Beginning in March, Constantine , the new series by writers Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes, will deal with with the dark and dirty side of magic in the DCU.Featuring art by Renato Guedes, Constantine focuses on the hero that Fawkes and Lemire have already helped define for the New 52 as he serves as the leader of Justice League Dark. But in his solo title, John Constantine will deal with the magical threats that are even too down and dirty for the heroic team.
Along the way, he'll run into some characters that might be familiar to DC readers, like revamped versions of Papa Midnite, Sargon the Sorcerer and Constantine's love interest/supporting cast member, Zatanna.
Although Fawkes is fairly new to the DC Universe, he has also just started collaborating with Lemire on Justice League Dark and is going to be writing two issues of Barbara Gordon's story starting with this week's Batgirl #17, filling in temporarily for regular writer Gail Simone. Before working with DC's New 52, the writer was prolific in the world of indie comics, including The Apocalipstix and Mnemovore, and has also done some work at Marvel.
Following up on our initial conversation with Fawkes when his Constantine gig was first announced, we chatted with the writer about what readers can expect from the new title.
Newsarama: Ray, now that you're a few issues into writing Constantine, what is the series shaping up to be?Ray Fawkes: Constantine is turning into the window through which readers can see the dirtiest side of superpowers in the DC Universe, the nasty magic side.
Nrama: We have a little bit of that with Justice League Dark, which is a book you're co-writing. What differentiates where Constantine goes? Does he dive into more difficult cases? What distinguishes his mission from the team?
Fawkes: In his own book, John deals with the stuff that he thinks the Justice League Dark's delicate sensibilities might not be able to handle.
The Justice League Dark is kind of a superhero team that deals with magic. And through them, John deals with a lot of the supervillains in that world.
In his own book, he's going to deal with the ones who fly under the radar of the superhero world, or who are much too dangerous to let people like Deadman or Frankenstein face off against.Nrama: Last time we talked, I asked you to sum up the book in a word or two, and you said "surprises." But now I'm getting the feeling it's "dark surprises."
Fawkes: Yeah, yeah. Some pretty dark surprises. I think fans will be pretty surprised at this sort of view into the world of the DC Universe, and the re-imaginings of some of the perhaps more familiar magical characters from the past.
Nrama: Will we immediately see re-imaginings of some known DC magic characters?
Fawkes: Some of them, immediately. Sargon the Sorcerer plays a very strong role in the first story.
Nrama: What's your first storyline?Fawkes: The storyline is going to show you exactly what it is that John thinks magic is, and what it costs everybody who uses it. And you're going to find out what John's real mission in life is. And by the end of that first three issues, readers will see just how badly John's own activities do threaten his existence and do harm him.
He's not exactly able to shrug things off as easily as it seems, like he does in public, for instance in the Justice League Dark.
And so I think by the end of the first three issues, the readers are going to see that John's actually a lot more of a heroic figure than he would ever admit to being, because he does take on a lot of pain and a lot of suffering in order to do what he thinks is right.
Nrama: When Constantine was first announced, a lot of people were wondering how he would be portrayed compared to his depiction in Hellblazer. But now that you and Jeff are going to be writing it, I think we have a good idea of your Constantine from how you write him in Justice League Dark. But is he similar in his own series, or are we going to see that he acts a little differently when he's on his own?Fawkes: He definitely acts differently. When he's with the Justice League Dark, he's got his game face. He's got his, 'All right team! Let's do this!' And he will say or do whatever is necessary to get them motivated.
When he's alone, you see him more, I think, through his own eyes. You see what he really thinks of the world. You'll get a lot more of his actual thoughts.
You'll also get more of what he won't show the team. So you'll see his fears and his genuine emotional reactions to a lot of things.
I think, a lot of the times in Justice League Dark, when something happens that John would have a reaction to, he'll cover it up with some kind of snappy statement, or maybe throw a cigarette into his mouth instead of showing us what his actual facial reaction is.
But in his own book, when he's all alone, there's no one to cover up for, so readers are going to see what he really thinks about a lot of things that are happening in the world.
Nrama: I know last time we talked, you said there would be a supporting cast. Can you give any details about who we'll see?
Fawkes: Zatanna is going to play a role in the book as one of the supporting cast members. Readers of Hellblazer back in the day will also recognize Papa Midnite, who will be reappearing in this book.
Most of the other characters who form the supporting cast of the books are other individuals who have, usually not by their own choice, been drawn into the world of magic.
And in some cases, John takes pity on them. In some cases he finds kindred souls in them.
So some of the people who hang out with John are going to be his support structure, the people that he actually confides in or likes hanging around with or feels the need to protect.Nrama: If you pick up Constantine #1, you don't need to know any of the history he has with Justice League Dark or any other titles?
Fawkes: No, #1 is written as if you're being introduced to the character for the first time.
Nrama: And you've been working with Renato Guedes?
Fawkes: Yes. He is doing a spectacular job. I've seen a lettered proof for our #1, and I've seen a fair number of pages from #2, and my mind is blown! I'm one of those guys who, when I'm writing a script panel, every once in awhile, I'll throw in a bunch of stuff like, "and in the room, there are some crazy things like..." and I'll list a few things. And Renato is a guy who, like, takes that on as a challenge and draws it all! And it's really amazing to see. It's quite unusual.
Nrama: Does this tie into greater things in the DCU? With Justice League Dark, we've seen indications it's going to play a role in Trinity War. Does Constantine?
Fawkes: He is definitely imbedded in DCU, and he's going to be involved with Trinity War, and he's going to be encountering some other DC characters pretty rapidly in his series.
So yeah, he's not separate from everything else. He does have a role to play in the larger universe.