This article is for the DC Comics character. For his Vertigo Comics counterpart, introduced in 1985 see John Constantine. For the movie version played by Keanu Reeves, see John Constantine (film character).
John Constantine is a magician and anti-hero in the DC Universe. He is blonde, British and a fierce chain-smoker - much like his Vertigo Comics counterpart.
Separation from Vertigo character
Although he was originally created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben for Swamp Thing issue 37 in June 1985. In 1993 that character was later taken out of the DC Universe and placed into the Vertigo Universe, which was reserved for mature readers comics. That character then continued to age in real-time. Another, younger version of Constantine was reintroduced to the DC Universe, alongside a version of his fellow Vertigo refugee Swamp Thing, in the comic series Brightest Day. This story was written by Geoff Johns.
In the New 52, John Constantine was the leader of the Justice League Dark, a group that will deal with the magical side of the DC Universe. Other members include Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Frankenstein, Black Orchid and once included Shade: The Changing Man. The title was first written by former Hellblazer scribe, Peter Milligan. It is now written by Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire, who also write the DC New 52 version of Constantine. The New 52 Constantine series ends at issue #23 and was relaunched as Constantine: The Hellblazer written by Ming Doyle and James Tylon IV in June 2015.
Superficially the characters are identical, although the DCU Constantine is younger than his counterpart - around 30, the same age as when he first appeared in the Swamp Thing comic. Like the original, he wears a tan trenchcoat over a shirt, tie, trousers and shoes - although his look is generally more composed, neater and less shabby than his Vertigo counterpart's, in line with his original appearances as a supporting character in Swamp Thing.
HistoryCertain aspects of the character's history are, it is implied, the same as his counterpart's, although the details are unclear at present. Muddying the waters is the fact that, in-continuity, the DCU has been destroyed and re-created four times since John was first introduced. These events were depicted in four massive cross-over stories: The Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, Zero Hour in 1994, Infinite Crisis in 2006 and Final Crisis in 2008. As a result any, all or none of the events depicted pre- or post-Vertigo may be revealed to be 'in continuity' for the modern-day DCU Constantine.
In The Search for Swamp Thing issue one it was revealed that John had approached Swamp Thing in much the same way as he first did in 1985, and that they shared a similar uneasy friendship. Additionally, John claimed that his body was used as a vessel for Swamp Thing's spirit to conceive Tefé Holland, Swampy's daughter - a story seen in the 1988 Vertigo comic Swamp Thing issue 76.
John Constantine's history is unknown; his first appearance in the modern DCU comes after Swamp Thing, reunited with the mind of Alec Holland, declares himself the protector of Earth. Swampy's first act in this role is to restore the planet's plant life, which had been destroyed by a force known as the Black Lantern. His second is to murder some corporate executives whose business practices are harming the environment. That night Constantine breaks into the crime scene to inspect the damage, noting that Swamp Thing has run amok. (Brightest Day issue 24)
After being attacked by Swamp Thing, who injects some kind of plantlike infection under John's skin, Constantine decides to call in the big guns to help him tackle the problem. He manages to get a reluctant Batman and Zatanna onboard, and explains to them that Swamp Thing has been divorced from the body and soul of Alec Holland, leaving it conscienceless. (The Search for Swamp Thing issue one)
In The New 52, Constantine appears as one of the lead characters in Justice League Dark. His history is slightly altered, such as meeting Zatanna in New York instead of San Francisco, and the origins of how he got his trademark trench coat. During the gap where he travels the world to learn magic, the New 52 added the history of him meeting Nick Necro, who was implied to be John's mentor and original owner of the trench coat. The Forever Evil: Blight storyline would establish that the three characters were all involved in a magical pact and a love triangle, which fell apart due to Zatanna ending her relationship with Nick to pursue John. Nick refers to John as having been his lover as well, stating "We were all in love, and you two shut me out!" The character also stars in the ongoing series Constantine, which replaces Hellblazer. He is still an unsavory trickster in the New 52 universe, as, while during the Trinity War between the three Justice Leagues, he tries to trick Shazam (14 year old Billy Batson) so that he can steal his magic. He fails, causing Billy to become even more distrustful of other people than he already was.
In Constantine #14, it was revealed that John Constantine, as a boy, was taught and cast his first magical spell—at the cost of the lives of his parents and his house burning down (it was implied that his mother, unlike in Hellblazer, survived the childbirth). It was also revealed that he spent his childhood in the '80s in Liverpool, England (it is not shown if he had any sibling, like Cheryl Constantine in Hellblazer). The one who taught John his first spell was Tannarak from the Cult of the Cold Flame (Constantine #15).
His primary enemies in Constantine are Mister E, Sargon the Sorceress (the original Sargon's daughter), and Tannarak: all are members of the Cult of the Cold Flame. Together with his allies Papa Midnite, the psychic mage Spellbinder, and a witch called Julia Everheart, Constantine attempts to destroy the Cult by conspiring a scam to take Sargon and Tannarak by surprise. However, prior to the planned battle, Constantine is thrown into the battlefield in Dar es Salaam in World War I because of a ritual going wrong, making his plan ultimately fail. An encounter with Doctor Occult there results in Constantine being transported to Earth-2 - a world dying under siege from Darkseid and his army of Parademons.
