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Committed: Hellblazer – DC Shoot Themselves in the Foot (again)

Today I found out that Hellblazer is cancelled, and John Constantine is moving into the main, general DC universe (see the CBR piece for more about the mechanics on that.)

Unable to come up with any decent new ideas, DC has gone from fiddling with one 30 year old Alan Moore creation – Watchmen – to messing up another: Hellblazer. Of course DC has forced itself to continue this practice of pillaging it’s own powerful history of creations because it has hobbled the creation of new ideas. A champion against creators rights, and infamously instituting a policy of marketing-driven, decision-making-by-committee, the comic book publisher has become a bastion of tired ideas and restrictively tedious comic books. In this brave new world, there is obviously no space for a renegade division like Vertigo, and the gradual dismantling continues apace, as they hand the reigns of Constantine over to an American writer and place John Constantine (a characters who’s very raison d’etre is the juxtaposition of his own very British strangeness within the mundane “real” world) in the DC universe

Two weeks ago, when I wrote about my distaste for the liberties Justice League Dark #0 had taken with John Constantine and then saw that laughably bad storyline continued in Justice League Dark, I knew what it meant. it was obvious then that DC was gearing up for something stupid, and today they did it. Now that I have stopped buying Justice League Dark, my consumption of DC comic books has dropped to zero. Clearly they did a great job on their bloody relaunch, in that they completely pissed off most of their existing readers.

I understand that DC wants to make more money from Hellblazer, so here are some ideas, but primarily I want to say that if DC wants to make money out of Hellblazer, stop messing about with the comic book and spread out:

1. Make a GOOD movie
A Chris Nolan type of thing. Dark and adult. Use Warren Ellis’s storyline. Make it look like a Tim Bradstreet drawing. British writers are working on tons of DC titles, yet they won’t be letting a British writer write this established British character? Realistically, how is it possible that Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman have ALL been played by British actors, yet they cannot make a film with a British actor playing John Constantine?

2. Make a TV show
Think about licensing it as a TV show. If GrimmSupernatural, and Elementary can make money, why isn’t an old-school mage like John Constantine out there?

3. Package entire runs as digital bundles
Make it simpler for digital readers to catch up and collect. Try selling digital packages of storylines in bundles for new readers who want to catch up.

4. Number the trade paperbacks
I know, crazy idea, but people ALWAYS ask me about that. It would make it much easier for new readers.

5. Repackage the trade paperbacks for an older, broader audience
Give them covers which look more like a novel, more appealing to people who read horror. Look at popular novels in the horror genre and go for that market in regular book stores.

6. Repackage (and commission more) premium books for the book store audience
A nice little number – Dark Entries – was produced by Ian Rankin not so long ago, but a black and white graphic novel has a narrower audience, even if I do prefer it myself. Another beautiful one – Pandemonium – by Delano and Jock, suffered from targeting only a comic book reading audience. If money is to be made by a mature-readers horror book, it has to aim for a wider audience.

These aren’t revolutionary ideas. I’m sure other have thought of them, I’m just trying to be constructive and positive here. The main thing I’m trying to get across is that the way comic books make money is no longer purely through the direct market and not just on the current book itself. The monthly, ongoing comic book is really just the tip of the iceberg and should be treated as such. By trying to flog comic books and make money like they did in the past DC is screwing them up a lot. Move on, DC! The world has changed and your inability to deal with that is totally fucking up my comic books. Your marketing department is delusional, the money you can make from comic books directly is very limited. Be realistic, no print media market is growing right now, the entertainment market is disseminating. Deal with it and stop flogging a dead horse. You can take all of your marketing ideas and channel them away from the comic book and into various other areas of entertainment like licensing and publishing options, making money from the comic books indirectly, and letting the comic books be the rich, unfettered breeding ground for the ideas to grow in. Alan Moore was right, you’re still picking over things he made 30 years ago and it is embarrassing. Just stop it, please.

 

109 Comments

I admit it, the first thing I thought when I heard this was “Harris is gonna be pissed.”

So, everyone who thought you were overreacting last time is going to admit their mistake, right?

*&^%$&%$$!!! DC! Thanks a lot! Just what we all need, a PG-rated John Constantine!

And check the comments on the CBR article- just a bunch of fan-boy zombies: “Oh, I never read Hellblazer, but I’ll pick up the new series.” “Sorry to all the Hellblazer readers, but this sounds good.” “Really like JL Dark, can’t wait for this.”

Was it really necessary to cancel Hellblazer? I don’t get the rationale.

Ugh. So, it’s over for Vertigo?

Fables still exists, so I imagine Vertigo will keep going at least until Willingham gets tired of it.

I DEFINITELY thought your previous column was an overreaction. Foot in mouth.

I’ve always said the first thing I’d do if I ever came into a lot of money would be to buy all of Hellblazer on Comixology. At least now that’ll be a finite project.

I don’t quite understand why there can’t be two titles. Well, I do from a business standpoint. Market confusion, over-saturation, other buzz words…

But Hellblazer has an audience already, they’re there. Don’t assume that audience will migrate over to Constantine. My guess is that Constantine WILL have a bigger audience, but not as big as the combined audience for Hellblazer and Constantine put together.

you lost me with Chris Nolan

I had a bit of Twitter conversation with Comixology (for whatever that’s worth), and suggested bundles to make the whole run affordable. Even with a sale, $.99/issue will only get you so far in a 300-issue series, but if they offered the entire run for $100 I’d jump on it. For deep backlist stuff, it seems natural to do sub-$.99/issue bundles to get readers to buy more. So far haven’t seen much of this, though $.99 sales are still a nice occasional treat.

At the time of the last column, it still appeared that there would be two series.

Now that its confirmed that the old series is going away, your angst is justified.

Although I do stand a much better chance of picking up the new52 version than I ever would have the Vertigo version, for the record.

Man, f*** DC, they assured Hellblazer fans that his port over to the DCU was NOT going to affect the Vertigo title. And it didn’t until this dumbassed announcement. The DCU Constantine is not horrible, but it’s a neutered and very mainstream version of the character. Just what they need to sell a decidedly niche character en masse. I am starting to think that DC are looking at the guy as their own answer to Harry Potter or some other mass market magical selling point.

And the previous column about JLD was spot on, Nick Necro indeed. Hey DC, here’s a thought, drop the cheesy names that all but scream “I make magic everyone, THAT’S why I don’t have a mask or cape!

The movie was bad enough.

I have 52 middle fingers for DC.

“Clearly they did a great job on their bloody relaunch, in that they completely pissed off most of their existing readers.” … aaaand got way more new readers, apparently. Yeah, “great job.” That said, I think your ideas for cashing in on Hellblazer make sense. I don’t understand why it’s OK to continue publishing Hellblazer for 300 issues in lieu of developing any “decent new ideas” but suddenly this practice ISN’T OK when Hellblazer reboots. For that matter, why is it OK for Moore to write Watchmen, which was writtend around the Charlton characters that DC bought (>shocker!<) but DC otherwise shouldn't continue to publish and market characters it owns.

Intelletual flaws aside, I do feel for all you HB fans; the odds aren't in your favor. :(

This was pretty much the only book in the last 25 years that had been published continuously without reboot/renumbering anywhere along the way. *sigh* Ah, well.

Horrible news. What is going to be the last issue? (tell me that they’ll at least make it to 300).

And here Brian just posted elsewhere in recent weeks how Hellblazer was currently the longest running title on the stands that hasn’t been rebooted. (I’m still p.o.’ed they didn’t stick with Action ’til #1000).

I also don’t get why they don’t just run two series. What a drag. By far Vertigo’s best showcase of different great writers over the last couple of decades.

