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JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER

Issues 41-83 plus Hellblazer Special and Vertigo Jam: GARTH ENNIS, incorporating JOHN SMITH

Garth Ennis was just twenty when he began writing Hellblazer. A graduate from the 2000AD school of writing, Belfast-born Ennis had already achieved acclaim for Troubled Souls, the tale of a young Belfast man caught up in the conflict between Irish Republican and Unionist forces. These stories became his calling card when American editors, hoping to capitalise on the success of Alan Moore, began snapping up British and Irish authors for their own comics.

Retiring Hellblazer editor Karen Berger had already commissioned a single issue inventory story from Ennis during Delano's run (this issue was basically issue 42, but without the cancer subplot), and incoming editor Stuart Moore was impressed enough to ask Ennis to pitch for the new series. Ennis' plan for Hellblazer was to drop a lot of the depressing existentialist angst which permeated Delano's work on the title, and give John a little time to unwind. It's odd, then, that he dedided to kick off his run on the book by giving Constantine terminal lung cancer.

This audacious beginning not only worked as a marketing tactic but also as a "crisis point", an emotional climax after which any changes in Constantine's character can be dismissed as the result of trauma. These crisis points occur fairly frequently in Hellblazer, usually at the beginning or end of someone's run, to make it easier for the next author. It also gave Ennis the perfect excuse to introduce some of the major players of his run as John looks for help with his condition. They include: Kit Ryan, John's soon-to-be girlfriend; Charlie Patterson, racist thug and member of The National Front; Gabriel, an archangel; Ellie (AKA Chantinelle), a succubus and Brendan, an alcoholic magus. Most importantly, it introduced The First of The Fallen, the lord of Hell whom John cons into fixing up his cancer.

The First became a recurring enemy for Constantine, providing the series with a level of direction that was previously lacking. Originally, Ennis had wanted to use Lucifer in the role, but Neil Gaiman had co-opted him for The Sandman, and anyway he wasn't the type to be fooled by a mere trickster like John. So Ennis created The First as a more traditional adversary figure, but one just stupid enough to be plausibly outwitted by an extremely cunning human.

Despite the usual nastiness, Ennis made John's life a little easier for the next few issues: he moved the magus in with Kit Ryan, the love of his life, and gathered together a handful of drinking buddies that John could relax with when not "working". The ordinariness of Constantine's social life provided a welcome anchor to the sort of real world interaction that was missing from Delano's run, and allowed for some levity inbetween the dark, visceral horror.

And horror it certainly was; whilst Delano had come up with some pretty gruesome setpieces (a serial killer cutting strips off children with a bayonet, people's mouths and nostrils invaded by swarms of flies, etc.), Ennis went out of his way to create some of the most brutal images seen in a comic to that point: the mutilation and murder of an innocent man is detailed in flesh-ripping detail; a man is tied up before graphically having his genitals blown off with a shotgun; a full-page picture of a man's face after it has been ripped and flayed to rags by racist thugs. Delano's storylines looked like PG-13 material by comparison.

Ennis brought other changes to the comic, too. Whereas Delano had drawn from a wide variety of sources for inspiration, Ennis' run relied almost exclusively on Judeo-Christian mythology for its storylines. Gone were the obscure references to the Tarot arcana and New Age ley lines. Now the storylines revolved around the twin threats of Heaven and Hell, with the occasional ghost story thrown into the mix. Even the allegorical Damnation's Flame storyline takes place in the American branch of Hell. The use of easily identifiable Christian mythology, along with more straightforward action/violence oriented plots, struck a chord with the comic-buying public and under Ennis' command, Hellblazer became the second biggest selling mature readers comic after The Sandman.

This is not to say that Ennis is any less of a writer than Delano, however; what he lacked in subtlety and variety he made up for pitch-perfect plotting, realistic dialogue and peerless characterisation. In fact, despite the OTT storylines it was Constantine's character arc which provided the real meat of Ennis' run. After 26 issues of devious trickery and cold-hearted bastardry, John lets his magical life get too close to Kit. Realising that he will never give up magic for her, Kit takes a stand and leaves him, returning to her family in Belfast. As a result, John sinks into depression and alcoholism down on the streets of London. To see the once-cocky and impossibly cool Constantine reduced to a huddled ball of whiskey-fuelled self-loathing is sobering, and the fact that the storyline continues for several issues gives it even more power.

