John Constantine is the protagonist of the long running popular comic book series Hellblazer and first appeared in Swamp Thing issue 37 in June 1985. He is a con-artist, magician, occult detective, and anti-hero. He was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben.
John Constantine, Hellblazer, is a working-class magician, occult detective, and con man. He is well-known for his scathing wit, endless cynicism, ruthless cunning, and constant chain smoking. A roguish counterculture anti-hero, Constantine is also a strident humanist driven by a heartfelt desire to defend mankind from the forces of evil.
John was born in Liverpool, but has spent most of his life growing up in London, from the sixties onward. He first left his father's house to live in a London squat aged fifteen. He is a natural born thrill seeker with hints of morality. Despite living in England for most of his childhood, Constantine has moved around the world on several occasions, following occult and mysticism all across the planet. He was born a twin, which he happened to strangle in the womb. His mother died in labor and his father blamed John for the death of his mother and that was the root to the friction between them. When not running away from home John Constantine was raised by his older sister Cheryl Masters.
Constantine is a chain smoker and has been from the very start of his characters introduction, his brand of choice is Silk Cut, though he has been seen smoking Marlboro or Camel’s from time to time, presumably when out of the country or when Silk Cut are unavailable. Despite being a chain smoker himself, Constantine does not take any other drugs, and once called his friend a “Dirty lowlife bastard” when he found a needle with a nondescript drug in it. John eventually moved in with roommate Chas Chandler, the two became best friends. Around this time John began following occult circles around London, and eventually became the magic using, demon tricking con artist he is today.
Powers and Abilities
Unlike most comic book magicians, Constantine rarely uses magical spells unless he has to, especially in combat. Constantine faces most of his challenges relying primarily on his cunning, his vast knowledge of the occult, manipulation of opponents and allies, and an extensive list of contacts.
Constantine's skills in unarmed combat varies depending on the writer. Some portrays him as a poor physical fighter, while others as a capable hand-to-hand combatant. However, he has occasionally won fights, either by using magical weapons, by fighting dirty, or by quick-thinking.
Even with pressure, lack of time and preparation, Constantine can think of a strategy to defeat his enemies in a fight, letting him outwit both Heaven and Hell while striking fear into them. Although his IQ is never stated he is known to possess great intellect, he can plan a strategy on the go. Constantine has fough against many of the most powerful; gods and great intellectual minds alike. His achievements stand amongst gods. His magical prowess varies from writer to writer as well.
Some examples of Constantine's magic:
- Divination — Used a pendulum and map to find the location of a magical disturbance. (Hellblazer issues four and 182)
- Demon summoning — Summoned the demon Nergal to destroy a monster for him, which it did (although John lost control, due to his inexperience). (Hellblazer issue 11)
- Black magic cursing — Placed a curse on his father that caused him to waste away, (Hellblazer issue 31) , casting a curse on a host for vengeance (Reasons to be Cheerful), or putting a curse to a gang that put them into catatonic insanity (Hellblazer issue 146). Constantine's curses are strong enough to affect demons (The Red Right Hand).
- Exorcism — bounded, immobolized, and sealed the demon goddess Kali (Hellblazer issue 180 ), or destroying a demon using a spell (Hellblazer issue 250). During the Son of Man arc, Constantine summoned a demon. He made it physical thus rendereing it powerless and vulnerable, before Header shoots it with a shotgun.
- Spirit ward creation — Placed a magical sigil on Ellie's soul that prevented the forces of Heaven and Hell from tracking her. (Hellblazer issue 60). As well as using sigils to hide himself from Satan. (Hellblazer issue 85) He also placed various sigils on an abandoned caravan that he housed himself in to hide himself from the demon Nergal. (Hellblazer issue 12) Constantine can also write sigils in his bodies that protects him from magical attacks and possessions, and to prevent any demons from physically touching him. (Hellblazer issue 181 and 206)
- Magic circles — protection magic that John uses for defence against both supernatural and physical attacks (The Search for Swamp Thing ).
- Realm travel — being chased by Nergal, Constantine opens a path to Heaven. He leads Nergal to the borders of Heaven where the angels attacked Nergal and ripped him apart. (Hellblazer issue 12 )
- Golemancy — Raised a golem. (Hellblazer issue 167)
- Oclumancy — Erased a man's traumatic memories (Hellblazer issue 217), or mind-conrolled a whole penitentiary of inmates to madly riot and bring him a cigarette.(Hellblazer issue 149-150 )
- Necromancy — Raised a group of murder victims as ghosts to attack their murderer, (Hellblazer issue 230) or raising soulstorms to attack his enemies. (Hellblazer issue 42 and 181 )
- Illusion — Making people think he's someone or something else (Hellblazer: Pandemonium), or change another person's image (Hellblazer issue 149).
- Evocation — summoned a djinn to attack some military officers. (Hellblazer: Pandemonium)
- Ressurection — In the graphic novel Pandemonium, he once allowed himself to be killed, but later resurrects himself by exiting the afterlife.
- Pyrokinesis — creating fires or hellfires sometimes from his cigarette or lighter to attack his enemies. (Hellblazer issue 227 )
- Invicibility - used sigils to make himself invisible. (Hellblazer issue 258 )
- Synchronicity Wave Travelling - Constantine's signature magic. This allows him to make his own luck resembling a slightly reality warping. This is also one of the reasons how he survived for some time.
Constantine has also exhibited considerable mastery in "stage magic skills" - hypnosis, sleight of hand and escapology.