John Constantine, the occult magician and con man otherwise known as Hellblazer, appeared in one of the earliest issues of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg. Despite the fact that both Constantine and the King of Dreams were titans of DC’s legendary Vertigo imprint, they didn’t have many more interactions than that. But this fall, Constantine is reuniting with the characters of The Sandman as DC launches a new Hellblazer comic as part of its ongoing Sandman Universe line.
The Sandman Universe launched last year with four connected comics: The Dreaming, Lucifer, House of Whispers, and Books of Magic. Now a fifth will join them. A one-shot issue called The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1 will arrive on Oct. 30 from The Dreaming writer Simon Spurrier and artist Marcio Takara, followed by the ongoing series John Constantine, Hellblazer from Spurrier and artist Aaron Campbell beginning on Nov. 27.
“Year One was just the start. Now you get to inhabit the worlds, books, and houses we built for you,” Gaiman, who oversees the Sandman Universe line despite not writing any of the books, said in a statement. “I was thrilled when I was told that John Constantine — the original, demon-haunted one who first showed up in Swamp Thing’s ‘American Gothic’ story — is coming back to his murky and dangerous roots. More magic and more darkness and not a few gods and dreams are here for you to explore.”
The Sandman Universe originally arrived as part of DC’s attempt to relaunch its Vertigo brand. Last month, the publisher officially announced they were shutting down that imprint, but the Sandman Universe books are sticking around. Now that they’re not walled off in their own Vertigo world, there’s a possibility the characters might interact more with mainstream DC continuity. Constantine seems the most likely to bring that connection, considering he recently had a prominent role in the mainstream Justice League Dark series.
This version of Constantine is special, however. The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer one-shot will begin in a moment from Gaiman’s original 1990 miniseries The Books of Magic, where Tim Hunter visited an epic magical war in the future where Constantine died. That version of Constantine has now returned in the present day, where he learns of a new young magician named Tim Hunter (the one from the current Books of Magic series) running around with a destiny to either be the greatest sorcerer in history or the greatest threat the world has ever seen. But what is John’s own destiny — to die all over again in a coming conflict, or to stop Tim Hunter?
“Hellblazer’s the one title I’ve always aspired to write. Ever since John Constantine slunk from Alan Moore’s brain into Swamp Thing, dropping secrets like grenades, bewildering vegetables, and spinning mysteries, I’ve been drawn to his misadventures with eerie gravity,” Spurrier said in a statement. “John Constantine is the cynic’s magician: a man of selfish drives and cataclysmic self-knowledge, who tries to do the right thing in spite of himself, in spite of the cost, in spite of the vile and violent world he occupies. He may not be the hero we need, but he’s definitely the bastard we deserve.”
Keep an eye out for those comics this fall. Above, see the cover for the first issue of the ongoing John Constantine, Hellblazer series by artist John Paul Leon. Below, check out the cover for The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer one-shot by Bilquis Evely (who was EW’s favorite comic artist of 2018 for her stunning work on The Dreaming).
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