(art by Simon Bisley)
Though giving up reading monthly DC books after finally dumping WONDER WOMAN — I ditched all other DC monthlies months ago — I'm not saddened because the overall quality of the New 52 is shit (there are exceptions but I no longer give a tinker's damn). What does sadden me it that I am currently reading HELLBLAZER: DEATH AND CIGARETTES, the final collection in the twisted misadventures of the one and only "working class mage" and occult detective, John Constantine. I've loved the character since Day One and have followed him highly questionable exploits religiously for over 300 issues (including annuals, specials, and spin-offs), though in recent years I waited for the collected editions because the read better as complete arcs rather than in the short burst of monthly chapters. No other comics series has commanded that kind of loyalty from me and if you know me at all, both in the real world and here in the digital sphere, you know I am one very critical bitch. My sticking with HELLBLAZER through thick and thin speaks for itself (even during a few feeble arcs here and there), and it pains me to see ol' Johnny's adult-geared book canceled so he could be neutered and shoehorned into the general corporate narrative disaster that is the New 52's jailhouse ass-raping of the DC Universe. Knowing this collected edition will be my final dose of pure, unadulterated Constantine, I'm savoring every panel in order to stave off the inevitable, inexorable goodbye to a character who at times feels like he's an old friend. (Which is dodgy distinction, because we all know what tends to happen to Constantine's friends and loved ones...)
So, goodbye, un-neutered real deal John Constantine. May you not go gentle into that not-so-good night. May you always have a pack of fags — Silk Cut, of course — and a pint close at hand, and never upgrade your "trenchcoat brigade" fashion sense. I love you, you horrid old bugger, and I will miss you terribly.