Keith Bowden beat me to the no-reboot point. What a drag.

@Sonia
Vertigo has been reprinting the Hellblazer trade paperbacks with new covers and actually numbering them this time.

But I have one idea that I think would be interesting for Hellblazer. DC have been releasing new original digital comics weekly. They’ve been doing continuations of Batman Beyond, Smallville. Why not do that with Hellblazer? Have the story continue has a weekly digital comics for 99 cents. Best case scenario, for it’s future. That, are relaunch Hellblazer with a new volume (not reboot it) and have Neil Gaiman write the first story arc.

FYI, they have been rereleasing the trades and have been numbering them. Even started including missing issues or issues that would the whole thing make more sense (i.e. the Swamp Thing issues in the first trade).

Tom Fitzpatrick

November 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I don’t think the DC/VERTIGO has finished reprinting Jamie Delano’s run, and as far as I know, they haven’t touched Paul Jenkin’s run, either.

It’s a sad, sad day for VERTIGO. Let us all bow our head in a moment of silence as DC’s best imprint dies out.

Gods, will you just get over it, already?

First off, while Moore may have created Constantine, he’ll be the first to admit that it was WORK-FOR-HIRE and the character belongs to DC.

Secondly, the whole “Constantine’s British–he should be written by a Brit” argument is really asinine considering the number of British writers who you acknowledge write for DC. What characters are those writers working on? Are they English/British? Not so much. Grant Morrison (a Scot/Brit) is writing Superman–a character created by a pair of Yanks and a character who was raised by Yanks. He’s also writing Batman–another character created by Yanks and who was raised as a Yank. Are you seriously suggesting that Morrison should be pulled off those books because Morrison’s is NOT an American? Or what about Jeff Lemire (a Canadian)? Should he be pulled off his various titles because the characters he’s writing are American characters? You might also want to recall that Brian Azzarello (a Yank) had a pretty good 2-year run on the title and that a couple of Constantine’s writers haven’t actually been REAL “English” writers: Ennis is from Northern Ireland, and Denise Mina is from Scotland. Should any of those writers been disqualified because they weren’t “English” enough?

Third, as for the film deals, let’s not forget that there’ve been more AMERICAN actors playing Superman and Batman than Brits. Taking Batman, we’ve got Adam West (born in Seattle), Michael Keaton (born in Pennsylvania), Val Kilmer (born in LA), and George Clooney (born in Kentucky). As for Superman, we’ve only had Christopher Reeve (born in NYC) and Brandon Routh (born in Iowa). (Bear in mind that while the actor for the next Superman film is English, the film has NOT been released yet so we don’t know how well it’s going to do. I am excluding George Reeves–also born in Iowa–since I was only discussing major film performers. West did a Batman movie–the one with Lee Meriwether as Catwoman.) Then again, those are two of the most well-known characters in ALL of the world. John Constantine is not and the very fact that a movie was even made was no mean feat. (Bear in mind that DC hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to non-Batman, non-Superman films–just look at Green Lantern which starred the very CANADIAN Ryan Reynolds.) But, I’ll also note that the Marvel films haven’t exactly cast “correctly” (I mean, really, Aussie Hugh Jackman playing a Canadian? Or UK-born Patrick Stewart or UK-born James McAvoy playing the very American Charles Xavier? Or Aussie Chris Hemsworth playing the Norse god Thor? Or lthe NYC-born Scarlett Johansson playing the Russian Black Widow?). So what’s up with that? Could it be a case of trying to attract audiences by using somewhat familar names for films and could you imagine the outrage if a Brit had been cast as Captain AMERICA? How many people knew who John Constantine was when the movie came out? The comic was selling what? Maybe 20,000 copies a month (if it was selling that well, I’d be surprised). The movie opened with a little under $30 million (even assuming a $10 ticket price average–a bit high for 2005 but still–that’s about 300,000 tickets sold the opening weekend, far more tickets sold than comics being read). I’m tired of fanboy (or, in this case, fangirl) purists. The entertainment industry does NOT exist based solely on the fanboys. Serenity is a pretty good case in point. The film, an extension of the fanboy-fave TV show Firefly, opened with $10 million–incidentally, in 2005, just 7 months after Constantine. Now, Serenity had a MAJOR NETWORK tv-show that ended just 2 years before, and averaged more than 4 million viewers per episode–far more viewers than read the monthly Hellblazer comic. And it was a box-office failure. As for Constantine, it’s been pretty well-documented that changes had been made to the material to better its chances of getting to the big screen in the first place. And that leads me to the next point…

Thirdly, you point to Grimm and Supernatural and Elementary as “successful.” BUT you fail to acknowledge that all three of those shows are NOT based entirely on previous source material. Grimm is a fairly original concept that plays off the old Grimm’s Fairy Tales but does NOT simply retell those old stories. (In fact, it actually pays a bit more homage to the movie “The Brothers Grimm” which was a bit of a box-office failure. Incidentally, you might want to recall that the stars of that film were an American and an Australian playing a pair of German brothers.) As for Supernatural, again, it was a bit of an original concept though originally seen as a twist on Buffy (a pair of brothers substituting for the skinny blonde girl as the monster hunter/killer role). And Elementary took a lot of heat for its decision to make Watson a female (and there was some fan outrage since they felt the Brits already had a far superior update of the Holmes/Watson story in Sherlock)–but then, again, it ventures FAR from the original source material. And yet you praise it while disparaging DC’s decision? Bear in mind that IF a John Constantine series were to make it to TV, there’s no guarantee that the star would be any more English than Lucy Liu’s Watson is.

Finally, your #6 seems to contradict itself. I can’t even really get where you’re going with it. First, you complain that “Dark Entries” would have a “narrower audience” then you state that “Pandemonium” suffered from “targeting only a comic-book audience.” Now, I’d like to know your HARD EVIDENCE for the latter statement. Who’s reading the Hellblazer series anyway? Just because a comic-book-based GN or TPB is in a mainstream book store doesn’t mean it’s selling better than the same book in comic specialty shops. Have you been in a mainstream book store? There’s a load of books in them. Unfortunately, the biggest problem about selling comic-book-based material is that these mainstream book stores segregate them from the “prose” books. “Punisher” TPBs could be placed in the same section that you’d find things like “The Executioner” or other “men’s action” books, but they’re usually relegated to the “comic book” section. The Hellblazer trades could be in the horror or mystery sections but they’re not (even mystery writer Denise Mina’s Hellblazer trades don’t wind up alongside her mystery novels).