In Earth-2, he is assaulted by the Parademons, but Wotan comes and rescues him, before trapping him to open a gateway to escape the dying Earth. Constantine manages to convince Wotan to spare his life, then works with the ancient sorcerer to open a door through his body to Earth-0. As Wotan enters the doorway, he is split into two halves, because there are two John Constantines in this world: the original Constantine and the native one of Earth-2, who is surrounded by his friends and even gets married. After the death of Wotan, Constantine resolves to find his Earth-2 counterpart. He travels to Liverpool and witnesses all the horror and despair of the dying world. As soon as John reached the destination, he is shocked to find his "parents" (actually the Earth-2 John's parents), his friends Gary Lester, Chas Chandler and his former love interest Maureen still alive.
The Earth-2 John quickly attacks him by grabbing him in the neck, but they are engulfed in visions of their lives in parallel right after: a dangerous life marred with sorcery, adventures and regrets of Earth-0 John and a much quieter, much happier life of Earth-2 John. Constantine quickly earns the trust of the Earth-2 family, who consider him to be a wonder. Together, they escape to a warehouse where John instructs them to draw sigils to cast a complex spell. As John is lecturing about the unpredictability and the price of magic, Doctor Fate appears in front of his eyes, claims to have foreseen his arrival and offers to help him.
Doctor Fate reminds John of an incoming horde of Parademons and tells him to quickly cast the spell to escape from the dying world, himself hoping to flee with John and the family too. John discovers that the spell requires one Constantine dies: either himself or the Earth-2 John. As the Parademons storm in and take each family member down one by one, John is torn over between saving his own life and let the good, honest Earth-2 John live by sacrificing himself. Finally, he chooses to save his own skin: as he is kissing the other John, he holds his hand and drives the knife into his heart, ultimately kills the "other John". As the spells start working, John casts an additional spell to trick Doctor Fate, which masks his presence from the ancient sorcerer, then departs, brings along the family members and many other people.
By killing the "proper" Constantine, he earns the wrath and hatred of the Earth-2 family. Being called "Devil", John corrects the family when they reach Heaven while peeling through the layers of the dying world: Heaven itself, also under assault from Darkseid's force, has closed its door and started departing, deems this world beyond salvation. Later, John and his entourage are attacked by Doctor Fate, who manages to detect Constantine's whereabout. Despite succeeding in countering the assault, John loses his "mother" Mary-Anne, who is dragged back by Fate's chain. This greatly traumatizes Thomas Constantine, John's father, who even attempts to commit suicide, but is talked out of it by John.
After a long and hard trip, Constantine finally makes it back home, but Darkseid has sensed him and is in hot pursuit. As the menacing hand of the Apokolips God is reaching to him, Constantine enacts his "last trick": by sacrificing some souls of his entourage, John manages to get enough power to cast the "Ring of Dolus" spell, which uses every happy memories, every pleasant thought, every piece of hope in John Constantine to swirl a magical "web" made of lies. This powerful spell helps John projecting an illusion of an already dead universe to fool Darkseid, while John manages to bring himself, the family and the Earth-2 civilians to safety - he even pickpockets some survivors back from Darkseid's clutch.
As Constantine lands in the Jurassic Coast, England, he is confronted by Thomas, who points a gun at his head. Tired of everything, John yells at his father, begs him to kill him off for good. Unable to do it, Thomas drops his gun, but Maureen quickly puts it up and prepares to shoot John while questioning his actions. John contemplates and sees that he is no hero, but he is the only one willing to sacrifice "proper John" to save his family, or trade a hundred people for the safety of six billion. He magically teleports away, leaves the family and the survivors behind. Later, John goes back to New York and visits his old friend Lloyd at his bar to tell him about his latest adventures.
John Constantine's origin in the New 52 universe is seemingly retconned in the Secret Origins series. In the story, a group of kids in Liverpool manages to get their hands on an occult book and uses it to summon a magical creature called Legendbreaker to discover Constantine's true origin. Instead, the creature tells three conflicting stories: one featuring John's mother dead in childbirth, leaving him to his abusive father; another have John Constantine being born in a loving family with proud and doting parents; the last one is a John born in an unremarkable family, but his older sister is mad and (probably) possessed by a dark force. They all lead to the dead of his entire family and set the path for John Constantine into the world of magic, to the fateful incident in Newcastle, albeit the actions and consequences are different. The creature tries to claim the souls of the young "mystics", but the real John Constantine shows up and chases it away. He tells the kids to go back home, forget what has just happened, and his true origins will forever remain unknown - but it does not matter.
The 2016 DC Rebirth relaunched many ongoing series and incorporated stories from Pre-Flashpoint to the current DC Universe. The origin and other stories of the Vertigo Constantine were added back to the current DC Constantine in the new series The Hellblazer: Rebirth, such as the deaths of his mother (childbirth), twin brother (strangled during birth), and father (due to a serial killer). His history with Astra (now called Astrid) and his time meeting Mercury in the Fear Machine were also mentioned.
Powers and abilities
- Magic: Constantine is a magician but unlike most magicians, Constantine rarely uses magical spells, unless ]he really has to, especially in combat. One notable example was him creating a miniature sun to overpower a vampire. During his travels in his youth as well as his training with Nick Necro, John has mastered elemental magic such as pyrokinesis, electrokinesis, and chlorokinesis. John is also knowledgeable in curses and counter spells.
- Spirit Ward Creation: Uses sigils and magical circles to protect himself from both physical and supernatural attacks.
- Illusion Casting
- Mind Control
- Teleportation: John has the ability to teleport from near and far places with ease. 
- Telekinesis: John is able to use telekinesis to immobolise the vampire Andrew Bennett when the latter tried to attack him.
- Deception: John Constantine is an excellent con artist and negotiator. These skills are often more useful than his magical ones. Constantine faces most of his challenges relying primarily on his cunning skills. He is widely considered as the world's greatest con man.