Tainted Blood: Constantine’s blood is demoniacally tainted, initially by a blood transfusion from the demon Nergal, and later by sex with a succubus. His blood has been shown to have healing properties. It has also acted as a defense mechanism when attacked by the King of the Vampires.
Bitter Taste Defense
Sorcery: Constantine is a magician but unlike most magicians, Constantine rarely uses magical spells, unless he really has to, especially in combat.
Some examples of Constantine’s magic:
Divination: Used a pendulum and map to find the location of a magical disturbance.
Demon Summoning: Summoned the demon Nergal to destroy a monster for him, which it did (although John lost control, due to his inexperience).
Black Magic Cursing: Placed a curse on his father that caused him to waste away.
Spirit Ward Creation: Placed a magical sigil on a succubus that prevented the forces of Heaven and Hell from tracking her. As well as using sigils to hide himself from Satan.
Golemancy: Raised a golem. 2
Oculumancy: Erased a man’s traumatic memories.
Necromancy: Raised a group of murder victims as zombies to attack their murderer.
Illusion: Making people think he’s someone or something else. Or using Illusion to scare susceptible opponents into catatonic insanity.
Synchronicity Wave Traveling: An instinctual supernatural ability to be in the right place at exactly the right time. This has led John to uncanny luck, like winning incredible amounts of money from Arcade machines and Casinos. Avoiding harm. And more times than not – to meet the right kind of ally to help prevent or stop an apocalyptic event from happening.
Mind Control: often through the manipulation of opponents and allies.
Master Manipulator: John Constantine is an excellent con artist and negotiator. These skills are often more useful than his magical ones. Constantine faces most of his challenges relying primarily on his cunning.
Arcane Knowledge: he has vast knowledge of the occult,
Well Known: an extensive list of contacts.
Stage Magician: Constantine has also exhibited considerable mastery in “stage magic skills”
Scathing wit? It is rumored that his match has magical properties. John is almost never seen without a pack of his favorite Silk Cut cigarettes.
Chas’ Taxi… much to his friend’s chagrin…
While only children, John and his older sister Cheryl lived briefly with their aunt and uncle in Northampton to escape from their father’s alcoholism and subsequent imprisonment for stealing a female neighbour’s underwear. They later then moved back to Liverpool when their father was released. As a child, one of John’s first acts of magic was to hide all of his childhood innocence and vulnerability in a box to rid himself of it.9 Later, in the 1960s, a teenage John ran away from home, but not before a botched curse on his father caused him to become withered and frail. John eventually made his permanent home in London in 1969, rooming with Francis “Chas” Chandler, a young man who has since gone on to become John’s closest — and longest surviving — friend. During the 1970s, John became involved in occult circles in London, and visited San Francisco, where he met, and subsequently began a relationship with, the female magician Zatanna. He also became enamored of punk rock; after seeing the Sex Pistols at the Roxy Club in London in 1977, John cut his long hair and formed his own band, Mucous Membrane, whose members included Chandler (as a roadie), a drummer named Beano and fellow Liverpudlian Gary Lester.
John’s first venture into occult “heroism”, as depicted in a flashback in Hellblazer #11, was a disaster. On tour with Mucous Membrane at the Casa Nova Club in Newcastle, he found the aftermath of a magical orgy gone horribly wrong: an abused child, Astra, had conjured a hideous monster that took revenge on the adults who were tormenting her, and the monster refused to leave.
With typical recklessness, John convinced some members of the band, along with several occultist friends, to try destroying the creature by summoning a demon of their own. Unfortunately, this demon was not under their control and after it had destroyed the child’s monster, it tormented Constantine’s friends and took the child to Hell. John suffered a nervous breakdown after this incident, and was committed to a mental institution, which he drifted in and out of over the years.10 He was severely abused by the staff during the time he spent there, as they believed that he was the one who had molested and murdered Astra. John was never officially cured in any way — his time at the asylum ended when London crimelord Harry Cooper used his influence to spring John, wanting him to return his dead son to life. (Incapable of doing this, John roped several friends into forcing a demon to inhabit the corpse, and tried to forget the whole thing) The guilt of Astra hung over him for many years until, in his mid-forties, he used some magic and con-artistry to free not only her, but also the souls of all the other children trapped in Hell. As for the rest of the “Newcastle Crew,” the incident left the group both physically and psychologically scarred. However in Sandman #3 Constantine is relieved by Morpheus of the nightmares that plagued him since the incident .
While first studying magic, John had a relationship with Zatanna. The two remain friends — more or less — although John feels partially responsible for her father Zatara’s death. It is rumored that Zatanna had a child by Constantine, but whether that is true or not is questionable.
The Newcastle Exorcism
John’s first demonic encounter was with the demon Nergal, whom he assisted angels in defeating. However, the experience was disastrous — both ruining and ending lives — and John was committed to the Ravenscar Secure Hospital for two years afterward. 1
John also distances himself from heavenly forces, claiming they are no better when it comes to interfering with humans than the demons.
Death and Rebirth
A habitual smoker, John learned he had contracted lung cancer during the Dangerous Habits arc. After several failed attempts to save his own life — and royally pissing off the first of the fallen in the process by cheating him out of a friend’s soul — John made a deal with each of the three rulers of hell. He promised his soul to each of them, and each was too eager to own the infamous John Constantine’s soul that they all individually accepted without any real question. To bring his plan in to motion, John was forced to commit suicide by slitting his wrists, bringing each of the Fallen forth to collect on their deals. None of the three were willing to give up their claim on Constantine’s soul, and they knew if he were to die they would go to war over it — thus ripping Hell apart. Tricked, the demons were forced to save John’s life and subsequently remove his lung cancer — in the most painful manner possible — to ensure he continued living. Upon their exit, he flipped them the bird. No matter how his own life goes, John stays committed to battling evil — if it is in his own best interests.