I do agree with your critique about numbering the TPBs and GNs. But that’s a problem that is not unique to DC. Marvel’s guilty of it as well. (Just look at the X-Men trades available. They’re not really numbered so that a reader can go from one volume directly to the next chronological volume. Some volumes skip because the story wasn’t a “part” of the main storyline but tied in with some other work.) But with Hellblazer, so many of the trades don’t really link from one volume to the next. The comic has been pretty much storyline-based. You get 4 to 6 issues of one writer’s storyline then the next story starts up with minimal linking to the previous tale. I’ve been reading the title since it began and I’ve noticed a definite lack of “cliffhangerings” except within a single storyline. (Basically, when you read a Hellblazer comic, you read 4-6 issues the way you would a regular book except each issue is basically 1 chapter. When the final chapter is over, you know there’s another “book” coming out but if you don’t want to read the next “book,” you don’t really have to since that final chapter didn’t have some major set-up for the next book. Or think of it like a typical horror film. The monster’s been defeated and the hero or heroes go off and the camera goes back to the monster’s remains which suddenly begin twitching and *cut*. You know something might happen–even probably happen–but not in that movie; the movie’s over and done and, if you didn’t really enjoy the film, you don’t have to watch the next one. You saw the end of that story. It’s done.) Of course, you could also make the same complaint about some regular fiction. Are the Hercule Poirot novels numbered so that the reader knows which order to read them? (IMS, the various TV adaptations haven’t actually followed the publishing order and NONE of the films have.) And the Holmes stories and movies? I’m not sure of anyone who’s actually read the stories in the order they first appeared (since that was well over a century ago and they were serialized in newspapers before being published in book form. And some of the “serial” fiction that is numbered doesn’t actually require numbering since the sequence isn’t necessarily chronological in the series. (Just take a look at some of the romance publishers. None of the books are actually tied in to each other yet you look at the book and it’s #93 of the “series.” You find #92 and, not only is the book by another writer, but the characters are completely different and the setting is different. You find #91, same thing–different writer, different characters, different setting. And when #94 comes out, different writer, different characters, different setting. And when you do find a book by the same writer, it has different characters and a different setting.) Or look at Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. I love the series but they’re not numbered so that the “reading order” is obviously not important (until you get inside and find out that there’s a character who previously appeared in a book you haven’t read but plays an important part in this new book). And, of course, the Star Trek books. Once upon a time, the books were numbered, but typically didn’t flow from one to the next (they were more like typical TV episodes–something that had happened on the show might be referenced but it was rare that something from an earlier book was ever referenced unless the book was by the same author). Now, however, the books tend to operate as continuations of the TV series but are rarely numbered (unless the books fall within the same story arc–and even that’s not a guarantee). You pick up the book and start reading then you find out within a few pages that you need to read another book in order to follow along with the current storyline.

Dark Horse does have the occasional “mega bundle” sale where you can get a full of something like Sin City or BPRD for $100. So the model for it does exist.

And this will be remember as the day that officially Vertigo Comics died

Vertigo Comics RIP
March 1993 – February 2013

I’m glad I’m not the only one really upset with DC after that JLD crap they pulled making Constantine a G-Rated poseur of his Vertigo title. Now theyre cancelling my favorite comic…..this seriously makes me want to stop reading DC all together (but I wont, because I actually really enjoy Swamp Thing and Animal Man right now)
It’s pretty disheartening that they have to do this.

Wow. What a bitter tone to this “article”. Let me guess – the people crying the most probably don’t read Hellblazer. If they do, they probably read it in trade (killing the series slowly). And if they DO read the monthly issues, I doubt they pre-order the book.

If the article writer can make such blatant generalizations in her opening paragraph, so can I.

Reading in trades isn’t “killing the series slowly.” Sandman trades have kept the lights on for Vertigo and, to a lesser extent, DC for a number of years. Anyone who tells you that they’re cancelling a book because readers wouldn’t buy the individual floppy issues is telling you their company is mismanaged.

And Marvel has also packaged whole arcs in digital form. I own the Ennis TPBs for Hellblazer, and some of the others, but I’d be very happy to pick up the entire run in digital format if they were made available and, especially, at a better price point.

Honestly I’m not too worried about Constantine in the new 52, stuff like animal man and swamp thing shows that they don’t need to neuter the character and with his own title we can get more of that classic Constantine trickery that JLD has kinda been missing, yeah Hellblazer was in it’s own little corner but does it got started in the DCU and hey at least we got 300 issues

This is a horrible article. Focus your anger somewhere productive. This is comics. Enjoy your post-DC reading days. Since you’ll have no DC frame of reference for future articles I look forward to not stumbling across your musings again.

The final nail in the Vertigo coffin.

I don’t understand DCs thinking:

“People like Constantine so let’s give him his own book. But since he already has a book we’ll cancel that one. And the new one will have a character who isn’t really Constantine in it.”

Companies always talk about “jumping on points.” I’m excited for this jumping off point.

I’m fine with this. Stories need to end, and I take Hellblazer’s cancellation as an ending for Constantine. He’s old and he’s had a good long run. I don’t read JLD or Animal Man or Swamp Thing, and if Constantine ever shows up in Dial H, at least he’ll be written by a writer who’s actually good, who will hopefully pretend that none of that nonsense over there is happening.

I’m actually firmly against numbering the trades.

There’s a reason why best-selling novelists don’t number their long-running character series. It’s an obstacle and deterrence to start reading with any book.

Hellblazer is like James Bond. Pick up (most) any story and it stands alone. I first bought Hellblazer with Azzarello’s run, 150 issues in. Hadn’t read anything before it, and it was no problem.

And if I was casually interested in the series, seeing Hellblazer: Vol. 18 on the shelf might deter me. That’s a lot to commit to.

I agree with Rick. I’m glad Hellblazer wasn’t numbered. That way you could start anywhere, skip a run if you didn’t like a writer.

I also agree that this is a rather horribly written, unclear, often conflicting rant. You’re offering DC advice on what to do with the character after they’ve made a decision.

Constantine has a voice and a personality unlike the archetypes and symbolic entities that make up the mass of the DCU, and that voice is decidedly British. Even when he’s portrayed or written by an American or an individual of any other nationality, he should be portrayed as a Brit and it should be done well, and that’s not easy. Don’t make the character into an American – the personality and cultural quirks just don’t match.
I’m 100% with Sonia on this – it’s a stupid maneuver and there were plenty of better choices that could have been made. As another commenter said, it’s a great place to consider the series ‘ended’ and it’s a great jumping-off point.

That’s it DC! I’m done with you. I’ve been a loyal DC reader since I began reading comics in the 80′s with Hellblazer #1 and all the other great titles. In the past few years you’ve driven me away with one bad book after another. Killing HB is the last straw. You’re now as bad as Marvel. I’ll get mine from Dark Horse and other great publishers from now on! Damn you DC!!

Remember when John Constantine and Tim Hunter were the only two comic characters that were allowed to age in real time? Didio is really hoping you don’t.

Elementary is making money? Dammit I thought ignoring it would make it go away! Come back Cumberbatch!

Everything in this article sits pretty alright with me. Some of these comments on the other hand… ugh.

@Keith: All hail Spawn, the new champion continuously-numbered book.

(What’s next after that, anyhow? Surely not Fables, but I can’t thinkg of any other candidates…)

(Wait a minute…I bet some of the Archie line has all three books beat. Is there a good reason to exclude them?)

Tim Hunter didn’t age in real time. I think he aged one year in the span of about 50 issues of his first ongoing series (there was a birthday issue in there somewhere) and then he was fast forwarded about 3 years ahead in age between the limited series “names of magic” and his second ongoing series “hunter: the age of magic” which followed almost immediately afterwards. He was aged at the whim of editorial and/or writer to set him up for the stories they wanted to tell. There was nothing real time about it.

Great article !
I won’t be buying the new series because I have enjoyed watching Constantine grow older (and not at all wiser) over the last 20-odd years and have no interest in seeing a rebooted, younger version.

The fact DC is doing this does not surprise me, but it does make me a little sad.
Oh well, that’s another title off my list, so an extra $ 5 to buy another title with. “Augusta Wind” by DeMatteis looks great, the artist looks a lot like Sam Kieth’s Maxx years, so I will buy that instead !

I have bought/read every Hellblazer from the beginning and am sorry to see it go. But I can’t blame DC for this. Sales for Hellblazer are now down to 9,500. I blame the people who didn’t buy it

I think the kind of mentality behind this article is the reason why the big 2 are reluctant to try new things. Too many people are like you. You’re talking about how they hinder creativity, all the while complaining about how they’re messing up a good thing by changing Hellblazer.

