One of the flagship titles of Vertigo
since DC Comics launched the mature readers imprint in 1993, Hellblazer,
the monthly series starring the cantankerous, chain-smoking, yet eminently charming mage and occult detective John Constantine
has received immense critical success throughout its history. Now, after a 25-year-run that has featured contributions from some of the most highly-respected talent in the comics industry, DC Comics have announced the title will end with February's issue #300
will be replaced by Constantine,
a new monthly series set in the DC superhero universe, written by Robert Venditti with art by Renato Guedes.
Venditti is perhaps best known in comics circles for his work on The Surrogates
and The Homeland Directive
for Top Shelf.
He likened the challenge of writing a new chapter in the history of the fan-favorite Constantine to his work on the recently relaunched X-O Manowar
for Valiant, telling the AP
"The mission is very much the same. While I'm aware of all the rich history, I can't look at it from `How am I going to compete with that?' I am going to come to the book and tell the best stories that I can."
John Constantine was originally created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben and Rick Veitch in the pages of Moore's legendary run on Swamp Thing, with Hellblazer initially launching in 1988 before moving over to Vertigo in '93. Over the last two and a half decades, the list of creators to work on the spinoff series is one of most impressive in recent comics history: Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Brian Azzarello, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Denise Mina, Mike Carey, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Andy Diggle, John Ridgway, David Lloyd, Steve Dillon, Richard Corben, Dave McKean, Eddie Campbell, Sean Phillips, Bryan Talbot, Glenn Fabry, Sean Murphy, Lee Bermejo, Simon Bisley, Philip Bond, Cameron Stewart and others. Peter Milligan has penned the title since issue #251, and will take the book all the way to its February finale, to be drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli.
Set primarily in London, Hellblazer stories were often centered around political commentary and satire of topics relevant to the city, a trend started by original series writer Delano. It's been said that his final script was turned in the week embattled former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher left office.
Interestingly, publishing practices like the recent New 52 and Marvel NOW initiatives from DC and Marvel, respectively, have necessitated relaunches of nearly all their series from issue #1 at some point or another. This has left Hellblazer as the longest running, uninterrupted monthly series from either publisher. As of next March, neither Marvel nor DC will have a single title numbered even as high as issue #50.