In the year 2000 while in America, he was framed for the murder of an old friend called “Lucky” Fermin (who had committed suicide) and locked up in a maximum security prison. After arranging a prison riot and having his release orchestrated by FBI agent Frank Turro, Constantine (officially killed in the riot) traveled across America for a time on a personal quest to ask the forgiveness of the widow of Lucky, for whose death he felt responsible even though he was innocent of his murder. After encountering, roughly in order, the psychotic pornography-making relatives of Lucky, a huge black boar, and a group of snowbound killers, Constantine’s journey culminated in his discovery that Lucky’s widow Marjorie had joined a neo-Nazi group. Constantine, who has often shown a dislike for “fascists”, disassembled the group from the inside and burned Marjorie’s house to the ground after Lucky’s ghost revealed he had killed himself as part of a deal he and Marjorie had made with Stanley Manor, a billionaire who Constantine once swindled in the seventies, to frame Constantine for murder. At this point Constantine was contacted by Agent Turro, who had initiated his release from prison, and asked to take part in an attempt to incriminate billionaire Stanley Manor (whom the agent knew was responsible for numerous illegal and immoral acts, but who, because of his wealth, could never be brought to justice). To this end Constantine frequented a BDSM sex club, seduced Stanley, raised the ghosts or the illusion of the ghosts of Stanley’s parents, and finally faked his own death, all part of a con to bring about Stanley’s own suicide. Unfortunately, Turro was killed in the process.
On return to Britain in 2003 and after reconciling with his sister (who believed he was dead), he went on to be involved in a magic war in London and was horrified to find his niece Gemma – who he’d wanted to keep out of this life – had become a witch. He soon ended up organising a counterstrike against the Shadow Dog, warned of its coming and believing it was an entity that brought death and madness; instead, it was a guardian against the true enemy, the Beast, who was manipulating John into giving it free access to humanity. Horror and carnage swept the globe, and only with the help of Gemma and the Swamp Thing did he resurrect the Shadow Dog and defeat the Beast. In the process, he was rendered amnesiac, leaving him vulnerable to the schemes of the demon Rosacarnis. To get his memories back, he had to spend a day in her service in which she had him father three demonic children, who went on to massacre anyone who knew Constantine, from friends to enemies to people who’d only briefly met him. Among them there was also his sister Cheryl; one of his sons had in fact exploited her husband’s religious fanaticism to make him see his wife as a witch – and thus a person to be killed. This would set up Constantine to go on journey to Hell in the hopes to return his sister’s soul. Accompanying him was Nergal, the demon he thought he had killed by sending him to the border of Heaven. Actually Nergal had escaped that fate, but was punished by the First with death; yet his essence survived, was able to build a surrogate body, and tried to get his power back from Rosacarnis, his own daughter. Greatly weakened and without his original demonic body, Nergal could do nothing when Rosacarnis ordered him again killed.
Notably, Nergal possessed Chas in order to contact and help Constantine – when the possession ended, Chas found himself briefly but totally uninhibited, and this led him to betray his spouse with a barely-of-age prostitute – and later, when he got back home, he also beat his wife. Constantine’s demonic daughter spied him, contacted him and got some fragments of Nergal’s “soul” out of Chas, rendering him again his old self – this was not an altruistic act, as she was able to discern who was aiding John. She subsequently left Chas to the wreckage that his life had suddenly become. While in Hell, John and Nergal met the demon Constantine, who tried to kill the original one. John was forced to let Nergal enter his body in order to finish him. Later they also encountered Ellie, who seemed to have quite pardoned John for him selling her out to the First. She was not subject to any torture or punishment, either. The couple finally arrived at Rosacarnis’s hall, where there was a feast with all three of Constantine’s children, the First, and many demons from all Hell.
Nergal left Constantine’s body and went to inhabit that of his brother, whom Rosacarnis had poisoned for years (he had an invulnerable body, and wanted regency; so she incapacitated him with poison and kept him that way ever since). After doing this, Nergal storms towards his daughter and Constantine. Constantine forces Rosacarnis to “swear so it will stick” that she will release his sister’s soul if he stops Nergal. She agrees and John then offers himself as a human voodoo doll. Because of Nergal’s earlier possession of his body, any damage done to John would be mirrored on Nergal. Nergal, however, calls the bluff, showing that the effect goes both ways by clawing at his chest slightly. John begs Rosacarnis to kill him in order to save his sister, but just as she’s about to, the First of the Fallen intervenes and immediately kills Rosacarnis, since Constantine’s soul is his by “right of insult” and will only be taken when he deems fit. The First also kills Rosacarnis’ two sons, but spares the daughter, who had been dealing with issues of identity and had doubts about whether she wanted to continue to exist.
Following this, The First commands Nergal to release the soul he’s holding. Cheryl’s soul is pure and innocent and does not belong in Hell, but The First offers her a truly devilish deal. Informing her that her husband, Constantine’s brother-in-law Tony, has killed himself with her blood still staining his hands, thus making him twice damned, and offering to fairly divide her husband’s punishment between the two of them if she stays of her own free will. Constantine attempts in vain to argue that Tony murdered her and doesn’t deserve that mercy. Despite all that has happened, Cheryl still loves her husband enough to accept The First’s deal and decides to stay. Constantine can do nothing as The First gloats over his victory and then sends him back home. Unable to look at his niece Gemma’s tear-filled eyes because of his failure, Constantine runs barefoot down the stairs and into the Liverpool night.