I think this decision might be DC’s way of trying to make Constantine approachable by younger audiences. Good for them. I like comics that I can enjoy, and don’t have to run screaming “PUT THAT DOWN, YOU’RE TOO YOUNG’ whenever my son might want to try reading one.

Vertigo’s been slowly dying, and this is kind of it. I guess DC can keep trying to pretend like Vertigo is going to become the next Fantagraphics or D&Q or whatever, but I think they’ll just kill it off after Fables is done. It’d be merciful, at least.

I’ve been reading Animal Man, and that’s it from DC. I’m not trying to dis Jeff Lemire or anything, but the main reason I’m reading it is because it’s been riffing really heavily on Jamie Delano’s Animal Man run, which was my favorite.

Oh well.

@Joseph W: Whoaa! that’s a lotta words dude and yoyr point was exactly what?

It wasn’t exact from year to year – not that it was with John either – but Tim aged roughly 14 years between 1990’s Books of Magic and 2004’s Books of Magick: Life During Wartime.

@hugueknot: I think if you look at the long term numbers after DC launches a title that all those new readers disappear with a few possible exceptions such as Bat family titles.That IMO had more to do with the interest by the worldwide audience for the Nolan trilogy than anything to do with Nu52.Selling 300,000 or so of the first JL is due to a lot of factors and is meaningless unless it sustains itself for the long haul.The real problem here is that DC readers both long term fans and new readers are only buying core iconic titles and everything else dies on the vine.That plus formulaic editorial mandated plotting, tie ins and crossovers simply kills any desire I have at this point to even waste time and money catching up through trades.Things are just as bad in Marvel land.

you lost me with Chris Nolan

Even though I think Chris Nolan makes terrible Batman movies, I think he might have a chance of doing a decent Hellblazer one.

Alton, one year later DC is still doing WAY better than they were in the charts (and I think you’re oversimplifying). I don’t see how DC is screwing up any more than they were, which seems to be central to Sonia’s point, which I THINK is “Wow, DC you’ve REALLY screwed up NOW [implying a year's worth of failure rather than success] by restarting the low-selling title I love, but since there are no FACTS to support that, I’m going to play the Alan Moore card, which also really doesn’t make any sense [particularly in this case since she was perfectly happy to let DC cash in on AM's work when it was under the Vertigo imprint].” I’m not saying she (or anyone else) has no reason to be disappointed, but I don’t think her argument makes any sense, which is fine; it’s not REALLY a logical response, it’s an emotional response called “Loss” and it has little to do with the business of running comics. The tie-ins are done to help sales, which, in turn, is intended to boost non-iconic tites (see: I, Vampire and JL Dark).

I’ve been interested in checking out Hellblazer for a while, but didn’t want to commit to such a long series and didn’t want to feel lost catching up. If what Rick and Dave says is true, I might need to pick a trade or two and give it a look.

And although I’m not a fan of digital comics, if this whole run was available as a mega-discount bundle or whatever, I’d pretty seriously consider getting it.

U dont like DC moves and decisions, GTFO. Me I was hesistant to pickup a 200+ now 300 Hellblazer series. Now im going for Constantine hook line and sinker. I was born in late 80s and just got into comics, u old generation are dyin off time for my peoples to have what u had. My Ennis, Ellis, and Moore are Synder, Lemire and Remender

I like the Idea of a TV show if its on FX since they are able to go for a more niche audience then one of the big 4 (CBS,NBC,ABC FOX)but they already have Powers in devlopment cycle.

I agree with a lot of this until the bitching about the new 52 starts. As someone who never bought DC, after the New 52 I pick up about 7 titles a month. I may not like what they’re doing with Vertigo but the mainstream line is freaking golden.

I’m not sure why people couldn’t jump in to Hellblazer because it had a high issue number. I’m sure most fans started reading their favorite iconic characters when they were in the 100′s.

Holy hell, I forgot about ComicCritics. Thanks for bring that up Greg.

There’s a lot of crazy and angry around here. I want in!
Hunter R! I was born in late 80s too! And my Ennis, Ellis and Moore are Ennis, Ellis and Moore!

I dont understand, no one talked about this book, very few were buying it. The New 52 JLdark selly about 5 times as many copies. WHY WOULD THEY NOT OPEN IT UP to a wider audience? because the numbers were higher on the other one? out of sentiment?

Not only is this a business, but people love the character. they want as many people as possible to experience him.

Please someone tell me what was happening in the current Hellblazer run that makes you so sad to see it go away. And while you’re at it, please let me know why so many people lost their minds when they thought Jeff lemire was leaving JL dark, especially given how much everyone hates the title all of a sudden.

I think people will just hate DC for whatever they do, save for build a time machine to drag everyone back to their childhoods.

You did not answer why DC is shooting itself in the foot. You just went on a vitriol filled rant about how DC is alienating you once again and that’s it. DC owns Constantine. The company has the right to use him however they see fit. If that means alienating the current readership in favor of attracting a potentially bigger readership, so be it.

Simple economics are in mind here. In September, Hellblazer sold barely 9000 copies. Justice League Dark sold 34,000 copies that same month. As a point of reference, the worse selling New 52 title that month sold 12,000 units. It would be a bad business decision to continue a series that only diehard fans are reading and pre-ordering. Now, if they get more potential readers for making a Constantine series, it would be stupid for them not to try.

Also, get over this obsession with Alan Moore. I get that you are a fan, but “tampering with an Alan Moore creation” is not a good enough reason to extort all this vitriol and bile towards DC.

.We should make a checklist of all the times DC has atavistically incorporated Alan Moore’s smaller stories and concepts into their big events. Bringing Constantine into the DCU is a prime example, as was having Nekron return in Swamp Thing’s memories during Brightest Day. Sinestro Corps War is another example, extending that one back-up strip from Moore and Kevin O’Neill into the blueprint for many story arcs. The current Batgirl storyline jettisons Barbara’s past history except for getting shot during the Killing Joke (with flashbacks even showing Joker wearing his Hawaiian tourist getup).

Any others?

HELLBLAZER CANCELLED?! That was the only book I loved until you hired Peter Milligan to write post 250.

DC Comics, you are friggin’ dead to me!

@ hugueknot:Again my point is not that DC hasn’t tried but if you honestly look at some of the numbers title by title it is only by constantly cancelling slow movers and introducing new rebooted #1′s that they are mantaining any visibility. How long can that go on and the real problem lies with the fans who again ,I say, are the problem.Iconics rule and nothing else flies for very long.Granted there have been some stinkers that deserved to be cancelled,but for a number of titles the only people keeping them alive are those with some long term investment with the characters.In terms of making any headway creatively regurgitating the creative work of people from 30 or more years ago and squandering todays creative best on exploitative nonsense only works for awhile but if fans support nothing else then they only have themselves to blame.I suppose Ian among others is chomping at the bit to see Constantine dumbed down to the Young Justice level.That would certainly bring new fans in I guess.

Looking at the sales charts, it does seem to me like most people are just gravitating towards the event or big name titles. Not surprised at all that they cancelled the book. I’m actually surprised that it was still in print. Do most people purchase the book in trade? I liked the series, but haven’t bought a new single issue since the 90s. You know…when I had an allowance.

All right, some of you REALLY need to get something straight: It’s okay for people to dislike what you like. It’s okay for them to write an article bemoaning creative/business-related moves that you, personally, don’t care about. You don’t have to agree with it, of course, and are free to post a rebuttal (if you MUST) but the hostility it brings out in you is just. . .shocking. “Fans” like you are a toxic asset to DC. You’re rude, you’re dismissive, and boy oh BOY are you condescending.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still read the New 52 (as it turns out, even a pointless reboot wasn’t enough to kick me off my nearly 20 year habit), and some of it is actually excellent, but I don’t get all uppity because other people think it’s garbage. Why should I? I didn’t write it. And I CERTAINLY don’t get angry when someone DARES to question how things are being run. What does that have to do with me? Do I own stock? Do you?

