Dating John Constantine is a hazard. Hell, knowing John Constantine is a hazard. You’re likely to end up dead, imprisoned in Hell or some other demonic dimension, or both. This applies to his love life, his “friends”, and his family.
Yet he still manages to mack the ladies. Guess they like the bad-boy thing: mysterious coat, magic, cigarettes, clandestine meetings with truly shady and bizarre characters. I’m not sure; I’m just flabbergasted at the way, and ease, with which he manages to pull in some of the most gorgeous and head-strong women in the Vertigo universe (though I’ve never seen him try to pull Death – well, there was that one time with the banana).
Kit Ryan, arguably the love of John’s life, came into public view in Hellblazer 42, which is a wonderful tale of camaraderie and drink in an old Irish tower reminiscent of some of the key sections in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Kit, an art student at that time, and far younger than John, was dating one of his best friends, Brendan Finn.
It’s obvious from the start that our favourite chain-smoking occultist is enamoured with the raven-haired Belfast beauty, but John doesn’t break any boundaries. He loves Brendan, and he won’t get in the way of what looks to be true love for his alcoholic friend. As time goes on, John and Brendan part ways, and Brendan ends up dead (though not it’s not John’s fault, surprisingly – Brendan manages to pull one over on the First of the Fallen after drinking himself to death). A bit later, John crosses paths with Kit again, who is know living in London painting covers for a book publisher, and their romance starts, first with tea, then pints, then…
Kit is the strongest and best woman John Constantine has ever met, and he loves her deeply, though he cannot say the words (an issue that rears its head at the end of their relationship). Kit knows what she wants, and despite being drawn to addicts, she wants nothing to do with their actual addictions. She dropped Brendan because of his drinking, and she tells John that she won’t have any of his magical goings-on anywhere near her. This surprises John’s niece, Gemma, during a trip to Liverpool.
Gemma just can’t imagine that someone who is with John doesn’t want anything to do with magic, and she is surprised by Kit’s reaction. Kit wants John; she doesn’t want what he has in his life.
In true Hellblazer fashion, however, this all comes to a brutal end that has Kit walking away from John, sending him into a downward spiral of depression, drink, and homelessness. Of course John can’t give up magic or even keep it away from people. That’s who he is; his life is magic, regardless how many times he wishes it weren’t. Readers of the series knew where this was going: tears, screams, and John alone, again. I know I screamed at the comic: “Just tell her you love her, you prat!”
One last thing about Kit Ryan: yes, she’s gorgeous; yes, she’s intelligent; yes, she’s head-strong; yes, she’s funny – she’s also the first character to star in a Hellblazer comic where John never appears, not once. It’s after everything has collapsed between the pair of them, and Kit heads back to her native Belfast. The special (there’s also a single issue in the main series) is called Heartland, and it’s one of the best things Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon have ever done together. It’s a story about Kit and Kit’s family in Belfast. John is mentioned, but he never appears. It’s a heart-wrenching tale about loss and family. I cannot recommend this special enough.