June 1, 1985. Alan Moore gives us John Constantine (in Swamp Thing)
Please excuse the lack of editing of this post. It was originally just notes for myself, but now I would like to concentrate on Hellblazer. I may refer to these notes in my reviews but I decided to post them for all to see so they can catch up. Once again all full recaps are available on the websites I linked to in my original Hellblazer #1 post.
The first few issues really intwine with the first issue of Hellblazer and give some backstory. These notes will also be referenced when I write up my reviews for Constantine the TV series (certainly the focus on Crisis)
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 37 June 1, 1985
While not the first image of John, it is the introduction to him.
Day 4 into the Swamp Things rebirth. John is in England at at bar/rave/psychedelic club (as indicated by the swirling techno colors surrounding him) He’s talking to Judith (first appearance). She having bad dreams and tell John that he know “He’s coming back”.
Day 5 – John comes to America. He visits Benjamin Cox, in Wisconsin (an occultist who lives with his mother). Ben is depicted here as very bad stutterer that is somewhat overweight. he feels that “he” (as in who’s returning) is Cthulu.
Day 8 – John visits with an sister Anne-Marie (in Washington). Anne – Marie is a crotchy faced over women, of heavy weight as well. She feels that “he” is simply Satan (how that name changes throughout the years). Judith, Ben and the sister all agree that “he” will “return” in about 12 months.
Day 11 – John wakes up in the room with a young lady (Emma), in NY who is painting a crude picture of a wasting figure running.
(a comment about Newcastle is made) Emma has red hair and is slim, depicted as pretty.
Day 13- John makes his way to Louisiana and ends up in the backseat of Abby Cable’s (Swamp Things gal) car. He introduces himself to Swamp Thing after threatening Abby with telling her work that she sleeps outside with Swamp Thing?? (brit colloquiums are confusing). “I’m a nasty piece of work” – Great J.C line
He seems to know a great deal of Plant Elementals (of which Swamp Thing is the last) and tries to educate Swamp Thing.
John does not have the patience to continue and leaves while Swamp Thing shouts after him.
while all this is happening Emma’s drawing of the emaciated figure disappears from the page on the easel and appears as a grotesquely copreal figure apparently to harm to all of the people that John has previously visited.
Emma is thrown/jumps out the window of her NY apartment. ( there is a very apparent likeness to Alan Moore in the frame of the city corner top left) Ben has epileptic – esque fit and Anne-marie tears the head off of a childs doll, but both return to normal as the the creature returns to the page.
I initially thought that the writing in this issue was quite plain, very much a set up issue. However that was before I read a review that made me look at the back and forth between the words on the page and the visuals as they relay a certain ambiance. That’s the problem with reviewing a book/taking notes as one reads something.
the artwork is of a bygone age, I can’t explain it.
Saga of the Swamp Thing #38 July 1985
Constantine, still dressed in his blue suit with his trench coat over his shoulders sits at a bar in Rosewood, Illinois. His friend Frank stands next to him (wearing a blue “gay biker cap?” and t-shirt and leather vest (Gay, most likely but no it’s later mentioned that frank is in an ‘open relationship with one of John’s friends Cheryl.). Frank tells John about Emma’s death, telling him that the news is that it was a suicide (John doesn’t buy it)
Frank offers to take John back to LA with him. Frank mention Cheryl (who we would later know to be his Johns older sister? in later issue (49) it doesn’t sound like sister Cheryl but maybe?? retcon). A disheveled man starts in on John, calling him a “fruit loop” Frank pleads with John to let enough alone, but when John crushes his glass in his hand and the the man glances at Johns bleeding hand he himself walks away.
John meets up with Swamp Thing, telling him about the darkness that is coming and certain elements of Swamp Things past are catching up to him, including some dark things in Rosewood.
Swamp Thing wants information on his identity and being. John says to help eradicate the evil that has arrived and he’ll tell him what he wants to know.
The great thing about this issue is how it shows Constantine as a confidence man. He looks like he has everything under control but when backs are turned he ‘exhales’ and admits that he’s over his head. Magic (as it’s later talked about in Hellblazer, is really about what people believe it is) this is where Johns history of simply being a con man with a little extra hidden in his sleeve begins.
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 39 August 1985
(still in Rosewood, Illinois America) present day ‘85
Swamp Thing does his thing but according to John he botched the job and therefore will not tell Swamp Things anything he wants to know, but does claim that Swamp Things growing abilities are thanks to him. John tells Swamp Things that somethings are behind all the horrors that are happening and he will see him Kennescook, Maine in two weeks time. Swamp Thing declares that he does not, in fact, like John Constantine.
