As of the New 52 erasing the unbroken runs of both the august Detective Comics and Action Comics, DC Vertigo’s flagship title, Hellblazer, starring trenchcoated mystic and original Swamp Thing supporting character John Constantine, was the company’s longest-running continuously active title.
Well, no more. Hellblazer issue 300, due February 2013, will be the last outing for the original hard-drinking, snarling sorceror/conman, to be replaced by a more PG-13 New 52 title, Constantine, depicting the younger character depicted in Justice League Dark.
At the risk of turning into everyone else on the internet, Jamie Delano and Richard Piers Rayner’s Hellblazer issue 11 and 12 (collected in the first graphic novel Original Sins), where John returns to Newcastle to confront his literal and proverbial demons, wasn’t the first comic-book I ever read, but it was definitely the moment when I became aware of the sheer storytelling power of the medium.
I loved the idea of superheroes, and the stylised worlds and ideas they represented, but those early Hellblazer issues – and later ones too, the recent run with Peter Milligan and artist Simon Bisley is a definite renaissance for the title – seemed so dark and real and earthy, like the world they depicted was just in the corner of my eye.
Former Hellblazer writers and artists shared their thoughts on Twitter: