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John Constantine

Please note this entry focuses on a very specific part of Constantine, and does not deal with the fictional character’s entire history. Refer to Wikipedia’s Constantine entry for a much more detailed account.

The great love of Constantine was a woman named Kit Ryan, but her prominence in his heart doesn’t preclude others in his life. The first indication of Constantine’s bisexuality was casually mentioned in a single panel of the character’s internal monologue in Hellblazer #51 in a single-issue story written by John Smith and drawn by Sean Phillips.

After a serious incident in which Kit fears for her life, Kit decided to leave Constantine, saying she’s moving to Belfast (issue #67). Constantine goes on a drunken bender, getting into a fight on the street with three young men. Long time friend Chas stops John and takes him back to his flat. John proceeds to provoke a fight with his friend. The behavior escalates till John finds himself drunk in a cemetery at midnight.

John continues to spiral out of control until he ends up as a drunk living on the street. It isn’t clear how much long this has been his current state though test in issue #68 indicates the month is December. Two antagonists are introduced: one man that is referred to as either “my lord” or “king of the vampires” and a younger looking man named Darius. They’ve taken a man, stripped him and tied him up at the top of one of the towers on Tower Bridge. Constantine is the topic of conversation. Darius suggests forgetting him so as not to “spoil a perfect evening” but the hint is ignored till a third vampire named Mary arrives and their feast starts. Darius erotically licks the man’s blood dripping from his lord’s bare chest and stomach. Once finished here the trio makes plans to split up to find more victims and later meet an hour before dawn.

Constantine meets a young man named Davey also living on the streets, and begrudgingly befriends him. Davey confides his story of leaving Sheffield for London after college and becoming a rent boy when there wasn’t any work to be found. They continue talking and drinking into the night. The story takes a dramatic turn when the King of Vampires happens to chance across a sleeping Constantine. Davey is likewise sleeping; his head nestled on John’s shoulder. (Issue #68)

Davey wakes up feeling sick, rousing Constantine as well. They go for a walk and Davey complains of his neck hurting. The king of vampires looks on from a distance as Constantine pulls off the man’s coat, revealing a blood soaked shirt. The king snaps his fingers and blood from Davey’s carotid artery spurts out, causing him to lose consciousness and die. Meanwhile, Darius and Mary have returned to their spot on Tower Bridge. Darius is concerned for their missing lord, referring to him as lover, king, and friend. Cut back to Constantine’s predicament of either certain death or transformation into a vampire. Either way it looks like the end when the king bites Constantine. Ingesting Constantine’s blood causes the king to react violently, much to his horror and Constantine’s amusement when John realizes being tainted with demon blood has saved him. The sun rises and seals the vampire’s death. Below ground Darius and Mary react empatheticly to the death. Darius leaves Mary to find his dead lover and join him in death. Constantine returns to where Davey died only to find a pair of police officers standing over his body. John’s enraged by their epitaphs and lunges at them, only to be beaten and kicked. (Issue #69) While this story doesn’t contribute directly to Constantine’s bisexuality, it does show his compassion for another person who may not be heterosexual, as some of Davey’s dialog implies.

johnconstantine2It isn’t until Brian Azzarello and Marcelo Frusin’s five-part story in issues #170 – 174 (“Ashes and Dust”) that Constantine’s bisexuality is a topic again.

FBI Agent Frank Turro arrives in Los Angeles to investigate a mysterious death that occurred in an exclusive S & M sex club. Turro is a recurring character that Azzarello introduced to the series in his initial story arc that told of Constantine’s incarceration in a U.S. federal prison.

The corpse in question is John Constantine. Turro persuades LAPD Detective Havlik to bring in the club’s members for questioning. The story of what happened that night slowly begins to take shape from several eyewitness accounts.

In between scenes at the LAPD is a closely connected story involving wealthy industrialist Stanley Manor, or S.W. as he prefers to be called, whose parents died when he was a child. S.W. sees Constantine mysteriously appear in a mirror and summons Father Sean to his estate so he can confess, or so he claims while waxing both pompously and philosophically.

Back at the police station, more puzzle pieces fall into place for Turro. A smug club employee named Graham mentions hating Constantine for his attitude and alludes to whipping a male club member that night but refuses to name the man. Joey, a trans person, tells of being sexually teased by Constantine. Joey also relates a fuller account than Graham. A flashback shows Graham severely beating a man. Another man is seen taking the whip from Graham’s hand. The figure emerges from shadows; it’s Constantine. He approaches the shackled man whose face is shown clearly for the first time: it’s S.W. John leans in to kiss him and a conversation follows. A different witness refers to the pair as boyfriends. Another club patron is “physically persuaded” to give up the other man’s name to Turro, giving the FBI agent a solid lead.

Meanwhile, S.W. recounts to Father Sean a couple of important incidents with John. One of these occasions includes another kiss between the two men, though this time shown in silhouetted profile. S. W. relates that in this particular incident Constantine revealed his power to him. Intrigued, Stanley, as John calls him, allows himself to be shackled. John implicitly uses his magical ability to combine with Stanley’s pain as he flagellates his lover to conjure the ghosts of his dead parents. Their spirits express great disappointment in how their son has turned out as an adult. Stanley has done some horrible things, as Azzarello tells us through the character’s monologue and actions. Stanley’s love for John turns to hate when the Englishman walks away and out of his life, leaving him shackled and at the mercy of his spectral parents’ scorn.

Part five recounts the events in the sex club from S.W.’s point of view. It reveals a grand plan for revenge against Constantine in which S.W. used himself as bait to lure his former boyfriend. Azzarello also tells readers how Constantine burnt to death, but I’m not going to divulge everything here. Back in the story’s present, all hell is breaking loose on S.W.’s estate as events head to a close. A psychologically and emotionally distraught S.W. chooses to elude impending arrest by Turro and shoots himself. Shortly thereafter, Constantine mysteriously appears to survey the aftermath and subsequently vanishes before Detective Havlik and her officers arrive at the scene.

Constantine is based primarily London, but some stories have taken place in other locations. Mostly a loner, Constantine on occasion has been associated with The Trenchcoat Brigade, The Newcastle Crew, The Order of St Oran, and Mucous Membrane. According to the character’s Wikipedia entry, Constantine has a variety of abilities that include but are not limited to: divination, necromancy, demonic summoning, and making illusions.

Constantine has appeared in other media: the 2005 Constantine movie starring Keanu Reeves; a solo TV series on CW that lasted one season followed by a recurring role in the Legends of Tomorrow series; an animated series; the animated Justice League Dark movies. The Justice League Dark: Apokolips War included a short scene that revealed Constantine had been in a relationship with King Shark.

Read the profile for Constantine’s lover Oliver and Tommy Willowtree.

Constantine was created by Alan Moore and first seen in Swamp Thing #37. He was revealed to be bisexual in #51.
Art by John Paul Leon from the first issue cover of John Constantine Hellblazer (2020) and Sean Phillips from Hellblazer #51.

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