Really, I’m half-legitimately asking these things, because the fanboyism surrounding DC these days has gotten INSANE. I just don’t understand it. Should everyone agree with you? Will you stop acting like lunatics THEN? Will that be enough to appease you? Or, instead, will you simply accept that EVERYTHING gets bad reviews and just keep on liking what you like and stop screaming at people for simply doing the same?

The choice is yours, you loons.

P.S. The issue here, in case you missed it, is that DC lied to Hellblazer fans and callously screwed them over. If that doesn’t bother you, fine, but saying “it’s a business!” doesn’t make it not awful to those it actually affects. It just makes YOU look like an irrational, unempathetic apologist.

The only way this could’ve been prevented is if Warner Brothers, as an entertainment conglomerate, was broken back up into the original independently-owned-and-operated entities: Warner Brothers as a FILM AND TELEVISION STUDIO, DC Comics as a COMIC BOOK COMPANY (with a movie-making division like Marvel’s), Cartoon Network as an independent network television studio, and Hanna-Barbera as an independent animation studio.

The fact of the matter is, these days entertainment companies such as Disney, WB, and the like are becoming more and more like Ghengis Khan and Napoleon Bonaparte–they won’t stop until WE lobotomize them. Who’s with me???

I haven’t enjoyed Milligan’s run on Hellblazer much but I have most of the old issues and this news means I’ll have to wait a very, very long time before another good Constantine story’s told again. He’s a tough character to write well and his regular DC appearances tend to suck a bit. Kinda like the Punisher I think in that he works best in his own little pocket with maybe occasional cameos. Is DC just folding Vertigo? Creators seem to do better with publishers like Image. All new Vertigo books seem to undersell and all they’ll have left is Fables & co., American Vampire & co., and Unwritten I think.

“Clearly they did a great job on their bloody relaunch, in that they completely pissed off most of their existing readers.”

Pissed them off so much that they are outselling Marvel and selling above their pre-New 52 numbers. Yeah, what a bunch of morons with their high sales and success, obviously scared everyone off!

I forgot to mention–not only should DC, like other big corporations, be lobotomized, they should also be bound to a variation of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWJJnQybZlk

Sonja, there’s another outlet for our boy Conjob: Big Finish Productions. They’d treat him better than that balding mustached hack and his minions.

As far as folding Vertigo, they announced “The Wake” from Scott Snyder (who also has “American Vampire” at Vertigo) and Jeff Lemire is doing “Trillium.” So they’re certainly keeping the doors open there.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

November 9, 2012 at 12:16 am

*sigh* For once, I notice an article (or rant or whatever) on CBR that is actually about a book/character that I like, so I read it…and what do I find at the comments section? The same absurd ranting I find at the end of every CBR column: “British characters and creators are all evil, no one gives a shit, we want more Batgirl and Robin, stop enjoying good comics, wah wah wah”. Of course, normally that sort of fare is delivered in the form of a non sequitur, ad hominem attack on Warren Ellis or Grant Morrison, so at leat it’s on topic this time…

Still, what exactly is it that provokes this ridiculous level of hostility? Is it simply (borderline) racism againt the British? Or do nerds simply hate anything and everything that’s outside their comfort zone (that is, comics about teenagers wearing skintight costumes)?

You contribute to CBR. ARe you real? You do know Milligan is handling him in Hellblazer in Vertigo and in the DCU with JLDARK, right – so..exactly who are you mad at?

Hellblazer got me back into reading comics 5 years ago when I got a hold of a few trades, and Milligan’s run has been absolutely historic. I was even in a letter column about a year and a half ago, I guess that makes me as relevant as you?

I’ve always said, if Constantine was in the DCU, he would get a bigger audience, and one that he deserves.

Who cares what’s the label on the comic – it’s the GUTS inside. I doubt DC is going to make him a brown haired German boy scout. Go have a pint

This article brings up a lot of great points but I can see things from both sides…

If the book was only selling around 9,500 copies that would equal about $28,500 in total sales a month (without any store discounts if the book was $3.) Anyways, I don’t see how they can divide all that up and be able to pay all the creators involved, printing and distribution costs as well as making it worth it to the stores to even carry it. Usually, in the credits there are like 8 people listed. Most pencillers can only draw one book a month (some, even less.) I wonder what the penciller was getting paid from this and how could he possibly survive off of it?

How was it doing in trades? My assumption was that the book was selling well enough (and regularly enough) to sustain it, and this feels more like a creative decision (ie, keeping Vertigo/DC totally separate as a matter of “brand identity”) rather than a sales thing. Hellblazer can’t be selling much more or less than it was 5 years ago, and there was no reason to cancel it then (or every year after.) I was really happy with the way DC was handling the character prior to this (the two versions) and this really bums me out. I just hope the “real” John gets a good send-off in #300.

It also just hit me that, barring Gaiman’s Sandman prequel, this is really the end of the Vertigo “universe”. Starting with Moore’s Swamp Thing run, the continuity dates back even further than Vertigo itself. Damn. Well, I guess it was a great run. It actually lasted longer than the post-Crisis/pre-new 52 DCU did.

Sigh. It was dumb when they refused to allow the Vertigo characters into the DCU and it’s dumb when they are are forcing them out of Vertigo. Marvel lets MAX operate alongside the normal series and it works great. I’d love a second Constantine book, but I want my classic Constantine, too.

was anyone even BUYING hellblazer?
I mean was there ever a passable story in those 300 issues?

Even Ennis didnt know what to do with Constantine besides giving him cancer and cheating the devil. (yawn)

I like how you’re a Constantine/Hellblazer fan and write blogs of it but you don’t know that they already started doing your number four suggestion almost two years ago…

An Eulogy
This saddens me more that I can possibly say. It is almost without a doubt the death knell of Vertigo as a viable imprint. I shouldn’t be shocked, Hellblazer has always been near the bottom of the top 300 comics but those sales were SOLID never dropping year, after year, after year. Trade paperback sales were also very solid and most of the run has been kept in print for it’s entire almost 25 year history. But more than that Hellblazer was the Heart and Soul of Vertigo. Sure there were more critically acclaimed series, better sellers, more commercial works but Hellblazer, introduced as one of the original ‘Vertigo’ titles, just kept plugging along. It was reliable, it was relatable and a comforting presence. Hellblazer was published for 300! issues and with Marvel & DC’s recent rebooting of 90-100% of their line it is also the longest running American comicbook title today. Think about it, in an era were a series is lucky to last a year and considered amazingly successful to last 50-100 issues Hellblazer put out 300.

Now DC is throwing that away for “Constantine Lite” gone will be the grizzled old 59yr old who aged in real time and was committed to an insane asylum after his first real touch with magic. The man who knew everyone but to know him was to court death. Most importantly gone is his thorough grounding in Britain and more specifically London. For all his travels John never lost that working man Liverpudlian outlook that he was born into. Instead we’ll have this token ‘Brit’ who spent most of his time in America and was nothing more than a young punk (and NOT a punk rocker) until he was taught by a ‘Legend’. John was a self-made man in more ways than one and didn’t need someone to ‘teach’ him. Also I will miss Chas, John’s oldest and most reliable friend who managed to stand next to the flame for decades and yet not get burned. The saying goes “friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.” Chas was more than a real friend because he would help you dig up that body, resurrect it, and THEN put it back down. That is what being a mate is all about.

