John Constantine has slowly become a big part of the New 52, since he is one of the members of the JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK book currently. While the long-time running HELLBLAZER book is coming to an end soon with issue 300, fans will be able to read on with more adventures when this new series comes out. Writer Ray Fawkes took a few moments to answer some questions about this upcoming series.
Comic Vine: Currently, you're working with Jeff Lemire on JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, and recently, it was announced that you'd be writing CONSTANTINE, again with Lemire. How did you land the new CONSTANTINE gig?
Ray Fawkes: Jeff and I were working very closely with Rob Venditti, who was originally set to write the book, and Constantine plays a major role in Justice League Dark. We were looking to ensure that the two titles worked well together - not that they'd cross over, necessarily, but that John's experiences in both titles would make sense, in the larger context of his life as a character. When Rob decided to step away from the book, the editorial staff at DC approached us as a logical choice, since we were already very familiar with John in the New 52. Of course, we were more than happy to step in.
CV: We've seen a lot of Vertigo elements make their way into the JLD book, and considering both you and Lemire are creators that have worked at Vertigo are there more characters or concepts coming over to either of the books you're working on?
RF: Well, yeah, probably. It's no secret that Jeff and I both have a strong love for many of the titles that ran under Vertigo's banner, and it's impossible to imagine that we wouldn't want to draw on some of the concepts and characters established there. It's also worth saying that we have a very strong respect for the creators who previously worked with characters like Constantine, Black Orchid, Swamp Thing, Madame X, and Shade the Changing Man, and while we a certainly looking to break new ground and take advantage of the freedoms that the New 52 offers us, we can't resist calling back to some of our favorite details.
And why should we resist? Vertigo was where many of these characters were given new life the last time around, and those iterations drew great elements from the previous versions in the DC Universe. We are taking the next step with them, not throwing out what came before.
CV: What is one Vertigo character or idea you'd love to bring over to your books and why?
RF: Can I say this? I'm going to say it. I'm nuts about Kid Eternity. Ever since Grant Morrison and Duncan Fegredo blew my mind with their three-part series, I've been nuts about him. I know that Jeff reimagined him in National Comics, but I'd love to find a way to get him into one of my books, even if only for a short time.
CV: What is your writing process when working with another writer?
RF: That depends on the nature of the project. With Jeff, it's very conversational - we're on a similar, but not identical wavelength, so it makes for an easy back-and-forth where both of us may be throwing in thoughts or concepts that the other hasn't considered. We tend to talk things out first, then go create our pieces separately, and then pass them back and forth a lot until we're both happy with the script as a whole.
With Constantine, though, that process applies only to the plots - I'm writing the scripts. We don't want Jeff to burn himself out, do we?
CV: What can we expect from the on-going CONSTANTINE series?
RF: You can expect cruel trickery, devastating mockery and ruthless violence. And that's just what John's up to while he explores the weirdest, darkest, and most insidious corners of the DC Universe. You can also expect difficult ethical choices, thoroughly harrowing villainy, and the occasional putting-in-ones-place of any character, and I mean *any* character who thinks they can't be brought down a peg. Nobody is off-limits when they cross paths with John.
CV: How will this DC version of Constantine compare to his Vertigo counter-part?
RF: Well, this version on John has witnessed the advent of the age of the superhero while firmly establishing himself as an in-the-shadows power player in this world. His psychological make-up is a bit different as a result - he's more physical, for one thing, often getting his hands a bit dirtier, and perhaps a bit more impulsive (though that may just be a factor of his relative youth). He also has a different agenda - one that I don't want to give away in too much detail here - that is directly related to the way power works in the DC universe.
CV: Will the events in the CONSTANTINE book be self-contained (within this and JLD) or do you have plans for something on a larger scale that could bleed into other books?
RF: That's hard to say right now. The plans for the first few issues show John operating under the radar of most DC characters, but his activities with the Justice League Dark, as well as the role he'll be playing in the upcoming Trinity War, will put him firmly on the map in a larger scale. Doubtless we'll be seeing him in other books - or seeing the inhabitants of other titles in his.
CV: Which character would you like Constantine to team up with and why?
RF: Zatanna. No question, in my mind. She's a perfect foil for him, really. Her approach to magic is wildly different than his, she is on a vastly different power scale, she has every reason to disapprove of his activities (and he of hers - you'll see why) and yet they share an undeniable attraction for one another. They ought to be fighting, but they care so much about each other than they can't keep their distance, even when they should. In a perfect world, they'd be happy together, fighting criminals like Nick and Nora. Too bad this world isn't perfect...
CV: Is this going to be a good starting point for new readers or should they start with more recent issues of JLD?
RF: CONSTANTINE #1 was written with an eye to the notion that readers may be picking it up without ever having read Justice League Dark, and I think it works very well that way. Our goal, really, is to make sure that each of the two books enriches the other without impinging on it, so you'll never *need* to be reading both, but if you do, you'll hopefully enjoy them both more.
CV: How do YOU pronounce it, ConstanTINE or ConstanTEEN?
RF: Haha! Now you're trying to get me into trouble! Let me put it this way: whichever way YOU pronounce it, if you happen to get it wrong, John's not the type of person to bother correcting you. He'd just double up on his next drink.
Thanks a bunch to Ray Fawkes for taking the time to answer these questions, and make sure you all check out CONSTANTINE (or Constanteen) this March!