The Cancellation of Hellblazer by Alex Correa
A personal favourite of mine is coming to a close in 2012 and with it comes the start of "Constantine" under the mainstream DC Comics umbrella. Unsurprisingly, there has been plenty of gripes from fans about this surprising decision and I'm writing not to add to the negativity. Rather, I feel that I should question DC Comics and help them come up with a reasonable excuse for going through with this controversial move.
Reason #1: Battleboard reasons! What's a "battleboard"? A battleboard refers to a website where (mostly) fervent comic book fans get to discuss made up fantasy brawls from anywhere in fiction like Thing versus Chewbacca and Optimus Prime versus Godzilla (Let's just say stepping foot inside a comic shop was a bit overwhelming in the pre-internet days). By placing John Constantine alongside characters like Captain Marvel and the Flash, his stories will have to adapt from these engrossing tales of an ex-con with knowledge of magic and the supernatural to stories with characters trying to outblast each other and prove who has the greater pew pew power. The latter could build John Constantine into a battleboard darling a la Doctor Strange. Why? All so hardcore fans will follow his new book.
Reason #2: Americanizing John Constantine! Because casting Keanu Reeves as a Brit wasn't enough, DC may be looking to drop some of Constantine's British traits in favour of something closer to American. The goal? Mainstream accessibility to casual readers for the sake of sales. As it stands, the 300 issue Hellblazer featured a rotating creative team of solely Brit writers (the exception being Brian Azzarello because he is Brian Azzarello). With the relaunch comes an AMERICAN writer , Robert Venditti, looking to make John Constantine fit into this mainstream universe. Will we see a switch from his favourite rand of Silk Cut to Marlboro? Only time will tell!
Reason #3: Prepping John Constantine for Hollywood! With the rise in popularity of horror-related television shows like The Walking Dead and Supernatural as well as movies like Paranormal Activity 1 through 4, DC Comics may be thinking that the time is right for taking another crack at a John Constantine film. Whether it's a sequel or the possible Guillermo Del Toro-made movie featuring Constantine and other mystical characters (Swamp Thing, Deadman and Zatanna), there could be much gained from putting him in the public eye right now.
Reason #4: Bringing an edge to mainstream DC! With a collection of characters that have been described mostly as boy scouts and one-dimensional do-gooders, DC Comics may be looking to harden their image with an edginess that doesn't depend on 90s storytelling or Rob Liefeld. What better way to go about this than by having Constantine's own personality rub off on their classic characters. John buying booze for the Teen Titans or having a pint with Green Lantern or teaching Captain Marvel how to smoke are all things fans of the Vertigo series have pictured, I'm sure. Now DC has an opportunity to make it happen!
In the past I've applauded DC Comics for their bold moves in making the new 52 happen so it would seem like hypocrisy if I didn't back them in their latest decision, even though it happens to affect one of my all-times faves. To be honest, I don't mind the move as much as others because 1. the Vertigo series hasn't been too compelling lately and 2. more eyes on John Constantine could only mean good things. Whether or not DC Comics succeed in making the new Constantine series a financial and/or critical hit, I will admire their braveness and just hope that there is a method to this madness.
Image courtesy of Curt Franklin & Chris Haley @ www.letsbefriendsagain.com.