From here on, Ennis' storylines are almost unremittingly grim. After surviving an attack by The King of the Vampires and getting trapped in the last moments of a long-dead pilot, John finally manages to pick himself up and head off to New York for some rest and relaxation, only to find himself caught in a voodoo trap laid by old enemy Papa Midnite, who sends John's soul into the darkest, most venal parts of America. After a series of grotesque adventures, including an alliance with John F. Kennedy, John finally manages to pull himself together and head back to London, where racial tension has exploded into a fully-fledged riot (inspired by the post-Rodney King LA riots) and The First has discovered a way to claim Constantine's soul. The final storyline is fragmented and bleak, as several plot strands (the First killing John's friends, John trying to take care of an old pal who has become a heroin-addicted prostitute, her pimp looking for revenge, the race riots, a reunion with Kit, The First's origin and a few others) wrap around each other and every backup plan Constantine has built up in the preceding four years comes crashing down around him. The series ends with Constantine victorious, but it is a hollow victory; all he's succeeded in doing is saving his own life at the expense those of his friends.

If there is a complaint to be levelled at Ennis' run on Hellblazer, it's that this final arc seems to arrive slightly too soon, as though he expected another twelve issues to wrap up all the remaining plot threads rather than the six that he got. Whilst the fragmented storytelling style adds to the feeling of everything falling apart for Constantine, it does feel rather like he's cramming too many storylines into too little space, and ignoring some of the dangling plot threads (Ellie's child, the question of what John sold his soul for in Dangerous Habits, the underground vampires) in the hope that nobody will remember. The fact that he continues to introduce more storylines right up until the final arc is a possible hint that he intended to continue much longer than he did. In "And the Crowd Goes Wild", it's revealed that Constantine was once dragged down to Hell but somehow made a deal to be returned to Earth. What was the deal? We'll never know. In the issue after that, "Confessions of an Irish Rebel", John meets up with the ghost of his friend Brendan and recalls the time that he stole a gun named The Ace of Winchesters from Papa Midnite. Neither of these plotlines would appear in Hellblazer again.

Ennis did succeed in wrapping up at least two of his plot threads outside of Hellblazer, however; in his action/comedy comic Hitman, the titular assassin comes into ownership of The Ace of Winchesters before - some issues later - destroying the vampires that Constantine had failed to kill. Exactly what happened to the half-demon half-angel child from Hellblazer remains a mystery. Many readers have suggested that the demon/angel child in Ennis' Preacher is the same creature, but Ennis has publicly denied the rumours, stating that Preacher and Hellblazer exist in completely different universes.

Ennis' run is padded out with a single-issue inventory story by John Smith, writer of Vertigo's Scarab. Smith had been in the running for Ennis' position and editor Steve Moore liked his work that he commissioned "Counting to Ten" from him. A claustrophobic and ambiguous tale of inexplicable horror, it remains possibly the only work of literature to combine zombified elderly women and all-night laundries.

Ennis had two regular artists during his run; the first was William Simpson, who carried the book from its first issue up to the midway point with some delightfully grotesque men and monsters, including the first appearance of The First of the Fallen. Issue 63 saw Ennis' good friend Steve Dillon take over the art chores, and it is interesting to note how the stories move away from misshapen demons and hideous beasts (Dillon's weakest points) and moved to more conversations and human interaction, where Dillon's extraordinary talent for expression allowed him to flourish. He would later go on to co-create the hugely popular Preacher series with Ennis. Tom Canty was the first cover artist for the Ennis run, though his use of Kent Williams-style evocative, exagerrated imagery sat ill at ease with Ennis' gruesome, no-nonsense storytelling. This may have influenced the decision to replace him with Glenn Fabry, whose painted covers were less obscure than his predecessor's. He, too, joined Ennis on Preacher.

AN ISSUE GUIDE

Note: Cameos are appearances of any length by real-life people, mythological creatures, or fictional characters not created for Hellblazer.

