There was a time where every famous wizard was a member of the aristocracy, from Merlin on Arthur’s court to Prospero being an archduke in the Tempest.
Then came Alan Moore, who wanted to throw a brick through the windows of Camelot. Moore created John Constantine in The Saga of Swamp Thing #37 as an act of class warfare. Constantine was a working class magician, a grifter barely getting by in Thatcher’s England.
The Character Himself:
The first and only thing that you need to know about John Constantine is that he is a con man. It is critical that you know that John Constantine will trick you, personally. Worse yet, knowing he’ll do that only makes it easier for him to do so. Hell, he does it to his creative teams.
This makes Constantine hard to do right. People get tangled up in his trademark coat, cockney swagger, and cigarette smoke. Or else they get charmed by his magic, criminality, and sexual promiscuity. But these are just cons, tricking people into playing “Spot the Red Queen,” all the while John’s behind them picking their pockets. Even Brian Azzarello, one of my favorite authors at the time, got his pants pulled down on that title.
This makes him a hard hero to start reading. Which is why we’ve gathered up the perfect places to start, no matter if you’re brand new to the character or an old salt looking start at the beginning.