Fan-favorite occult detective John Constantine has recently benefitted from an elevated profile due to the “Constantine” TV series on NBC, which wrapped its first season a few weeks back. While it’s not yet known if the show will return, the character isn’t going anywhere — a new series is launching in June as part of DC Comics refreshed publishing line, “Constantine: The Hellblazer.”
The creative team is co-writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV — who are also working together on DC’s new “Dark Universe” series — and artist Riley Rossmo, who has had major hits at Image Comics including the recent “Rasputin.” Notably, the series adds “Hellblazer” back to the title — the name Constantine’s adventures ran under for 300 issues, mostly as part of DC’s mature readers imprint Vertigo, before ending in 2013.
Here’s the solicitation for their first issue:
CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER #1
Written by MING DOYLE and JAMES TYNION IV
Art and cover by RILEY ROSSMO
1:25 Variant cover by MING DOYLE
On sale JUNE 10 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The dark adventures of DC’s foremost occult detective continue in an all-new series as he investigates the cruelest case he’s ever come across – his own dark history!
CBR News spoke with both Doyle and Tynion last month during a press event at DC’s Burbank headquarters for a quick chat on “Constantine: The Hellblazer,” the prospect of making him “an asshole to himself,” working with Rossmo and distancing the title character slightly from his iconic trench coat look — though he will still have a jacket, the co-writers assure.
CBR News: Ming, James — let’s start with the significance of putting the word “Hellblazer” back in the title. Other than being a cool title with a lot of name value, how do both of you see that as being significant to what you’re doing with the book?
Ming Doyle: It’s hugely significant. It really lets readers know that our intention is to take Constantine back to what he was at the start — a young, sexy, dangerous, bad dude. Who looks like Sting. [Laughs] No, the Sting is tertiary.
A lot of stuff has happened to John over the years, and there have been amazing, incredible stories, but really we’re just boiling him down to the most simple, core tenets of his character, then exploring how that impacts him. It’s going to be a lot more of a personal story than John’s been in before. Usually we see him in a tricky context, or see him being an asshole to other people.
James Tynion IV: We’ll see a lot of that, too.
Doyle: But we’re also going to have a lot of interesting opportunities to see him be an asshole to himself, I think.
Tynion: And I think that’s key. There’s a cost of being John Constantine. But going back to the dangerous, sexy edge of him is the fact that we’re talking about a character who when he first showed, he was in “Swamp Thing.” He was in the blue suit, trench coat over it, his hair slicked back — he was this dynamic, sexy, dangerous man, that you didn’t know if you had a conversation with him if at the other end of that conversation, your life could be ruined. But you still needed to have the conversation, because there’s a dark magnetism to him. It draws people to him, and oftentimes they get hurt. Sometimes it’s intentional, and sometimes it’s not. But bad things follow John Constantine. And there’s a cost from that.
Doyle: When you think of Constantine, you think the trench coat, the grizzled look, the cigarette. I think really we’re just getting back to what he was before that, which is what James touched on — the danger. Not the trappings, so much. The trappings will change.
Tynion: He’s still going to feel like the Constantine you know, because it’s still the core Constantine.
Doyle: We’re not updating him, we’re restoring him. Like an antique car. [Laughs]
Tynion: I feel like there’s an opportunity with that character to take him away from a certain kind of grittiness that I think became part of the character over the course of the ’90s and 2000s that was a really great way to tell a Constantine story, but there are a lot of great Constantine stories with that Constantine. Taking him back to a core place, and the original idea of him…
Doyle: It’s a springboard. You see so many different types of stories with Batman where he’s not at all the same guy in any of them. Constantine’s pretty much been on that path, and we’re just going to explore a little side route. A little creepier.
I also have to ask about the artist on the book — Riley Rossmo. I didn’t expect to see his name attached to a DC book — how excited are you about working with him?
Doyle: It’s been great. We’ve been throwing a ton of visual inspiration his way, and he is coming back with some character designs that are off the wall, that I think people are going to really love seeing.
Tynion: I can’t wait until people see his John. It’s so John, but it feels so new, but still so purely the character.
Doyle: Kind of when you think of Constantine in the trench coat — if I saw that guy in real life now, I would look at him, first of all immediately assume he’s a creeper, which is correct for the character, but I’d also be like, “Whose dad are you dressing as? Which detective from a noir novel are you?” The look that we wanted to build with Constantine, and that Riley is really delivering on, is 2015 John. Not John dressing up in his dad’s, or his older iteration’s clothes.
He does always seem to be wearing the same clothes.
Tynion: Exactly. But he doesn’t have to be.
Doyle: Is he like a Mormon salesman?
Tynion: And the trench coat look…
Doyle: It’s iconic for a good reason.
Tynion: He’s going to wear a jacket. Everyone calm down.
Doyle: I love clothes, and so does John. We’re going to open it up.
Tynion: Riley’s been doing incredible work on “Rasputin” over at Image right now. I’ve loved his work for years. The opportunity to work with him on this — he has this edge to his art that’s exactly what we’re going for. The feel of the characters, and the energy of his style — he also is incredible at horror. There’s a reason he is an incredible choice for this book. The second he came on board, both of us were thrilled. This is a great time that we have here, that we are going to build this dark corner of the DC Universe. I am very, very excited for everyone to experience it with us.
“Constantine: The Hellblazer” #1 is scheduled for release on June 10.