41: Dangerous Habits, Part 1: The Beginning of The End (Art: William Simpson, Mark Pennington. Cover: Tom Canty.) For thirty-eight years John Constantine's been one step ahead of the men, women, demons and angels that would see him dead. For thirty-eight years he's been looking over his shoulder for the person who would finally kill him. For thirty-eight years he's been looking in the wrong place. Because John Constantine has lung cancer. And it's terminal.

  • First Appearance: Matt (a terminal cancer patient and new friend of John's).
  • Cameos: Emma (John's ex, dead), Frank North (biker, member of the Newcastle Crew, dead), Benjamin Cox (stuttering geek, member of the Newcastle Crew, dead), Sister Anne-Marie (nun, member of the Newcastle Crew, dead)
  • 42: Dangerous Habits, Part 2: A Drop of the Hard Stuff (Art: William Simpson, Mark Pennington. Cover: Tom Canty.) John turns to the one friend powerful enough, smart enough and alive enough to cure his cancer, an Irish drunkard named Brendan Finn. But Brendan has his own problems, and before the night is up John will be in even worse trouble than he was before.

  • First Appearances: Brendan Finn (John's friend; proud alcoholic), The First of the Fallen (Satan; NOT the same as Lucifer), Kit Ryan (John's friend and Brendan's ex-girlfriend; seen on photograph).
  • 43: Dangerous Habits, Part 3: Friends in High Places (Art: William Simpson, Malcolm Jones III. Cover: Tom Canty.) A desperate Constantine turns to his supernatural contacts for help, but discovers that Heaven won't have him and Hell wants him far too badly.

  • First Appearances: Chantinelle AKA Ellie (John's sometime friend; succubus), Gabriel "The Snob" (angel), Charlie Patterson (neo-Nazi).
  • 44: Dangerous Habits, Part 4: My Way (Art: William Simpson, Tom Sutton. Cover: Tom Canty.) John says fond farewells to his friends and family, but he's far from giving up hope. With the cancer at its final stages, John sets in motion a plan which will either cure his cancer... or rip apart his soul.

  • First Appearances: The Second of the Fallen (demon), The Third of the Fallen (demon).
  • 45: Dangerous Habits, Part 5: The Sting (Art: William Simpson, Tom Sutton. Cover: Tom Canty.) John's plan plays out, but the cure might be even worse than the sickness...

    46: Dangerous Habits, Part 6: Falling Into Hell (Art: William Simpson, Mark Pennington, Mark McKenna, Kim DeMulder and Stan Woch. Cover: Tom Canty.) Realising that he almost allowed Heaven to make a claim on the Earth, John descends into drunken misery. Luckily for him, an old friend is around to perk him back up.

    47: The Pub Where I Was Born (Art: William Simpson, Stan Woch. Cover: Tom Canty.) After getting his life back on track, John is finally starting to unwind - but nasty events at his local pub mean that his quiet time won't last long at all.

  • First Appearances: Laura Collins (barmaid), Freddie Collins (her husband, a ghost), Joe Hollis (psychopath for hire), Martin (Chas' friend), Mick (Chas' friend), Quincy (property tycoon), Carson (crook mastermind), Del Carter (thug), Tony McKay (thug).
  • 48: Love Kills (Art: Mike Hoffman, Stan Woch. Cover: Tom Canty.) Two vengeful spirits are killing people all over the city. Can John talk them down before their hatred destroys them both forever?

  • First Appearance: Lenny Fisher (informant).
  • 49: The Lord of the Dance (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Tom Canty.) John Constantine's having a far-from-merry Christmas; he can't find a present to tell Kit how much she means to him, and now he's being stalked by a ghost.

  • First Appearance: The Lord of the Dance (god of merriment and drinking).
  • 50: Remarkable Lives (Art: William Simpson. Cover: Tom Canty.) John and Kit have finally got together, but the course of true love never runs smoothly - especially when The King of the Vampires is in town, hoping to recruit John as an informant!

