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