This is not good-bye John but rather “Until next time” because a man who has defeated, hell, heaven, deamons, devils, gods and death itself multiple times is not going to be beat by something as lowly as a comic book publisher.

I lift a pint in your name, Cheers Mate!

While i’m not against a renumber, retitle or change of writers as I can see how this title has been neglected with little fanfare or promotion.

What I don’t like is that now he’s in the mainstream. He previously had very minor encounters with anyone in the dc universe. but now, is he now going to be bumping into superman and batman every other month just to boost sales at the cost of real stories.

I liked Hellblazer because it wasn’t involved with crossovers or having to buy the next issue of a different comic to get the next part of the story, it was continuous and self contained. One comic you could stay up to date on just by reading that one comic. Now being in the DCU I don’t see that any more.

I had recently cut down my monthly pull list a lot, this made the cut. Maybe not for long.

Forget mourning one comic – the real tragedy here is the slow death of Vertigo, which seems to be quickly gathering pace. With Image and Dark Horse having the success they’ve had in recent years and (I’m told) offering better deals for creators its almost as though there’s no real incentive to go there anyway. There’s still some good Vertigo comics (‘Punk Rock Jesus’ anyone?) but by golly they’re getting fewer and further between.

If you count ‘”angering a small but passionate group of fans” then yes, they have shot themselves in the foot again. DC have shown that they care nothing for the emotional investment of small numbers of people before and they’ll show it again – what really counts for them is the sales numbers and the numbers say The New 52 was a success. As does the online buzz around DC’s comics which (to be frank) barely existed before the reboot.

I think it’s a shame that ‘Hellblazer’ gets cancelled at such short notice – epic character driven stories deserve a properly planned conclusion – but the big publishers really don’t care for the long term legacy of their proprietary stories so it’s hardly surprising. To be honest I thought ‘Hellblazer’ would have a lot more monthly readers than a mere 9,143 but this doesn’t account for trade sales.

@ Hunter R: “My Ennis, Ellis, and Moore are Synder, Lemire and Remender”

That sucks for you. Snyder and Remender are no match for the craft and innovation displayed by Moore or Ellis. I was born in the mid 80s and my Ennis, Ellis, and Moore are still Ennis, Ellis, and Moore. It’s not that I don’t think today’s younger creators and newer comics match up (there’s plenty that do), it’s just that the three you listed there don’t come close. There’s a golden age of creativity and quality in comics happening *right now* but it isn’t happening inside DC. You’d do better if you took a look at Image, Dark Horse and IDW.

Ive read a lot of stuff, but Those ppl i mentioned have been getting bigger attention and spotlight as I got into comics. What im saying is that i predict 30 yrs from now those 3 names will be meaningful authors to me and when Dc and Marvel are destroying their stuff Im gonna be as mad as u are now. Right now its just whining cause I just want more Constantine. I hate whining cept when i do it lol.

I was one of the people who thought you overreacted before.

Just like there is nothing wrong with the Before Watchmen stuff (in fact, some of them are really bloody good), because it changes NOTHING about Watchmen. If you don’t want to read the BW stuff then don’t. It is not an affront to you or Watchmen in ANY way.

So, when Constantine was brought back to DCU, it changed NOTHING. It had no bearing on Hellblazer, which was still being…

Uh, what?

Cancelled?

WTF?

That is just stupid unless the sales were a lot lower than what I thought they were.

If the sales were bad, then there is nothing to complain about. If instead it was cancelled so there was no ‘conflict’ with the DCU version, well that is fucking stupid.

I agree with the pissing off existing readers. My DC haul includes Batman, Action Comics and American Vampire. I didn’t like Justice League Dark, stopped reading after issue one, but then again the same can be said for Hellblazer. I lost interest in the title, the stories just seemed dull, they didn’t have that edge the title used to have.

That said, Constantine used to exist in the DCU, returning him to it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, like everything else DC has been doing recently, it’s been handled poorly and done with what feels like a half arsed degree of effort. A new Constantine book set in The DCU could be great, if it’s done properly and handled by a great writer, then we could get a triumphant return for everybody’s favourite Liverpudlian. But i doubt it.

But @ED A The death of Vertigo? How exactly? There a COUNTLESS titles under the Vertigo banner currently, not to mention the impending return of Sandman.

This is a real shame. I’ve been such a long-time reader of Hellblazer. But, I will pick up the 1st issue of the new title. It’s a character that I’ve grown up with. I might also pick up Justice League Dark to see what it’s about too.

They already have started numbering an re-packaging the trade paperbacks, they have done the first 3 volumes so far with the fourth out this month.

I agree on the TV show though, seems like a no brainer.

How you feel qualified to judge DC when you admit that you’ve only been reading one of their titles and now you’ve dropped that one, I don’t know. Your suggestions for fixing the problem involve film and TV when DC is a COMIC BOOK COMPANY! Warner Brothers makes the related films. You suggest repackaging and numbering the collections, something that Vertigo began quite a while ago now. You say that the relaunch has driven away the fans when DC sales are up 12% across the board since the relaunch. And people her speak of a PG John Constantine when all the DC books are rated individually for content, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK usually being rated for teens or older teens. And you speak of Vertigo losing their edge? I guess you aren’t reading the incredible PUNK ROCK JESUS series. Just imagine Marvel publishing something so controversial! Please, I appreciate opinion but do some research.

*SIGH*

This doesn’t affect me in the slightest, as I’ll never buy another DC Comic ever again and I don’t care that I’m “missing good comics”. I’m not. I’m missing DC Comics. Which are not good.

I know “good comics” when I see them. Some of you, I have tee shirts older than you. The tee shirt I’m WEARING is probably older than you. I have literally forgotten more about comics than you will ever know.

Pre-52, the only DC book I bought was Jonah Hex. I’m still angry about it. I have every right to be. I picked up the first few ALL-Star Westerns and HATED THEM so never went back.

No amount of jiggery-pokery with costumes and origins and meaningless status quo could lure me back to DC. Sorry, the prison train has sailed.

I haven’t read Hellblazer in years. I”M the reason it’s cancelled – I lost interest. It happens. You’ll see, kid, it’ll happen to you, too.

But the thing about John – he could LOSE. And did. Often. Or at least “not win”. That’s GONE now. Gone, gone away forever. Once he’s firmly planted (heh) in the main DC Universe, he’ll never lose. EVER. And then the power-creep sets in. “What can he DO, what can he NOT DO?” And then he becomes Dr. Strange, who NO ONE knows what to do with. So, yeah, by taking him away from his roots (heh), they’ve ruined the character to make some short-term cash off of people who literally don’t know any better.

I know they’re a business (and BELIEVE YOU ME, the Publishing buisness is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, populated mainly by liars, lunatics, alcoholics, sociopaths and the deeply mentally unstable) so in light of this (these) fact(s), it’s not surprising we get CONSTANTINE! FROM THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU ELECTRIC BLUE SUPERMAN! NOW HE’S EDGY!

Sonia, it was a well-written article and I feel for ya. Maybe someday, you, me, John and Jonah Hex’ll meet up for a pint. (Mr. Hex will have a whisky. Leave the bottle.)

Well, damn. I have been enjoying a married Constitine. Won’t be picking up the relaunch in the New Fifty-Ew.

[...] of Hellblazer so we are cancelling it. This logic is perfectly sound!” (At our sibling blog Comics Should Be Good, Sonia Harris offers her own thoughts on the announcement, and ideas for making Constantine for [...]

[...] has been cancelled in order to make way for a new Constantine book set in the New 52. Fans are livid. When John Constantine was originally reintroduced back into the DC Universe at the end of [...]