  • First Appearances: The King of the Vampires (er, well... he's The King of the Vampires, innee?).
  • Cameo: Adam (the first man).
  • Backup: A three-page preview of Tom Vietch and John Ridgway's "My Name is Chaos")
  • 51: Counting to Ten BY JOHN SMITH (Art: Sean Philips. Cover: Sean Philips.) Constantine can't even do his laundry without stumbling on supernatural nastiness; this time, he finds himself trapped in a nightmarish paranormal event at the local laundromat.

    52: Royal Blood, Part 1: The Players (Art: William Simpson. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) An amnesiac psychopath is stalking the streets of London, mutilating, killing and eating his victims. But what is his connection to the Caligula Club?

  • First Appearances: Calibraxis (demon; Lord of the Blades), Sir Peter Marston (aristocrat, fixer for big business).
  • Cameos: Prince Charles, Prince Andrew (never stated outright to avoid hideous legal repurcussions)
  • 53: Royal Blood, Part 2: Revelations (Art: William Simpson. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Constantine's investigation into the murders turns up a supernatural cause, so he employs the talents of gifted psychic Nigel Archer to summon and trap the culprit.

  • First Appearances: David Hezlet (Scots Guard Lieutenant), Holly Elliot (aristocrat), Hugh Elliot (Holly's brother and possible lover), Nigel Archer (psychic, "radical" journalist, vocal socialist).
  • Cameos: Prince Charles, Prince Andrew (never stated outright to avoid hideous legal repurcussions}.
  • 54: Royal Blood, Part 3: The Good Old Days (Art: William Simpson. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Prince Charles has been possessed by Calibraxis, Lord of the Blades, and the only way to free him of the demon's control lies within the Caligula Club - but Calibraxis will stop Constantine at any cost.

  • Cameos: Prince Charles, Prince Andrew (never stated outright to avoid hideous legal repurcussions), Prince Albert (grandson of Queen Victoria), Annie Crook (alleged lover of Albert), Dr. William Gull (AKA Jack the Ripper, former slave of Calibraxis)
  • 55: Royal Blood, Part 4: Dog Eat Dog (Art: William Simpson. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Charles has finally been captured, but who is really responsible for his possession - and will Constantine live long enough to find out?

  • Cameos: Prince Charles, Prince Andrew (never stated outright to avoid hideous legal repurcussions), Dr. William Gull (AKA Jack the Ripper, former slave of Calibraxis)
  • 56: This is the Diary of Danny Drake (Art: David Lloyd. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Danny Drake is being haunted - by his diary! John Constantine looks deeper into Danny's past, and discovers some very disquieting truths...

  • First Appearances: Triskelle (demon; Wyrm Queen).
  • 57: Mortal Clay (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Modern-day graverobbers carry off Chas' dead uncle. John decides to find out what they're up to, but finds himself lumbered with a sidekick when Chas comes along for the ride.

  • First Appearances: Gerry Connolly (dead; victim of grave robbers), Dr. Amis (director of Stokesley Research Centre), Warren (scientist).
  • 58: Body and Soul (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Held captive by the sadistic Dr. Amis, John and Chas prepare to face the firing squad. Luckily, an undead messenger holds the key to their escape.

    59: Guys and Dolls, Part 1: Fallen Women (Art: William Simpson, Mike Barreiro and Kim DeMulder. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Ellie makes a daring escape after The First of The Fallen discovers her connection with John Constantine, but how long can she hide from the Lord of Darkness?

  • Cameo: Lucifer (fallen angel).
  • 60: Guys and Dolls, Part 2: Nativity Infernal (Art: William Simpson, Mike Barreiro and Kim DeMulder. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) As John shelters Ellie, she recalls their first meeting and the terrible events that followed.

  • First Appearance: Tali (angel; Ellie's lover).
  • Cameo: John Major (former British Prime Minister).
  • 61: Guys and Dolls, Part 3: She's Buying a Stairway to Heaven (Art: William Simpson, Mike Barreiro. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) The First of the Fallen and Triskelle close in on Ellie, but Constantine's got a plan...

    62: End of the Line (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Double trouble for John; not only is his niece exploring magic, but there's a zombie who wants to talk to him. Magicians past, present and future converge as John comes to terms with the fact that he'll be the last Constantine.

