Well, it’s the end of an era as DC/Vertigo brings Hellblazer, its longest running series, to a close today with Hellblazer #300, and I’m sad to see it go.
It’s been almost 30 years since John Constantine’s first appearance in the pages of Swamp Thing in the 1980s, and it’s been 25 years since the character’s solo series began, and over that time, many readers have come to follow the adventures of the always duplicitous magician as he has cheated death time after time.
Without getting too much into whether it’s good or not for DC to move Constantine full time into the regular DC Universe (as part of New 52 DC Universe), I can’t help but feel that comics are a little bit more boring without Hellblazer. Hellblazer has been a book that offered something a little different. You may not have read it all the time, but it was always there, as true as the North Star. The series maintained a generally high quality and was the launch pad for many successful creators. Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, and Grant Morrison all worked on the series early in their careers.
Hellblazer was a series that didn’t change that much over its run. Many of its stories are just variations on the basic “Constantine runs into a demon and has to outsmart him” formula, but it was a formula that allowed writers to put their own stamp on the character and was consistently enjoyable. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom about the future of the Vertigo imprint. I certainly hope that it goes on, but the end of Hellblazer doesn’t leave me with a ton of confidence that it will last for much longer.
Let’s not cry though, let’s celebrate Hellblazer‘s run. If you’ve never read a Hellblazer story, you can do a lot worse than tracking down the Ennis classic Dangerous Habits story arc, or really any of the Ennis run. Below is a list of some of the trades for you to get started.
– John Constantine, Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Original Sins
– John Constantine, Hellblazer, Vol. 2: The Devil You Know
– John Constantine, Hellblazer, Vol. 3: The Fear Machine
– John Constantine, Hellblazer, Vol. 4: The Family Man
Shame to see Vertigo get sucked in with the kiddies market.
With Alan Moore/DKR and the Vertigo line. It revolutionized comics and made it possible(even if rarely successful) for comic creators to release true mature works of art that any discerning eye could respect.
DC rebooted everything because the whole thing with having 500 issues of each superhero comic that could only keep repeating itself is a redundancy only a race track could match.
It’s still a Cheap Trick! And Vertigo had the only editors that actually had a clue!
Comment by Midas68 — February 21, 2013 @ 4:54 am
Nice eulogy for an often great series. I think it’s important to consider what place editors took in this decision, as pointed out on a different article, I read earlier. It’s too bad they had to end Hellblazer to replace it with Constantine.
Comment by Deadshot042 — February 21, 2013 @ 8:02 pm
I can’t beleive what DC has decided to due here. I’ve been a reader of Hellblazer for years and am really dissapointed. How can they even imagine a PG rated John Constantine ? Will he trade his “Fags ” for bubble gum ? His ” pints ” for diet coke ? No more naked demonic bloodbaths ? I hope that Dark Justice League isnt an indication of where they plan to go with him.If so Im all done.
Comment by Christian LaVenture — February 23, 2013 @ 7:43 am