Tonight’s all new episode of Constantine, “Waiting for the Man,” is frightening, atmospheric and downright emotional at times, but it’s noteworthy for a few other reasons as well. First, it shares a title and some story aspects with Jamie Delano and John Ridgway’s HELLBLAZER #4, a classic early issue of the comic that’s famous for the shockingly high number of Hellblazer icons it introduced—including Zed and the Resurrection Crusade (who have been big parts of the show) as well as John’s niece Gemma Masters (who hasn’t…yet). And second, it’s the final episode of the season.
So what should Constantine fans do as they wait for news on a second season and new episodes? Well, that’s simple. They should go back to the comics.
It’s easy to forget that so many of the elements that have made recent episodes so entertaining are drawn directly from the books. Curious about the brujeria and that freaky Invunche? Those are from Swamp Thing. Want to know what happens with Zed and the Resurrection Crusade? You can learn that in Hellblazer. Intrigued by Detective Jim Corrigan? He has a new series of his own. And as for Constantine himself, well, his stories are just getting started.
Swamp Thing: The Rising Darkness and a Whole Lot More
As you likely know, John Constantine made his very first appearance in Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING #37. But the Swamp Thing contributions don’t end there. The whole rising darkness storyline, and many of its components were drawn from the world of Alec Holland. In fact, if you’re looking to read the comic from which much of Constantine Season 1 is drawn, then it’s not actually Hellblazer or Constantine you want, it’s Swamp Thing.
Frankly, if you’re at all interested in comic books, Alan Moore’s entire run on Swamp Thing is essential reading. However, if you want to jump right to John Constantine, then issue #37 is where to start. If you read your comics digitally, you can download the individual issues. But if you prefer print, then you’ll probably want to look to the collections. John Constantine’s story is in SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING BOOK THREE.
Hellblazer: Zed’s Crusade
If you’ve never read Hellblazer, one thing you may be shocked to learn is that Zed isn’t a big part of it. She’s a recurring character who makes a big impression early on, but after that her appearances taper off. (She’s also shaves her head and looks entirely different than she does on the show, but that’s neither here nor there.)
While this may be disappointing to hear if you’re a fan of Angelica Celaya’s feisty psychic, what it means is that you don’t have to commit to 300 issues of Hellblazer to read Zed’s story. As we mentioned at the start, she’s first introduced in Hellblazer #4 and the Resurrection Crusade storyline wraps up in HELLBLAZER #10 (though Zed does make appearances in later issues). Again, you can download all the relevant issues digitally, but if you like print, you’re going to need to pick up two volumes for the complete story: HELLBLAZER VOL. 1: ORIGINAL SINS and HELLBLAZER VOL. 2: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW.
Actually, quite a lot of Constantine Season 1 can be found in these two volumes. They also feature the Gary Lester hunger demon story (which was adapted into the Constantine episode, “A Feast of Friends”), the introduction of Papa Midnite, the ultimate fate of Ritchie Simpson and the story behind what exactly happened in Newcastle. Trust us, whatever you think happened in Newcastle, the truth is FAR worse…
Gotham by Midnight: Corrigan’s Tale of Terror
One character who you won’t find in the first two volumes of Hellblazer is Detective Jim Corrigan, though he’s certainly been around for a while. Along with being a cop, Corrigan is the human host of the Spectre, heaven’s very own Spirit of Vengeance. Considering he was first introduced in 1940, there are plenty of Spectre comics and storylines out there. But if you’re looking for one that builds on the same sort of demonic, supernatural dread that you find on Constantine, you really should go with Gotham by Midnight, a new series written by Ray Fawkes and drawn by Ben Templesmith.
Gotham by Midnight focuses on a division of the GCPD let by Jim Corrigan that specializes in supernatural threats. But one of the best things about Gotham by Midnight if you’re new to all of this comic book stuff is that it’s just beginning. There are only three issues out so far, but all three of them have been solid works of edge-of-your-seat horror that hit the same dark note that Constantine hits week after week (unsurprisingly, the Constantine writing staff are fans).
There won’t be a trade collection for this one for a little while, but you can download the first three issues digitally or grab them from your nearest comic shop.
Constantine: The Hellblazer: The Future of Fear
We’ve been looking at current Constantine storylines, but what about John’s potential future? With the exception of Gotham by Midnight, all of the comics we’ve suggested so far are from the first few years of the character, but considering Hellblazer is the longest running series in Vertigo’s history, there’s a LOT more where that came from.
All of Hellblazer is available digitally, and some of the most beloved storylines are available in new collected editions. If you want to know where the show may go in future seasons (yes, we said future seasons—we’re being optimistic!), you could do far worse than looking at where the series went after the Resurrection Crusade story. HELLBLAZER VOL. 5: DANGEROUS HABITS is probably the most popular Hellblazer story, but HELLBLAZER VOL. 4: THE FAMILY MAN is worth reading too. After all, it’s the storyline Matt Ryan has said he thinks would make a great Season 2.
And if you’ve read it all already? If you’re a longtime Hellblazer fan who knows how it all ends? Well, then you’ll want to look ahead to summer and the debut of Constantine: The Hellblazer, the brand new Constantine series written by Ming Doyle and drawn by Riley Rossmo. We know very little about it yet, but with those names attached, we know it won’t disappoint.
Yes, we realize the wait for more Constantine is long and something of a roller coaster, and you can rest assured that we’ll keep you posted on when it might return. But that doesn’t mean you’ve reached the end of his tale. No, if you’ve never read a John Constantine comic book, then his best may very well lay ahead.
Constantine’s season finale, “Waiting for the Man,” airs tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on NBC.