Swamp Thing #40 Sept. 1985
Swamp Thing has dealt with a werewolf ordeal and at the end of the issue John meets up with Swamp Thing to deliver a piece of paper with their next destination. Swamp Thing says he will not go, he wants to return to Louisiana. John says okay and walks away flicking his cigarette to the ground. Swamp Thing looks at the piece of paper; it has Louisiana wrttien on it.
Saga of the Swamp Thing #44
(this issue takes place between issues 2-4 of Crisis on Infinite Earths)
(Abby is reading clive Barker’s books of blood, which by this time all volumes would have been published. obviously Alan Moore or Bissete were fans)
John is in a bar with Mento (of Doom Patrol) they are discussing Crisis and they run into batman.
Saga of the Swamp Thing #45 Feb. 1986
Swap Thing once again meets up with John towards the end of the issues, still pleading for answers. John introduces Swamp Thing to both Ben Cox and Frank North telling (sister Anne-Marie has gone to find their london operative – Judith?). They all will be helping in the “final stages”
(new title – swamp thing)
Swamp Thing #46
This issue takes place before crisis #5 and happens before issue 4.
There is apparently a key death in this issue as well as the answer to the question of balancing good and evil in the universe.
John tell Frank that he will be needed on the last leg so to go back to LA and give Cheryl a kiss.
John transports Swamp Thing to Monitors satalite where a host of costumes hero are (ambush bug included)
The Phantom Stranger makes mention that he though John died at Newcastle (last Winter)
So if Johns introduction was June of ’85 and this issue takes place in real time 9 months later. Newcastle happened at the tail end of 84 or just at the beginning of 85. He says the “kiddie died in the exorcism, he spent a few weeks in the looney bin.”
John mentions the Brujeria as a secret society of male witches that have existed for centuries in the forests of Patagonia, at the southernmost tip of South America. Their central committee lives in Chiloe. They’re called the council of the cave.
The Invunche is the Guardian of the Cave. John mentions that a few months ago (8/9) a Invunche killed Emma. He describes how they disjoint a newborn … John Cries at both this discription and the death of Emma. These Brujeria knew the Crisis was coming and used it do create chaos. By increasing this darkness they are increasing the power of the physic power and plan on ‘bringing something back” when it pops.(the He that has been talked about since issue 37) They plan on destroying heaven!!!
They make their way first to Brazil (the parliament of trees) and then they will head to Paragonia (mentioned in Hellblazer #1)
— This issue is in fact in real time.. Sister Anne-Marie has been in London for two weeks searching of Judith. in one panel there is a poster for midnight movies January : Jubilee, Feb Eraserhead and March is / will be Living dead marathon)
Sister Anne-Marie is killed by an invunche.
The Phantom Stranger makes reference to the Newcastle exorcism from “last winter”. John comments that he was in a “loony bin for a few weeks”. The details behind the Newcastle exorcism were chronicled in Hellblazer #11, albeit with some retconning. The exorcism actually took place in 1978, not the previous winter, and John spent two years at the Ravenscar Secure Hospital as a result of it, as opposed to the few weeks referenced in this issue.——
Swamp Thing #47 April ‘86
John brings Swamp Thing to the Parliament of Trees.
John makes mention of the Newcastle ‘team” Frank, Ben, Sister Anne-Marie (was Gary Lester & Ritchie retconned?)
Swamp Thing #48 May ‘86
Frank, Judith and John head to the cave with Swamp Thing
John connect the smell of the cave with a memory of his last time in prison (with a bloke who raped and tortured old women)
john is attacked by an Invunche. Frank and Judith go deeper into the cave and Judith (goes down on?) frank much to his surprise and enjoyment.
John is captured by the Brujeria and finds that Judith has turned sides. She killed both Ben and his mother and has in fact killed Frank. the Brujeria have promised her a place in the Cabal and the ability to turn into a bird, entrusting her to a ‘sacred mission’
John is drowning in sacrificial waters while the grand master turns Judith into a bird (from her head, cool and gross). Swamp Thing enters the picture and John is trying to get him to stop the transformation as bird Judith will be a messenger of darkness. swamp thing saves John and lets Bird-Judith escape.
Swamp Thing #49 June ‘86
John realizes that the pearl that bird-judith has flown away with is the encapsulation of humanities fear and will grow into something unnamed.
they split up
-Georgetown, Washington DC
New character introduced – Baron Winters (like a DC Doctor Strange apparently)
again the ‘mess in Newcastle’ is mentioned (at what point did Alan Moore’ know that his creation would have his own series? did he have this whole backstory in place?)
Sargon is also mentioned (he’s a good guy, in the new 52 isn’t he bad?) (DC had a sorcerer group pre-dating John)
This is the point at which I realize /remember that pre-Vertigo John Constantine (and swamp Thing) were still actually part of the actual DC universe. This issue has Spectre, Dr. Occult, Phantom Stranger) and Zantana (they had a tantric studies group together)
The whole magic DC is in this issue.