  • First Appearances: Harry Constantine (ancestor of John's, magically kept alive), Robbie Brooks (wannabe magus).
  • Backup: "Death Talks About Life", an eight-page AIDS awareness insert by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean)
  • 63: Forty (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) After decades of ducking and diving, Constantine has to face his biggest fear of all: middle age. Luckily for him, he's got some good friends to throw him a party.

  • First Appearances: Janine (off-licence owner), Header (Scottish thug; friend of Constantine's), Reverend Richard Nielsen (AKA Rick the Vic; friend of Constantine's), Mange (a man trapped in the body of a grumpy bunny; friend of Constantine's).
  • Cameos: The Phantom Stranger (mysterious associate of Constantine's), Zatanna (female magician), The Swamp Thing (an Earth elemental and unwilling associate of John's)
  • 64: Fear and Loathing, Part 1: For God and Country (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Constantine gets Gabriel in his sights and sets his master plan in motion, unaware that he'll bring the wrath of a racist organisation down on Kit's head.

  • First Appearance: Julie (Gabriel's lover), Dez Ridley (old friend of John's), George Ridley (Dez's hot-tempered brother).
  • Cameo: Mary (mother of God).
  • 65: Fear and Loathing, Part 2: London Kills Me (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) As Gabriel and Julie grow closer, Kit finds herself fending off a pair of neo-Nazi thugs. When she proves too much to handle, Nazi ringleader Charlie Patterson sends his gang after John himself.

    66: Fear and Loathing, Part 3: Down to Earth (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Held prisoner by Charlie and his scum, John can only watch as another friend dies. Can George find him in time, and will he bother to help if he does? And what of Gabriel..?

    67: Dear John... (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) John Constantine's leapt through the jaws of Hell, given the finger to the Devil and even survived terminal cancer, but nothing could prepare him for this...

    68: Down All the Days (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Drunk and derelict on the streets of London, Constantine drowns his sorrows in cheap alcohol unaware that The King of the Vampires is stalking the city's streets once more.

  • First Appearances: Darius (a vampire), Mary (a vampire), Davy (a rent-boy).
  • 69: Rough Trade (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) The King of the Vampires has found Constantine and is taking his sweet time before going in for the kill. Can Constantine pull himself together before the King pulls him apart?

  • First Appearances: Lance Corporal William Constantine (John's great-grandfather, a victim of The King of the Vampires).
  • Cameo: Adam (the first man).
  • Vertigo Jam Hellblazer Story: Tainted Love (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) John tells another homeless man a dark tale of infidelity and shapeshifters.

    Hellblazer Special: Confessional (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Set before John's fall from grace: an insane, paedophilic priest and our favourite conman are forced into meeting by The First of the Fallen.

  • First Appearance: Father Tolly (lunatic priest... now there's a name for a band).
  • Backup: A ten-page Hellblazer gallery featuring art by Glenn Fabry, Steve Pugh, Richard Case, William Simpson, Jill Thompson, Glyn Dillon, Charles Vess, Gary Erskine, David Lloyd and Phil Winslade.)
  • 70: Heartland (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) As John wallows in drunken self-pity, Kit returns to Belfast and tries to adjust to a life without him.

  • First Appearances: Claire Ryan (Kit's younger sister), Peter Ryan (Claire's twin brother), Neil (not-so-secretly in "love" with Kit), Ann (Claire's friend), Sean (Ann's husband).
  • 71: Finest Hour (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) John finds himself trapped in the death of an RAF pilot shot down decades before; can he pull himself out before he's killed too? And what will he do with his life once he gets it back?

    72: Damnation's Flame, Part 1: Brave New World (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Having finally dragged himself out of the gutter, Constantine's jetted off to New York for some rest and relaxation. Old grudges die hard, though, and an old enemy is about to send John on a trip through the United States' dark shadow.

