Friday, October 24, 2014

Can Constantine usher in DC Horror?

It's October 24th, so it's time for another DC Comics series to premiere on TV. This time it's a former Vertigo Comics star who's been moved into the Nu52...If you don't read comics that made no sense...Never mind.

John Constantine!


Now you may have seen a movie with this same name...Starring Keanu Reeves.

It isn't all bad. It has a number of good qualities, and did enact one of the character's classic story lines. But it also had plenty of flaws. This includes making him a psychic, and giving him some silly tools and a car.

So enjoy the movie if you like, the series will be doing it's own thing. It's an effort to get closer to the original comic book.

I will be honest. I have read a number (but not all) of Hellblazer's story arcs, and some of his appearances in Swamp Thing. (Along with the first 20-some issues of Justice League Dark.) So I know my knowledge is far from perfect.

(I will be SPOILING some plot points from the pilot for Constantine.)

The series takes us into John Constantine's life in the wake of a failed exorcism. His efforts resulted in getting a young girl, Astra, dragged off to Hell.

After spending some time at Ravenscar Psychiatric Hospital, Constantine is once again drawn into the battle to save humanity from the squabbles between Heaven and Hell.

This take on the character is an improvement on what we saw last time. He's a dabbler in magic. He's an ass. And, it isn't safe to be his friend.

The pilot introduces Liv Aberdeen. She's a new character who has a destiny to hunt down evil. But it seems she won't be a continuing character on the show. I don't know if they intend to kill her off, or just have her and Constantine go separate ways. Both often happen with Constantine's friends. We'll see how the pilot explains it.

In her place we will be getting a character from the comics. Zed.

Along with him is a strangely resilient friend, Chas. They face down a variety of badness.

Constantine will also see himself vying with an old enemy, Nergal. I also hear the the Spectre will be popping up in some form.

And maybe with his ties to them, we'll see the emergence of various other members of Vertigo Comics and Justice League Dark. Also, maybe a Dr. Fate will emerge on his watch.

How many TV series is it now where the Helm of Fate is sitting around
waiting for a user?

Any excuse for some Dr. Fate. There is reason to hope that the helm will rise to find a new bearer. Please!

The show is clearly not going to the most faithful rendition of the Vertigo character. It is on NBC, so there are limits. (Being on basic cable he won't be smoking much.) And it's trying to draw in as wide an audience as possible. So liberties are being taken. But for what it is, it may be a fun and dark occult horror adventure. It's worth at least checking out the completed pilot on October 24th.

Now we should get to a couple of issues the show has. David S. Goyer is producing the show, and writing the pilot. As we've learned in the passed few months, Goyer is an asshole. But he can writer as well. The trouble is if some of his dumber attitudes invade and permeate the show. We'll have to see.

The other issue is that the character of John Constantine has been defined as bisexual in Vertigo Comics. It's established that he's had a few boyfriends over the years. Now that isn't guaranteed to be an issue. (Please remember that I'm a straight CIS guy spouting off. Ignore me at your convenience.) He doesn't seem to be romancing in the pilot, and it may not be a big matter in the show. The character in the comic wasn't talking about being bisexual (Take my limited knowledge of the full history of Hellblazer with a grain of salt.) that often. The trouble is that people working on the show have made a point of stating that Constantine is straight. That is a stupid answer to honest questions on a serious issue to many viewers, and fans. It's clueless. (I can only hope they get the necessary clue.)

But I do have to bring up the point that Constantine, under the Nu52, has been rebooted. People who read his newer book have noted that his qualities from Vertigo ended up getting diluted down. I have only read the first issue of that book. Has his sexuality been undone? Because I could see DC unconsciously do that. This TV character may be quite close to the new version of Constantine. ...Maybe I should be looking at the new book and finding out...Actually it looks like there was at least one reference to him having a male lover... So, yeah, the show has screwed up. Damn it, show.

If this is a line in the sand for you, I can understand.

I still hope the show is actually good. Maybe with time they'll see that they are totally wrong and allow Constantine to be Constantine in full. If it works, maybe like Arrow, it can be the anchor for a range of other DC Magic series.

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