Graphic Novel Friday: Sort-of Endings for Hellblazer and Swamp Thing

Recently, two iconic Vertigo characters bid adieu to the status quo in comics, either ending their grand run or finishing a stellar arc with select creators.

One of the most surprising announcements in recent comics news was that publisher Vertigo elected to end their longest running series, Hellblazer, with issue #300 (available in digital format or via our third party marketplace). Writer Peter Milligan diligently wrote the book for as long as I read it in single issues, and his issues  comprise the most consistently entertaining run in comics that I’ve read in the past decade. Milligan reinvented anti-hero, dark warlock, possible immortal, chain-smoking John Constantine as a reluctant husband and grown-up. Sure, Constantine still ran into the usual demons and forces of evil, but under Milligan’s pen John met and wed Epiphany, a young witch who tamed the cad, who showed him that there was more to life than death. In Milligan’s 50 issues of Hellblazer, John traveled across the world, was attacked by his own trench coat, lost a thumb, gained a nephew, and sacrificed his father-in-law to the First of the Fallen (not a good thing).

I read the final issue three times last weekend because Milligan infuses multiple twists into the overarching plot surrounding John’s ultimate fate, or fates. His interactions with Epiphany are heartfelt and heartbreaking husband and wife moments. Plus, Milligan ties up many loose plot threads without making it feel like a chore or checklist. And that last page? Wow. Coupled with longtime Hellblazer artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini, this is the way to end a beloved series—with a literal “bang” and a metaphorical one. I suggest beginning with the Scab collection and reading from there to this final issue. It all makes sense at the long journey’s end, I promise. John Constantine will be folded into the proper DC Universe with Constantine #1, out later this month with a new creative team.

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