John Constantine is a royal bastard and sometime hero of the DC Comics universe. First introduced by Alan Moore in Swamp Thing, he later got his own book, Hellblazer. He's appeared in a few other Vertigo titles, notably Neil Gaiman's Sandman and The Books of Magic.

Constantine is an odd character -- a powerful magus from an English working class background, and with the appropriate sympathies for Labour and lager. He specializes in summoning demons, and he has an unfortunate history of getting his old friends killed by said demons. He wavers between the hero and the antihero in more or less every issue.

Most of the time, both Heaven and Hell are rather extremely pissed off at Constantine, and most of the time neither one can do bugger all about it.

He's also a member of the occasionally convened Trenchcoat Brigade, along with the mysterious Phantom Stranger, the mysterious Dr. Occult, and the mysterious Mr. E. They generally get together when there's some world-threatening occult menace, and go solve it with less use of actual magic and more wise-cracking from Constantine and subtle hints from the Stranger about how massively powerful he is. Interesting chemistry to say the least.

So the story goes, Moore created Constantine for two artists he worked with on Saga of the Swamp Thing. They were fans of the Police and wanted to draw someone who looked like Sting as part of the comic. The machiavellian magus with a working class background proved too cool to throw away and the character eventually landed his own series.

His genesis is given a wink by the later revelation that during his youth Constantine had been the leader of Mucous Membrane, a New Wave band.

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