Like many of you, during quarantine I found time to develop some new hobbies and revisit old ones. On the old side, I bought a keyboard as a gift to myself on Valentine’s Day and have started playing piano again. It’s really tapped into my right brain. I didn’t realize it, but working at home and not having a commute meant I had stopped my daily dose of music. It was a dopamine hit I didn’t realize I was missing, and playing music is even better. I got unstuck on a story I’m working on and I’ve just feld more creative in general.
On the new side, I’ve become a comic book nerd. Back in 2014, I was unemployed with time on my hands so I downloaded a comic book app and read Fables just because it was based on storybook characters, and I love reading modern takes on fairy tales. I also read The Sandman around that same time, because it was created by my favorite writer, Neil Gaiman. It’s getting a television adaptation and I mentioned wanting to reread it, but not knowing where to start with getting the physical copies and am working my way through the magic side of DC comics. My husband, who always surprises me with his attention to detail, presented me with the complete Sandman omnibus as my Christmas present last year. It was absolutely glorious! But I wanted more. I did some light Googling and found out that Gaiman also created another series, The Books of Magic. It’s part of the Sandman universe but also part of DC comics proper. Our introduction to the protagonist, a young Londoner named Timothy Hunter, is through a visit he receives from John Constantine, Hellblazer (!!!), Doctor Occult, Mister E, and the Phantom Stranger.
This is when I back up and tell you that my quarantine tv adventures have including catching up on the Arrowverse. So you know how Marvel movies and tv shows all tie in together to create the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU)? Well, DC’s screen adaptations are all over the place but on the CW, they have a slate of shows that all crossover and form a mini DCU, called the Arrowverse because it started with The Green Arrow tv show. My favorite of the bunch is Legends of Tomorrow, because it starts off as a time travel show. A bunch of Arrowverse side characters who wouldn’t have amounted to anything much in their own timelines, get recruited to save the world. There’s a time traveling villain, Vandal Savage, who is going to conquer Earth and other worlds from there, and they have to go to historical inflection points that he’s infiltrated to fix the timeline. However, this slate of characters include Hawkman and Hawkwoman, who are reincarnations of ancient Egyptian lovers with a curse put on them by Savage. He’s immortal, so of course this introduces the fact that magic exists in this universe. We get other evil sorcerer villains and eventually, the addition of John Constantine, Hellblazer.
If you’re an OG nerd, a horror film lover with Goth tendencies, or are just a Keanu Reeves superfan then you might remember the 2005 film ‘Constantine.’ It’s brilliant, and one of my favorite movies. John Constantine is a wisecracking, chain smoking, nihilistic but nonetheless charming sorcerer who spends his time exorcising demons as penance for the sins of his youth. Due to his power and potential as a weapon of evil, but refusal to completely succumb to his dark side, Constantine is one of hell’s most wanted souls so he gets into a lot of trouble. However, the movie wasn’t a blockbuster hit so we haven’t got a sequel, although there are internet rumors swirling around now that comic book properties have proven to be hugely profitable.
Several years ago, there was a Constantine show on NBC but tragically, it got canceled after one season. However, the good folks at DC did a little bit of retconning, brought back the same actor and integrated him into the Legends of Tomorrow cast. The storylines have expanded to include sorcerers and demons, so Legends is helping fill the gaping hole in my life left behind by the completion of 15 seasons of Supernatural. *weeps in Carry On, My Wayward Son*
Suffice it to say, now that I’ve gotten acquainted with some DC characters other than Batman and Superman, I’m intrigued. DC has a very deep character bench and their character backstories are a little more real world and a little less “just do the right thing” than Marvel characters. The multiverse features a bit more prominently. Having read The Books of Magic, I now have to go work my way through the Hellblazer comics. Constantine gets his start in a Swamp Thing storyline so I might have to check that out too. And oh yeah, Tim has a female magic mentor, Zatanna, who is Constantine’s sometimes girlfriend and has her own movie being developed so now that’s on my list too. Down the rabbit hole I go!