46 years ago - John Constantine is born. His twin brother is stillborn & his father blames him.
41 years ago - 5-year-old Constantine's father goes to jail. He goes to live with his aunt.
37 years ago - 9-year-old Constantine begins practicing the occult. He hides his childhood innocence in a box.
29 years ago - 17-year-old Constantine botches a curse, leaving his father a withered husk. He runs away from home.
27 years ago - 29-year-old Constantine moves to London with Francis Chandler & begins to explore various occult groups.
24 years ago - 22-year-old Constantine cuts his hair & starts his band Mucus Membraine.
23 years ago - 23-year-old Constantine's band releases their album 'Venus of the Hardsell'.
21 years ago - 25-year-old Constantine is placed in the Ravenscar Mental Institution after the Newcastle Incident.
18 years ago - 28-year-old Constantine is released from Ravenscar by gangsters that plan to force him to raise their fallen comrade. He cons them all and gets away scott free.
15 years ago - 31-year-old Constantine meets and romances a 17-year-old Zatanna. He joins 4th Shadowpact.
13 years ago - 33-year-old Constantine outwits Felix Faust's attempts to sell his soul in a bargain to gain power.
8 years ago - 38-year-old Constantine contracts lung cancer.
6 years ago - 40-year-old Constantine sells his soul to three different demons in a long con to save his own life. They cure him of his lung cancer rather than share his soul.
John Constantine is easily the most popular character of DC's Vertigo line. Originally invented in the pages of Swamp Thing, he was conceived specifically to create a different set of visual cues to the classic "wizard" character. Rather than being a grizzled old man with a long beard and a robe, he was modern and young, modeled after Police front man Sting, constantly smoking and draped in his signature trench coat. As Vertigo grew into it's own signature corner of the DC universe, Constantine became the central character in the book Hellblazer (a replacement title; the name Hellraiser had already been taken by a certain Clive Barker movie.)
Immediately, John Constantine was like nothing you had seen in comics. He wasn't just cynical, he was genuinely miserable. His humanism and empathy were so badly battered and shriveled from a lifetime of tragedy that he was left with almost no connection left with the rest of humanity.... and yet...
Everyone he had ever loved or cared for was hurt or dead because of something he did. Every time he tried to help someone, he made it worse. He was a magician that barely used magic, who preferred to talk his way out of everything, even to the point when you wondered if he was a hero at all. His constant smoking was almost a deliberate effort to keep everyone away, to exhale a barrier around himself, to insulate himself from a world that he was genuinely sick of... and yet...
And yet he was so smart, and so clever, and so gloriously, fantastically British. He gave voice to all the cocky, smart-ass British writers that had grown up reading black-and-white reprints of Marvel and DC comics and whose singular voice was now slowly dominating the pages of Vertigo. He was dripping with a sick, warped charm that could never be diluted no matter how dark the character's world got. It was a joy to follow this character into the twisted world that was his own life.
Watching Constantine transition into the regular DC universe after the new 52 didn't seem so strange, at first. The new "Justice League Dark" team meant that he could now become a superhero in his own right. But Constantine has no business rubbing elbows with superheroes. He's not a person that TRIES to save the world. The entire direction of the character was completely off. To tell his story correctly, we just need to remember who this sullen bastard is.
One of the weird challenges that stands out with moving Constantine into our timeline is the opposite of almost every other character, because unlike everyone else, John actually aged in real time. He was born in 1953, was actually in a punk band in the early eighties, and was 58 when DC reset the Vertigo timeline in 2011. We didn't need to make him QUITE that old, but even in his later appearances before the Justice League Dark nonsense, there were some weird stories we could just as well leave out, like his marriage to a mob boss's daughter. We tried to include the major plot elements of his larger Vertigo series. Hopefully we can do him justice.