  • First Appearances: Zeerke (low-level criminal; associate of Papa Midnite), Peter (barman), The Moon Child (manifestation of Hell), Private Brown (manifestation of Hell), The One Last Tribe (lost souls of Nativa Americans).
  • Cameo: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (former president of the USA).
  • 73: Damnation's Flame, Part 2: Broadway the Hard Way (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) John's soul takes a trip through the Altered States of America, where he falls victim to cannibals and finds an unlikely ally in a very dead president

  • Cameo: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (former president of the USA).
  • 74: Damnation's Flame, Part 3: Trail of Tears (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) The two Johns, Constantine and Kennedy, continue their quest to restore the Throne of America, whilst Constantine's physical body lies at the mercy of a gang of thugs.

  • First Appearances: Murray (thug), Rickles (thug), Russ (thug).
  • Cameo: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (former president of the USA).
  • 75: Damnation's Flame, Part 4: Hail to the Chief/Act of Union (Art: Steve Dillon, William Simpson. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) His physical body's about to be burnt to ash and his astral body's stuck in a sliver of Hell, but things get even worse for Constantine when he has to face The One Last Tribe. And who truly sits on the Throne of America?

  • Cameo: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (former president of the USA).
  • Backup: "Act of Union", a fourteen page backup story revealing John and Kit's first meeting at Brendan's.
  • 76: Confessions of an Irish Rebel (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) On his way back from New York, John stops off for a pint or two in Dublin and picks up a long-dead drinking partner in the form of Brendan.

    77: And the Crowd Goes Wild (Art: Peter Snejbjerg. Cover: John Totleben.) Chas tells his drinking buddies the strange tale of the time John was dragged down to Hell by a psychopath's spirit - and returned in time for his own funeral! Features cameos by the Ennis cast plus Emma, Ray Monde and Richie Simpson.

  • Cameo: Emma (John's ex-girlfriend)
  • 78: Rake at the Gates of Hell, Part 1 (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) The End is Nigh. The First of the Fallen has recieved a tip-off by Astra, a girl John accidentally damned to Hell decades before, telling him how to break the deadlock between himself and his brothers, thus allowing him to destroy Constantine once and for all. Constantine, meanwhile, makes a raid on the Caligula Club with Header, siezing several arcane pages then finds himself drawn to an old friend who has been drawn into a life of prostitution. George Ridley recieves an unexpected call from racist police officers, resulting in two deaths.

  • First Appearances: Sarah (a one-night stand that never went away), Lucy (Sarah's sister, a nurse), Helen (old friend of Constantine's, a prostitute), Phil (Helen's pimp), Detective Constable Kenfield (police officer).
  • 79: Rake at the Gates of Hell, Part 2 (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Helen's suffering withdrawls and her pimp's closing in, but Constantine has other things on his mind - like keeping Gabriel's heart safe as a bargaining tool. Racial tensions continue to rise in Tower Hamlets as the police begin their search for George. The First of the Fallen destroys his supposed brothers, but doesn't see Astra form a blade from their remains, nor does he hear her ominous threat...

  • First Appearance: Jo (Helen's friend, a nurse).
  • 80: Rake at the Gates of Hell, Part 3 (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) The First of the Fallen begins cutting down Constantine's allies one by one as he searches for Gabriel's heart. Constantine tries to give some advice to George, but it falls on deaf ears. Sarah is raped and beaten by Phil, but Chas intervenes before he can kill her. Tower Hamlets explodes into violence.

  • First Appearance: Betsy (Rick's girlfriend).
  • 81: Rake at the Gates of Hell, Part 4 (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) On Constantine's order, Phil is given a good going over by two gangster associates of Chas'. With Gabriel dead, Constantine has no recourse but to hide in a local church, surrounded by sigils to hide him from The First. As Tower Hamlets burns, George watches his friends and family die.

    82: Rake at the Gates of Hell, Part 5 (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) Kit returns to say a real goodbye to Constantine, but is it just a dream? John makes a mad dash into the Tower Hamlets, still burning after two days' constant rioting, only to find Nigel dead and The First waiting for him.

    83: Rake at the Gates of Hell, Part 6: The End (Art: Steve Dillon. Cover: Glenn Fabry.) The First returns Constantine's cancer. As the conman dies, the devil explains his origins and plans, unaware that John still has one wildcard left to play.

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