Warning: SPOILERS For Wonder Woman #57
The latest issue of Wonder Woman, part of the ongoing "Witching Hour" crossover event, has revealed that John Constantine has lost one of his most powerful magical talents. While this is hardly surprising given the increasing instability of magic in the DC Comics universe, it's still a blow to the efficiency of Justice League Dark.
Created by writer Alan Moore for his now legendary run on Saga of the Swamp Thing, John Constantine is one of the most divisive characters in comic book history. A working-class magician and confidence trickster from Liverpool, "ConJob" prefers relying on his ability to fast-talk people instead of using his magic talents whenever possible, given the price that often comes from using magic. Fans and writers are still divided on the question of just how powerful Constantine's magic truly is and how much of his reputation as one of the most dangerous wizards on Earth is sheer scuttlebutt. Of course John could just as easily be playing the fool in order to stay off the radar of other magicians.
The events of "The Witching Hour" have seen John ally himself with Wonder Woman's new Justice League Dark, as Wonder Woman was exposed as one of five women known as The Witchmarked. Each of The Witchmarked was a conduit for the power of Hecate, the Ancient Greek goddess of magic, whose origins were far older than even those of the Olympian gods. It was also revealed that the current magic used by magicians like John Constantine and Zatanna was tapped in opposition to Hecate's power and came to corrupt the goddess from her original purpose as a being of light and love.
In the midst of a battle with a Wonder Woman now fully given over to the power of Hecate, Zatanna begs John to come up with a solution, however amoral, to the problem at hand. It is then that John coughs-up blood into a handkerchief and reveals that he is just barely managing to hang on. Though John is unsure of precisely why, it seems he's lost the healing powers granted to him by the demon's blood that once ran through his veins. Worse yet, John also seems to have come down with a particularly nasty and untreatable form of cancer.
John's demon-tainted blood is a power that has not come up often in the comics but remains an integral part of John's bag of tricks. John's has possessed this power since Hellblazer #8, where The Demon Negral gave John a transfusion in order to speed John's recovery and buy his cooperation after both of John's legs were broken while fleeing a mob of ghosts. In addition to speeding his healing and making John a bit more durable, his demonic blood also slows his natural aging. The blood also offers John protection from vampire attacks, as the blood of demons burns vampires like acid.
While it is unknown if this complication will remain after the ending of "The Witching Hour", it would be a mistake to think that John Constantine can't recover from this. If John could trick the forces of Hell into saving his life once before, he might manage the trick again or find some other edge to save his life. As the ending of the new issue of Wonder Woman confirms, John Constantine is still not to be underestimated even if he isn't as quick a healer as he used to be.
Wonder Woman #57 is now available from DC Comics.