Swamp Thing #50 (Anniversary Issue)
In Ten issues since he was introduced issue 49 and 50 are the only ones we’ve seen Constantine do any magic of any sort. It’s all been about the knowledge with him. How great is that.
People dies in this issue and one goes crazy.
The content is quite dark but the imagery doesn’t necessarily relate that. John seems to be bothered by the fact that the effort was a draw between good and evil but the way he’s drawn it’s quite comical as is the way Mento is when driven completely mad.
Swamp Thing #52 August ‘86
Swamp Thing and Constantine say their goodbyes
John tells Swamp Thing that he just a normal guy there is nothing special about him. he has an image to keep. He quietly laments his fallen comrades.
He leaves with a joke (how to leave a veggie baffled ) and leaves lol
Swamp Thing #55 December ‘86
Swamp Thing is apparently dead and John Constantine (among others) pay there respects
Swamp Thing #56 Jan ‘87
He’s an allusion in Swamp Things imagination/dead journey.
Swamp Thing #62
as a vision
Swamp Thing #65 Oct ‘87
(Hellblazer will debut Jan ’88 It seems that these few issues will lead right into issue #1)
Hellblazer #1 events seem to occur somewhere after this issue and after his return from Gotham City. One must presume that the Gotham City adventure (of finding a new elemental) doesn’t necessarily take place in the “real time” that Hellblazer adopts.
Abby Holland is having hallucinations about Alec (Swamp Thing) she hears a voice describing breakfast and she reaches into a yellow void thinking the voice belongs to Alec she pulls the figure to her and embraces/kisses it; it turns out to be John who says “ i’m a stickler for safe sex these days”
John tries to recruit Swamp Thing for another “doomsday – esque” mission. But Swamp thing wants nothing to do with it. After insulting Abby (and her throwing her coffee into his face) Swamp Thing commands tiny flora to grow uncomfortably in John’s bowels putting him to his knees. Swamp Thing tells him he is finished as Earth’s elemental and disappears. John gets to his feet, cuts and bags a piece of Swamp Things … eh … sweet potatoes?)
Swamp Thing #66 November ‘87
John pays a vist to Woodrue (the floronic man) in Arkham Asylum and gives him the piece off of Swamp Thing so he can be reconnected to the “Green”, in return Woodrue will tell John all that he sees. John is captured by the guards and comes face to face with (now Dr.) Roger Piggy Huntoon. Hunter places John in a straight jacket. They went to school, where John picked on him just like everyone else did. 15 years ago John slept with a woman Diane who Roger worshiped. Another mention of Newcastle (now it’s alluded to that it was a decade ago (retconed twice?) John picks at the scabs that he created with Roger until Batman crashes through the window fighting with Killer Croc. John escapes.
Swamp Thing #67 December ‘87
still in Gotham City
John tries to pawn a video surveillance tape of the incident at Arkam with Woodrue (reference made to the ’82 movie swamp Thing as if it’s a sequel (with didn’t come out for another two years).
John chats with Swamp Thing about his responsibilities to the green and parliament of trees.
John says it’s time to return home to London; to see how much the roaches have invades …. little does he know.
John Constantines next appearance in Swamp Thing is issue #70
still in Gotham I presume these events seem to continue from Johns last appearance, so I imagine these events occur just before John returns home for Hellblazer #1
this an issue chock full of John meeting with various people
John meets up with Carl, mystic scientist?, Star (a mystic gardener?), and Ming, an acupuncturist. She makes mention that John may not make it to age 40 (which again places his time line in real time)
John meets with a shaman who trades in cigarettes, he paints a picture of Abby and calls her Arcane.
John runs into Roger again and trades a possible “meet/hook up” with Diane for a location on some superheroes.
John meets up with Brenda a native american women who is gotham Coroner. She thinks he wants to have sex with her but he wants her to do some Magik that involves dead man entrails. He needs info about a possible plane crashes. Her price is .. sex in the morgue.
John meets with Freddy, a geomancer.
John goes to see a medium, Jane Day who’s is holding a seminar at a Holiday Inn. He requests her to summon a druid by the name of Blackbriar Thorn (who has “been hanging around Gotham Park ever since Superman and Batman put the beat on him”). the spirit is reluctant but since John is holding a “consecrated coptic crucifix” it appears. The spirit that comes forth has yet another striking resemblance to Alan Moore.
Swamp Thing vol. 2 # 71 April, 1988
John tries to foil a plane crash but Swamp thing mucks it up. John “in this business all of us are guilty”
Swamp Thing vol. 2 #72 May, 1988
Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #73 June, 1988
Swamp Thing Vol. 3 #74 July, 1988