I’m only a paragraph into this article and already I’m annoyed by it.

It’s not the fault of DC that they choose to “pillaging [their] own powerful history of creations”, it’s the fault of the READERS. As evidenced by the sales numbers for acclaimed ‘new 52′ titles like OMAC and FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E., the vast majority or readers don’t go for the new stuff. They want what they’re familiar with.

So, if you can manage to “fiddle around” with WATCHMEN (my 2nd favorite Alan Moore penned story after V FOR VENDETTA) and give us the quality BEFORE WATCHMEN books (naysayers be damned. They’re great books) and if the character of John Constantine has a life ahead of him, so be it.

As a long-time reader of HELLBLAZER, I couldn’t possibly care less if they ‘reboot’ the series so long as the quality is there. HELLBLAZER was a DCU book before VERTIGO existed. So were ANIMAL MAN and SWAMP THING. If the recent quality showed on those two titles is any indication, I think John will be just fine.

it is amazing how many people responded to the cancellation …as opposed to actually readfing and buying the book on a regular basis…..

a regular DCU title and a semi regular graphic novel line into bad business sense and the readers aren’t getting any less of content..

and remind me how many of Jamie Delano last Hellblazer GN sold? thast isn’t Dc’s fault this is the apathetic readership and the writer of this article is a spoiled girl child

WAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!

[...] of Hellblazer so we are cancelling it. This logic is perfectly sound!” (At our sibling blog Comics Should Be Good, Sonia Harris offers her own thoughts on the announcement, and ideas for making Constantine for [...]

@theplaintruth Shh….get that logic out of here!

@ Andrew: Great eulogy, sir!

I’m sorry to see Hellblazer go. With the interest in urban fantasy having risen in the past decade, DC could have marketed the comic properly and found a few more readers. As someone who had to do a little research to figure out which Milligan trade to start with, DC could have done a better job organizing the material. I’m glad they’re finally numbering the trades.

I don’t think Hellblazer’s demise is the death of Vertigo, necessarily. I remember when Sandman was ending and there was a lot of questions about what would become of the imprint. Then Preacher was a hit, Transmet trades sold well, 100 Bullets picked up a following, and Y & Fables became solid sellers. Vertigo has been almost cancelled since its founding. All it takes are a couple moderate hits.

I was sitting on the crapper wishing/praying that DC would cancel a couple of titles so I wouldn’t have to decide which to drop. I was thinking about some of the Bat-Crack, but when I finished and went to the other room pulled up Bleeding Cool on my iPad there it was in Black and White, my wish fulfilled. Constantine wasn’t on my list to get rid of, but just be careful of what you wish for guys.

I see someone mentioned the renumbering/repackaging of the trades, which I will continue to pick up.

Dark Entries was enjoyable but lost in the “Vertigo Crime” line.

The Constantine movie’s only redeeming quality was it’s special effects, which didn’t make up for it’s failings.

I will miss the unique voice that was John Constatine: Hellblazer, but I miss Agent Graves, Morphius, and Vertigo Tim Hunter as well.

DC can surrender Horror and Fantasy to the independents, it’s obvious Marvel already has. Hmmmm what’s that over at Image or Dark Horse.

Sad to see it go.

On the plus side,now that John’s got his own title in the DCU, can we finally see the John Constantine/Detective Chimp team-up the market is clearly clamouring for.

I envisage a road movie type plot, starting in John’s native Liverpool and ending up with a climatic battle in that infamous hive of monkey hangers, Hartlepool. Kind of Every Which Way But Loose with consequence free ultra-violence.

Speaking as someone who has been buying Hellblazer since day one, ( I have been a fan of Conjob since he first appeared in Swamp Thing #37 ) I think this is a terrible idea. I won’t be buying the new book. After they did the New 52 I didn’t see a title that appealed to me and thought at least I still have Hellblazer to read and enjoy. DC has NOTHING for me now. Now I can make a clean break and not look back. Well done DiDio. Well done. And I’m speaking as a lifelong DC fan who has been buying their books since the mid 70′s.

I haven’t enjoyed Hellblazer in a long time so to have the title cancelled doesn’t seem that big of deal to me. I’m just not enjoying anything by Milligan these days. I bought the first and second issue of JLD and dropped it, but picked it up as soon as I heard Lemire was on and have been really enjoying it. Don’t really care if he’s not British, he writes a great Constantine. I’ll try out the new Constantine series because I like the creative team. Venditti has really entertained me on XO Manowar so I’ll give him a chance. Books end sometimes people. Just be glad he’s not in limbo or having Scott Lobdell write his book. And I can always go back and read the old issues.

Let me ask you this, Sonia, when was the last time you mentioned Hellblazer that didn’t include cancellation or whining about Constantine being in the New 52? It’s you comic critics/commentator/whatever are just as much to blame for Hellblazer’s cancellation. Instead of the whining and nitpicking, you could have recommended so many readers to try Hellblazer before its cancellation. I don’t have blog or website to inform people about this, but I do what I can to urge people to read it by word of mouth, especially to those who are tired of the same old stuff from DC and Marvel. You should be glad that DC managed to get 300 issues out of Hellblazer, I doubt many publishers *cough* Marvel *cough* will do the same with a comic like Hellblazer.

Honestly, I think all of this fanboy angst over the end of Hellblazer is quite silly. Though I love John Constantine as a character, I found that Vertigo had forced him into a parody of a tragic Gothguy straight out of Beetlejuice (“My life is one big dark room!!!”). Wouldn’t it be nice if John Constantine didnt always have to suffer because Vertigo fans say so?

Maybe, just maybe, the New 52 Constantine could be bigger than the one-dimensional caricature (“anti-hero trickster suffers because he is not allowed to have a good day, EVER!”) that Sonia Harris and the rest of you old fogies prefer. Why don’t you give this new Constantine title a chance before damning it to perdition?

If DC wants a nuDC version of John running around so people can see him interact with superheroes, then fine. But I am sad and annoyed at ending the Vertigo series. I’ve been enjoying Pete Milligan & Guiseppe Camuncoli’s run A LOT and have loved the addition of Epiphany to the cast. It’s been my favorite monthly (just edging out Chew) for the last several years. I know the monthly sales have sucked, but it’s no surprise with Vertigo clearly becoming less and less of a priority for DC’s upper management team. R.I.P. HELLBLAZER. It’s been a fantastic 25 years.

@ rob t

Have you read Hellblazer lately? They allowed John to *gasp* get married! And he’s arguably the happiest he’s ever been as a character with his wife by his side. And Sonia already said she tried the DC version of the character, in JL Dark, and didn’t care for him. Something I also concur with…

People are wildly missing what the issues are here.

First off, there are two things happening, which are related, but still fairly separate. One is that Hellblazer is ending, the other is that a Constantine series is starting in the New 52 DCU. Let’s handle these one at a time…

Hellblazer ending I have no problem with. One of the hallmarks of Vertigo has been that their series’ have definitive endings. Preacher, Y, Sandman, 100 Bullets, Scalped, Transmet, Invisibles, Lucifer, Sweet Tooth (soon)… All of the major Vertigo series have done so except Hellblazer and Fables. And some would say that Fables might have been better off had it ended. Hellblazer has allowed Constantine to age in real time, meaning the character is around 60 now, which is nearing retirement age, and Cerebus had previously set the precedent for a 300 issue, 25 year run ending in the death of the protagonist (which is how I expect Hellblazer to end). There is nothing wrong with the series going out this way. Of course people will miss it, but we also missed all of the other great Vertigo characters whose stories ended.

