A sly, feline hand slips into the back pocket of an unsuspecting businessman, gently pulling, in an unnoticeable fashion, at a black leather wallet.
A small pill made of unknown chemical substances is quickly and reprehensibly dropped into the hot cup of coffee of an oblivious newspaper reader.
A fry cook and a waitress antagonistically raise spatula and bagel knife against one another, the comedic scene betrayed by tempers raised amid overcooked hash.
These are the crimes, or perceived crimes, that exist on the front cover of Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes, a promise to the even stranger wrongdoings found within the inside pages, not to mention the back cover. Strange crimes, indeed.
Got your attention? Good. With crime, not all is as it seems.
The science fiction genre teaches you many things, but if there’s one specific lesson it reminds you of again and again, it’s that time is circular. Whether it’s a memorable episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation or a great read by Phillip K. Dick, events, we’re told, are meant to be repeated.
The same is true in comics.
Back in 1979-1980, DC Comics published the five-issue sci-fi anthology series, Time Warp. Today, the title comes back with a more sophisticated slant, courtesy of top industry writers and artists and published under the Vertigo Comics banner.
And boy! Is there a lot to look forward to here!
It’s not me, it’s you. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the current state of our relationship.
We’ve known each other for a long time now – very nearly thirty years – sharing tears and laughs and smokes and pints of ale together, but things haven’t been right between us for a while now, have they? Sure, there were good times, and I’ve told you about those days on a number of occasions. But lately, it feels like you’re not even here, never present the way I want you to be present. There have been some pretty dark times. None more so than last November. I won’t go into it now. I know you remember.
That November day hurt me, John. But I know, deep down inside your seemingly callous exterior and your mischievous, plotting habits, I know that it hurt you, too.
But hope springs eternal, doesn’t it? And this day, March 20, perhaps coincidentally the first day of spring, I still have hope for our us…
If you’re a regular to Biff Bam Pop!, John Constantine, everyone’s favourite mystical hellblazer, needs no introduction. We’ve written about the character a number of times here, most recently with the news of the cancellation of his long-running Vertigo Comics series called, appropriately enough, John Constantine: Hellblazer. You can read that article here.
I don’t need to reiterate my disappointment, which actually verges on anger, over that particular decision. The monthly Hellblazer title is the longest standing comic book that I have continuously read. I was there when Constantine first appeared within the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing (issue #37) in June 1985 under the pen of writer Alan Moore. And I was there when the popular character received his own series in 1988, written by the great Jamie Delano and foundationally illustrated by John Ridgeway.
That was twenty-five years ago, the series continuing each month, uninterrupted. Until now.
Hell has finally frozen over for our trench coat-wearing, silk-cut smoking, demon-slaying hellblazer.
Before Harry Potter There Was Timothy Hunter And The Books Of Magic On The Wednesday Run – January 30, 2013
A bespeckled and awkward twelve year-old boy (with parental issues no less) discovers that he’s possibly the world’s most powerful practitioner of magic. Oh! And he has an owl for a pet.
Sound remotely familiar?
For all intensive purposes, it shouldn’t. You see, it’s January 1990 – seven years before the publication of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – and the first issue of the four-issue mini series, The Books of Magic, is being published by Vertigo Comics. And its black-haired, skateboarding, main protagonist, the kid that would be eclipsed the world over by the fictional lightning-shaped scarred forehead of Harry, is named Timothy Hunter.
It’s not like this is revisionist history. No, The Books of Magic was an absolutely beautiful series – and proved to be an enormous missed opportunity for Vertigo/DC Comics and their parent company, Warner Brothers.
Sometimes, you can get really attached to a fictional character.
It doesn’t matter the genre: fiction, science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery or romance. It doesn’t matter the format: film, novel, short story, graphic novel or monthly comic book. A good character resonates, both effecting and affecting our minds and hearts. But when it comes time for that character to, well, end, when we view the last frame of the film or turn the last page of the (comic) book, we can feel like we’re losing a close friend. And, sadly, that’s what Wednesday, January 9, 2013 brings us. An ending.
The start of this new year means saying goodbye to a beloved character – no, a series of beloved characters – whose fictional lives have blossomed into friendships with a great many readers over the last four years.
With the publication of monthly issue #40 today, we say “goodbye” to Gus, Jepperd and the highly acclaimed comic book series, Sweet Tooth.
What do you do if you know you’re dying and that when you die, you know that you’re going to hell?
If you’re the conniving yet charismatic rogue mage John Constantine, you do the only thing that can be done: you hasten the inevitable.
That’s sort of the premise behind the famous comic book character’s story arc in the 2005 film called, appropriately enough, Constantine. Directed by Francis Lawrence, his big screen debut after making a name for himself in music videos, and starring Keanu Reeves as the titular anti-hero, Constantine wasn’t all that well received by either critics or fans upon it’s debut. But in the seven years since it’s release, a near-cult audience has embraced the film and hope, an emotion not necessarily synonymous with the character himself, abounds in terms of a sequel being made.
That time may soon be upon us. Until then, there’s still the original to affectionately watch and discuss.
Hellblazed Reading – An Era Comes To An End With DC/Vertigo’s Cancellation Of John Constantine: Hellblazer
A week ago, DC Comics announced the cancellation of Hellblazer.
Bullshit was my first thought.
There are certain instances where, in comics, because you’ve read a particular title for so long, because you’ve enjoyed the stories so much, you grow an affinity for a character as if they were, well, a friend. That’s how I felt about John Constantine, the English protagonist of the series. And there are many other Hellblazer comic book readers out there that feel the same way.
Hellblazer – nay, John Constantine: Hellblazer, the publication’s true, long-form title – is currently the longest running, uninterrupted, monthly series from either of the big two comic book publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Indeed, it’s the longest running title from Vertigo Comics, DC’s mature imprint, in the history of that offshoot. That’s something the company, the editors, and the various writers and artists on the series, should be quite proud about. And in many ways, it’s not damn well surprising.