The Hellblazer, John Constantine is getting a new series in DC's Rebirth, but before that can happen, there will be a Rebirth issue on July 20th. This time, the famed, snarky, DC anti-hero will be written by Simon Oliver (Last Gang in Town), and the book will be drawn by Moritat (All-Star Western). The creative team discussed the upcoming series with us and what we can expect.
Comic Vine: What is going on in this new John Constantine series?
Simon Oliver: We’re back in London, as Constantine has unfinished business. But of course one thing leads to another and the deal he did to get Swamp Thing’s help keeping the DCU at bay spirals into a new story, to find Abby who has vanished from the Rot.
Who is the character John calls "Laughing Boy" and what threat does he pose?
Oliver: It goes back to some New 52 continuity. There was an implied suggestion that John had to leave London because of a “curse,” but it was vague, so I joined the dots and came up with “Laughing Boy” as the demon behind the curse. It was a bluff that saved John’s ass that time, and one that Laughing Boy turns back on John.
How does this John Constantine differ from the one you worked on in Chas: The Knowledge?
Oliver: I think I had Constantine taking too much ecstasy with a model in Ibiza and passing out, for days, leaving Chas to save the world. So yeah, pretty much the same guy. Maybe a little older and a little more self-reflective, but basically the same old bastard he was then.
Moritat, you've spent the past few years at DC working with Jonah Hex. How does it feel to be working on another cult favorite character, but in a contemporary setting?
Moritat: I am very, very happy to be off the radar and deep in the back alleys of the DC universe. I think DC and I have an understanding that I like the characters with hygiene problems. I've been dying to get to the current timeline. It's so much easier to draw from the here and now—I will miss the historically accurate fans, hours of research, and cosplayers, but look forward to the new incarnation of wizards and tattoo, branding enthusiasts.
Artistically, what are you going to be doing with the magic aspect of this book?
Moritat: oooooo! Kristy Quinn (the editor) is giving me such a good opportunity to be able to be able to control aspects of the finished artwork so that I can try out all kinds of effects I've been sitting on and burning to use! This is one of the most exciting parts of this book! I can talk for hours about it, but it would be better to show everyone.
How will Swamp Thing play a role in this series? How much will we be seeing him?
Oliver: I’ve always liked the frenemy aspect of their relationship. Swamp Thing is one of the few characters that’s not in some kind of awe of John and as much as they complain about one another they actually like and need each other. Swamp Thing will be in and out of the story, and as much as I can use him the better.
You get to work with a few superheroes in the opening issue. Was there anyone, in particular, you were more excited to put your spin on?
Moritat: Superheroes? What? In the rebirth issue? Are there any real heroes in a John Constantine book? I think characters come visit to work out some hidden demons. hahaha. I think that any hero you see appear in a Hellblazer book is going to have a spin that you have never seen in any other book. So it will not be me doing the spinning.
Will this series have any connections to the previous Constantine books from the New 52?
Oliver: I’m not turning my back on the most recent run at all, and will be referencing it, and using it as a starting point for John emotionally. He’s going to do a fair amount of reflecting on all the things from his past that have led him to this point in the present.
What do you like or find compelling about this character?
Oliver: He’s fricking John Constantine, he’s either a great magician pretending to be an arsehole, or an arsehole pretending to be a great magician, take your pick. He’s human, he’s arrogant, he’s flawed, but despite that, or maybe because of it, he has this incredible charisma and we might not always see it, but somewhere, somehow, I think under it all he’s a good guy, just a very broken one. So like all great characters, I think that’s what fans see in him, basically a little bit of themselves. I know I do.
Moritat: Ah. The long-term appeal of John Constantine, that has put him in the top ten comic book characters of all time, is not the moral argument of Batman weighing if he has to step a bit past his sanity, or Superman performing the most selfless act to save humanity. Hellblazer lives and thrives in the haze and gray of the polarized rights and wrongs. John Constantine is the character we misfits seek and scream for when heroes can't save us!
The Hellblazer: Rebirth comes to a store near you on July 20th.