The Constantine series starting in the New 52 DCU is a separate matter, and I agree that it’s something of a tragedy. The issue is the debate over who John Constantine, as a character, fundamentally is. And it seems to me (and I suspect, to most people) that Constantine should be a mature readers character, and that he ought not to run around in the same stories/universe as Superman and the Teen Titans. Yes, I am fully aware that Alan Moore created him under these conditions, and that the character originally existed that way in the mid-80′s. I’m a big fan of Moore’s Swamp Thing run, so everyone can skip lecturing me about it. But the trap here is the thinking on DC’s part that “If Alan Moore can do something well, so can the rest of us!” Well, no… you can’t. Moore made Constantine work as a DC character, but until the New 52, no other writer had even tried to have him interact with other DC characters (discounting Swamp Thing) except for Neil Gaiman in Books of Magic. And again, that’s just as unuseful an example as Moore, because other writers aren’t Neil Gaiman. When the Hellblazer series started 25 years ago, Jaime Delano (with Moore’s blessing) established what type of character Constantine was–Very British, dark, self-contained, for mature readers, etc. Most comic book characters spend their first few years being changed around a little until a sort of status quo is reached (it happened with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Wolverine, Hulk, etc. Spider-Man is one of the only major characters to not undergo any significant change from his first appearance). With Constantine, we reached that status quo with Delano’s run, and every writer since has written that specific character–Ennis, Ellis, Jenkins, Azzarello, Carey, Milligan, Mina, Aaron, etc.

What this new series is doing is fundamentally altering the character’s status quo from the last 25 years. From a publishing standpoint, I understand the desire to do this, but it’s a slippery slope. And the reason readers of the character feel betrayed is the same way they would feel betrayed if the New 52 had launched a Jack Knight Starman series, or a Morpheus series, or a Hitman series. Yes, it is a publisher’s job to make money, but it is also in a publisher’s best interest to at least pretend as though the opinions of their readers matter to them. That has been the major flaw of the Didio/Johns era at DC. Every time they run into a dead end (usually a self-caused one), they just blow things up and start over. It’s an incredibly flawed business model, and it will catch up to them.

And not only is the new Constantine series fundamentally changing the character, but it’s also guilty of DC’s other general problem right now: They’re rehashing old ideas in lieu of any attempt for new ones. They’re bringing the character back in time to what he was like 25+ years ago, but dumbed down. They’re trying to turn someone who is distinctly NOT an all-ages character into an all-ages character. It’s just really unfortunate. And Constantine has almost always been a character used to support character stories. But now DC is trying to make every story “matter” the same way they have with all of their New 52 titles, as though every issue must be about “world building” or else people will have no interest in it. Again, it’s unfortunate. And while I won’t be reading Constantine, of course I don’t know that it will be a bad comic, and I’m not condemning it as such. The comic might be great, and I wish the best of luck to the creators. But there’s no doubt that the title will have the Didio stink about it.

And as for the movie, and the issue of British portrayal…. It doesn’t matter that British actors are playing Batman, or Superman, or Spider-Man, because the actors are using fake American accents, and the characters are still set in Gotham, Metropolis, and NYC. There’s nothing wrong with hiring the best actor for the job. On the other hand, what if Andrew Garfield used his British accent and Spider-Man was set in London? What sort of backlash would that have unleashed? What if the Harry Potter films were set in Los Angeles, and used American actors? What if the next James Bond film imported the series to Washington DC and had an American Bond working for the CIA? Would people be pissed? Yes, they would be, because the character they loved would have been sacrificed in favor of ticket sales. That’s EXACTLY what happened with the Keanu Reeves Constantine film. Making the character American destroys the character. To understand the fundamental elements of the Constantine character, you have to understand the way he’s used as a foil to British class struggles.

And before anyone brings it up, yes, I’m aware Idris Elba is being talked about as the next Bond and I’m all for it. And I’m not for it because I love affirmative action, or because I like daring moves, or because I like pissing off conservatives… I’m for it because Elba is a great actor and he’ll make a great James Bond. Being white is not a fundamental element of the James Bond character, it’s an incidental effect of his having been created in the 1950s. If someone who had never heard of James Bond asked you to explain the character, you’d definitely mention that he’s British, but I doubt you’d think about mentioning his color. Because it’s not important.

But Constantine being British IS important, just as it’s important with Harry Potter and James Bond, and just as it’s important that Spider-Man’s American, or that Wolverine is Canadian, or that Nightcrawler is German, etc. It’s immensely frustrating when the fundamental aspects of characters are changed for money, and that’s why the Constantine movies pissed people off, and that’s why the New 52 series is pissing people off. If it doesn’t piss you off, that’s fine, but surely it’s not difficult to fathom why it does for others.

@ Third Man

VERY well said.

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And it seems to me (and I suspect, to most people) that Constantine should be a mature readers character, and that he ought not to run around in the same stories/universe as Superman and the Teen Titans.

Indeed, as if to prove your point, Moore’s “Twilight” proposal centers on John Constantine and ends up being about the ruin and fall of the DC Universe…which is prevented only by Constantine turning down his once chance at happiness. Even in-story, he doesn’t “work” in the mainline DC Universe as originally conceived.

By the way, did the makers of the 2005 film realize how many adventure heroes have British origins? Aside from Harry Potter:

if you look at the supposedly well-known adventure franchises, they curiously usually feature British heroes, even if created by foreigners (Tarzan, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Horatio Hornblower, Allan Quatermain, Richard Hannay, Sherlock Holmes, etc.).

Quick question; will this new John Constantine now have a more Doctor Strange feel to his adventures? Prose series about benevolent sorcerers in contemporary times stand as somewhat rare in prose prior to 1996, with exceptions such Katherine Kurtz’s the Adept, Will Stanton, and a few others. So, a less flamboyant version of this trope seems less established.

Honestly, I sort of liked the clearly-a-part-of-the-DC-universe version of Constantine from Rick Veitch’s Swamp Thing run. If DCnu’s Constantine gets to explain the latest summer crossover to an autistic kid with action figures again, I’m sort of for it.

Late to the party here. Way late, really, but still feel like adding my two cents.

I’m fairly new to John Constantine. I haven’t followed him for years, as I just got back into comic books for the first time in about fifteen years. My first exposure to him was Gaiman’s Book of Magic, followed by single issues of the Paul Jenkins run I picked up in the dollar comic bin at the local book store, and finally some TPB of the Delano run. I haven’t checked out the Garth Ennis run or anything after the late 90′s so maybe I don’t have the attachment to the character that some have…

That being said, I don’t think the John Constantine in the New 52 is bad. Maybe it’s because the reboot is allowing me to do something I didn’t do since I was twelve – follow a current comic book – and I’m a little blinded by nostalgia. Maybe, its because ever incarnation of Constantine had a slightly different voice. Or maybe, because I’m used to seeing characters change from writer to writer, something I picked up on as a kid.

I think the aversion to the “new mainstream Constantine” is just that; the mainstreaming of the character, like the mainstreaming of a band or a book. “It’s popular now, so it sucks”. Don’t get me wrong, I’d wager some people might genuinely hate the “new” John (even if aside from cussing a bit less, even in the first few issues of JLD he comes off as a the same character I grew to like, despite being a touch different because it wasn’t written by people I’m familiar with) – but he’s still grittier, at least in my opinion, that the Book of Magic version. Either way, the fact that Constantine (and now Timothy Hunter as he debuted in JLD a bit ago) are now “bigger” names, maybe the “old” versions will get more press – and as sales of the “real” versions of the characters will increase. Hell, if folks like Nu Timothy Hunter, maybe I can get some TPBs the on-going Books of Magic series – throw away my single issues.

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