John Constantine was born in Liverpool, Lancashire (now Merseyside) on May 10, 1953. His mother, Mary Anne, died giving birth to John and his stillborn twin brother because an earlier abortion—forced on her by John's father, Thomas—had weakened her womb. Because he was unable to accept responsibility for his wife's death, Thomas blamed John and the pair grew up with a deep dislike for one another. Whilst in the womb, John strangled his twin brother with his own umbilical cord.
In their childhood, John and his older sister Cheryl lived briefly with their aunt and uncle in Northampton to escape from their father's alcoholism and subsequent imprisonment for stealing a female neighbour's underwear. They moved back to Liverpool when their father was released. John's bloodline and ancestry were known as the Laughing Magicians, legendary mages who have the power over synchronicity and were infamous for bluffing and tricking gods. This ancestry later drives John Constantine to partake in his lineage and practice magic. One of John's first acts of magic, as a child, was to hide all of his childhood innocence and vulnerability in a box to rid himself of it. Later, in the 1960s, a teenage John ran away from home, but not before a botched curse caused his father to become withered and frail. John eventually made his permanent home in London in 1969, rooming with Francis "Chas" Chandler, a young man who has since gone on to become John's closest—and longest surviving—friend.
During the 1970s, John became involved in occult circles in London. He travelled other countries and visited San Francisco, where he met, and subsequently began a relationship with, the female magician Zatanna Zatara. He also became enamoured of punk rock; after seeing the Sex Pistols at the Roxy Club in London in 1977, John cut his long hair, called himself Johnny Con-Job, and formed his own band, Mucous Membrane, whose members included Chandler (as a roadie), a drummer named Beano and fellow Liverpudlian Gary Lester. They later released an album called Venus of the Hardsell. John also performed as a famous stage magician in the 1980s, where he became famous for predicting the assassination attempt on U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
John's first venture into occult "heroism" was a disaster. On tour with Mucous Membrane at the Casanova Club in Newcastle, he found the aftermath of a magical orgy gone horribly wrong: an abused child, Astra Logue, had conjured a hideous monster that took revenge on her father, the club's debauched owner, and the other adults who were tormenting her, and the monster refused to leave. With typical recklessness, John convinced some members of the band, along with several occultist friends, to try destroying the creature by summoning a demon of their own. Unfortunately, this demon was not under their control and after it had destroyed the child's monster, it tormented Constantine's friends and took the child to Hell. John had summoned the demon by one of its names, but not its true name – Nergal – which would have been required to bind and control the demon. John suffered a nervous breakdown after this incident, and was committed to Ravenscar Psychiatric Hospital, which he drifted in and out of over the years.
The guilt of Astra hung over him for many years until, in his mid-forties, he used some magic and con-artistry to free not only her, but also the souls of all the other children trapped in Hell. As for the rest of the "Newcastle Crew", the incident left the group both physically and psychologically scarred. After helping Dream retrieve his sands, Dream in turn relieves Constantine of the nightmares that had plagued him since the incident.
John Constantine proceeded to become a superhero of sorts, teaming up on multiple occasions with Swamp Thing and other occult superheroes. He was a founding member of Justice League Dark, and frequently worked together with the main Justice League to defeat planetary threats.
Video Game Appearances
- LEGO DC Super-Villains (DLC)