I love Constantine, okay? It doesn’t matter that I first loved him as Keanu Reeves in 2005, and only started the comics because he appeared in Swamp Thing. I love him because if you’ve ever so much as thought about urban fantasy, he’s the character you just know exists somewhere. If you have magic in cities, you will eventually create this character… A slightly grimy cynic in a trench coat, chain smoking in a crime scene. You don’t know quite how he got where he is, but he can explain the magic in your nightmares, and knows where to find all the demonic stool pigeons. He’ll probably save your life, but never call him a hero.
John Constantine is the perfect incarnation of the type. Also, he is bisexual.
Most people don’t know this, because most comic writers don’t use it! He first appeared in 1985. In 1992, somebody decided to drop a line about “boyfriends,” but it didn’t really come up again until Brian Azzarello’s run in 2000-2002, when we met one of those boyfriends. There’s a five-issue arc where they’re together again, but it’s not at all romantic, it’s all part of an elaborate revenge plot involving sex clubs and demons. Pretty much run-of-the-mill for the John Constantine: Hellblazer series at that time. Except for that, it’s usually either ignored, or comes up as dialogue references, not as a plot point.
In the New 52, the implications are stronger and there’s a smooch or two. I don’t find the writing to be that strong, (a crying shame coming from Jeff Lemire who I know can do great things), but still… it’s Constantine. Then there’s the TV show of course, where he’s not bisexual at all, but honestly I had no interest in seeing that even BEFORE they announced he’s straight.
Basically what we have here is an incredible antihero whose bisexuality is a natural element of his character, but who has a history of writers who either didn’t know about that part of him, weren’t sure what to do with it, or actively did not want to address it. I need more than that, please. More more more.
I can’t really call these recommendations. I didn’t like them. But if you wanna find the character, here’s where!
- 2000s: John Constantine, Hellblazer: Highwater by Brian Azzarello (pub. 2004, ISBN 978-1401202231). CN: Neo-nazis, BDSM, lots of sex and violence. That volume is getting difficult to find because people didn’t like it, but you’re looking for John Constantine, Hellblazer #170-174, the “Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels” storyline.
- New 52:
- Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark by Peter Milligan (ISBN 978-1401237042). The name is not at all the least-inspired part of this series, in which they took a cast of my favorite characters and gutted them to create younger, shallower versions.
- Constantine Vol. 1: The Spark and The Flame by Jeff Lemire (ISBN 978-1401243234). This series is better, and I haven’t gotten far yet — it may go good places! Series is currently not being published during the Convergence event, but coming back in June.