DC Bumps CONSTANTINE Rating To 15+, Reestablishes Vertigo Character Traits - SPOILERS

Constantine: The Hellblazer
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

With this week's Constantine: The Hellblazer #1, DC has not only re-established John Constantine's bisexuality in the DCU, but the publisher is pushing the character and his comic toward their former "mature readers only" status, now recommending the comic for ages 15 and older.

Up until February 2013, occult detective John Constantine was the star of his own comic, Hellblazer, under DC's mature imprint Vertigo. The comic was advertised as appropriate for readers 17 and older.

When the book was canceled, DC immediately switched the character to become an active participant in the more teen-friendly DC Universe, making him part of the Justice League Dark, and giving him a solo title, Constantine, that was rated "T" — recommended for ages 12 and up.

Hellblazer's cancellation at issue #300 was publicly met with disappointment from some creators online, who thought the switch from "mature" to "teen" would hinder the freedom of writers crafting stories about the formerly gritty character.

Two years later, Constantine and Justice League Dark were both canceled, and this month, DC launched a new approach: Constantine: The Hellblazer. The new title is rated "T+" — which DC lists as being appropriate for readers 15 and up.

Credit: DC Comics

The more mature approach, written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, with art by Riley Rossmo, kicks off, on page one, with Constantine nude and covered in blood, and later shows him having sex with a demon.

The story in Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 also makes a few references to Constantine's sexual orientation: Not only does he flirt with a man in the story, but by page 13 he's "shagging" a female demon, who says the two of them have formerly invited men into their sexual escapades to make a threesome.

Also, despite the last two years of John Constantine's active participation with superhero events within the DCU, Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 has no reference to the character existing within the superhero universe.

Credit: DC Comics

It's also worth noting that DC's rating system has several discrepancies between its print comics and digital versions. For example, as of publication of this article, this week's Harley Quinn #17 is rated "T" for ages 12 and up on its print cover, but is 15 and up on comiXology. Gotham Academy #7 is "all ages" on digital versions, but has a "T" 12-and-up rating on its print cover. And Suicide Squad #9 is for 12 and up on comiXology, but "T+" for 15 and up on its print cover.

DC has been setting the age recommendations for its own comics since 2011, when the former rating organization, the Comics Code Authority, became officially defunct. DC's self-imposed ratings are broken down as follows: "E" for everyone, "T" for ages 12 and up, "T+" for ages 15 and older, and "M" for mature.

DC's ratings can be found on most print comics beside the UPC code, although the printed rating does not list the actual age recommendations, which can be found on DC's website. On DC's digital versions, the rating is not a letter, but lists the actual age recommendation on the description page for the comic.

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