Warning: SPOILERS for The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1
The next age of John Constantine, the Hellblazer has just begun in the DC Universe. And to restart the hero's story, it's taking every single story and version of the hero into account... and that includes Keanu Reeves' portrayal in the 2005 movie Constantine, making it an official part of DC Comics canon. Yes, really.
While the movie released to more than $230 million worldwide, its re-imagining of the hero character took plenty of heat from comic book die-hards. Yet in the decade since its release, the Keanu Reeves Constantine has become a cult favorite, especially among those who have simply accepted it to be a less-than-direct adaptation of the source material (this Hellblazer isn't blonde or British, we get it). That opinion has certainly been helped by the world seeming to collectively realize Keanu Reeves is a role model for humanity, which makes his induction into DC Comics canon cause of celebration, without any equivocation.
Explaining the lore surrounding the return of Constantine in the newly-released The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1 wouldn't be easy, but fortunately Keanu fans don't need to be up to date on the comics to understand this historic moment. To put it simplest, John is shown effectively at the end of the world, ravaged by a magical war, and given the chance to return to a version of his life (and world) still intact. John agrees, and as the magic is triggered, he's instructed to be "the best version of you." At which point he and the reader are thrust into a muddled kaleidoscope of his past incarnations... with one of the group standing out. Take a look:
The unmistakable presence of a younger Keanu Reeves jumps out instantly, right down to a toothpick placed between his lips (the movie ending on the revelation he had given up smoking, having been cured of lung cancer and given a second chance at life). We'll leave it up to the fans to debate the familiar nose and down-turned mouth of Constantine TV actor Matt Ryan above and to the right, but with Keanu there is no debate. Which means writer Si Spurrier and artist Marcio Takara get the credit for confirming Keanu's incarnation is one such "alternate world" or "parallel timeline" witnessed by John himself.
So while we bask in this bit of history and wait for a Constantine/Swamp Thing team-up, interested fans can pick up their own copy of Hellblazer #1. Just in case they need something to throw into the faces of those who will still claim Keanu's Constantine isn't 'comic accurate.'
- THE SANDMAN UNIVERSE PRESENTS HELLBLAZER #1
- Written by: Simon Spurrier
- Art by: Marcio Takara, Cris Peter
- Cover Art by: Bilquis Evely, Mat Lopes
- The second year of the Sandman Universe begins with the long-awaited arrival of one of DC’s most iconic characters…John Constantine, Hellblazer! He’s cheated death and damnation more times than he can count, but never like this. Long ago, in the crucible of a magical war waged across countless futures, Constantine was murdered by an all-powerful adversary: a twisted version of Timothy Hunter, bloated with evil. But over the past year strange forces have conspired to restart Tim Hunter’s tale, and somehow-amid sorcery, insanity and secret agendas-this older, wiser, wilier shade of Constantine has been dragged back with it. Unlike young Tim, John remembers every second of a life that went very, very wrong. Now he must ask himself why he, the last person in the world to deserve a second chance, has been given one. Is John Constantine here to put Tim Hunter on the right track and avert a terrible outcome? Or is it because he’s the only person in existence with the guts to do what REALLY must be done? After all, he’s a nasty piece of work, chief…ask anybody.
- This oversize one-shot sets the stage, and is the perfect jumping-on point, for a new era of Sandman Universe tales beginning in November…and is the official start of the strangest chapter yet in John Constantine’s long life!
The Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer #1 is available now from your local comic book shop. The new story continues in John Constantine, Hellblazer #1 arriving on November 27th, 2019.