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DC is ‘supremely proud’ of just-canceled Hellblazer, Dan DiDio assures

John Constantine, by Renato Guedes

Seemingly in response to blowback from Thursday’s surprise announcement that one-time Vertigo flagship Hellblazer will be canceled and resurrected in the New 52 as Constantine, DC Comics has released a statement from Co-Publisher Dan DiDio expressing pride in the nearly 25-year-old series.

“We’re supremely proud of Vertigo’s Hellblazer, one of the most critically-acclaimed series we’ve published,” DiDio said. “Issue #300 concludes this chapter of Constantine’s epic, smoke-filled story in style and with the energy, talent and creativity fans have come to expect from Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini. And no one should worry that John is going to hang-up his trenchcoat — he lives on in March, in the pages of the all-new DC Comics New 52 ongoing series, Constantine, by writer Robert Venditti and artist Renato Guedes.”

If the statement was meant to soothe fans of Hellblazer, the only remaining title from Vertigo’s 1993 launch, it didn’t work. One commenter on the DC Comics blog insisted that, without the comic’s trademark vulgarity, nudity and adult themes, “it cannot possibly be the same.” Another referred to the upcoming Constantine as “basically Hellblazer-lite.” Still another fan offered his take on DiDio’s comments, summarizing, “We are very proud of Hellblazer so we are cancelling it. This logic is perfectly sound!” (At our sibling blog Comics Should Be Good, Sonia Harris offers her own thoughts on the announcement, and ideas for making Constantine for financially lucrative.)

However, Venditti, best known for his work on The Surrogates and the newly revived X-O Manowar, assured his Twitter followers that, “I have a TREMENDOUS amount of respect for Constantine and the creators who made him who he is. I’m taking this very seriously.” Asked whether the New 52 version of John Constantine will still be bisexual, he replied, “Keeping everything under wraps right now, but the goal is to keep Constantine recognizable. Don’t fix what ain’t broke! “

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48 Comments

Cut the BS Vedetti no one blames you and when you start talking about the canceled series you just piss the old fans off more, then that leads to spite.

Your doing it for the money, no one blames you for it, it’s perfectly understandable, but when you start talking about respecting a canceled book to do and are about to attempt a relaunched dcu version you piss people off even if you have the best intentions. These companies have horrible publicists, isn’t there anyone around to shut these guys up.

As much as I have enjoyed Hellblazer over the years, I can’t find myself being too upset by this. Maybe it’s that Milligan’s run didn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s that EVERYTHING gets rebooted sooner or later. (Star Wars remake in 2031!) Maybe it’s that by now I know DC is a business first and foremost. Maybe it’s that my favorite Hellblazer writer, Mike Carey, has a series of novels with a character almost but not entirely like John and those are as good as the comics.

Is this a smart move? Probably not. Will it be a total failure? Given the success of Swamp Thing and Animal Man, I see no reason it can’t be really good. It’s far more troubling to me that Vertigo seems to be going away than that comics’s most likeable asshat is being made a PG character.

“Maybe it’s that my favorite Hellblazer writer, Mike Carey, has a series of novels with a character almost but not entirely like John and those are as good as the comics.”

imho the Felix Castor novels are far better than the majority of Hellblazer comics I’ve read.

Dan Didio succeeded where lung cancer failed

who cares, it never was any good anyway. (even when written by Ennis)

Are there DC comics Didio ISN’T “supremely proud” of? Your words are empty and meaningless, Dan.
And Constantine will be canceled by issue 16.

Reminds me a bit of when Rick Santorum said “you can love something and still kill it.” His very next sentence was about eating Big Bird. Maybe Didio was just in the mood for Braised Constantine?

I’m a long-term fan of HELLBLAZER. I’ve enjoyed it immensely over the years (wow…twenty-five years…).

I’m perfectly fine with this.

I think, as with SWAMP THING and ANIMAL MAN, that CONSTANTINE will be just fine in the DCU proper. YES, they’ll have to tone down a bit on some of it, but big deal. If the stories are solid and creepy, I couldn’t possibly care less how many times they show a pair of tits.

That’s my two cents.

So…

Some of you are finally starting to wake up and understand what others have been telling you about 52 and the editorial troika (Didio-Lee-Johns) at DC for over a year now???

Good!

And while I DIDN’T read Hellblazer — not my cup of tea –, I understand the importance of the Vertigo line to DC.
I have nothing against adult comics… I don’t want my superheroes written this way to be honest(!), but at the same time there’s a need for a more adult line that operates outside the regular rules which frankly work better for the likes of Batman and Superman.

Why DC can’t understand these basic concepts and stop F’ing everything over is beyond me.
I have never seen the Big Two operated so poorly now. I honestly believe a lot of the edicts are being driven solely by what’s going on with the live-action movies…. They’re already paying for that.

We’ll see what happens when they rerun those 20- and 40-year-old storylines once too often for even the surviving monthly fans that are left. I can tell you NEITHER company has created much of anything good the past 20-25 years that’s worth adapting.

I’m surprised that DC thinks “Flashpoint” is worth animating but hey, look who’s one of the bigshot editors there who gets more reprints than any other writer for DC has — including many of the MUCH better writers like Englehart, Moore, Wein, etc. — and you’ll see priorities are more than a little screwed up. The egos of these current guys-in-charge are sure worse than what I’ve seen/witnessed before….

I, for one, am looking forward to this. I haven’t read Hellblazer since Azzarello and Carey, and am looking forward to the opportunity this provides to get back into it.

Afterwards, Didio and Jim Lee went back to kissing their own asses.

I love irony of Venditti’s comment: “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.” Hellblazer certainly wasn’t broken.

After a couple years of thinking the concept was interesting but not going near it I finally started reading the series about three weeks back. Seems like I picked my time to hop on board perfectly.

I urge all Hellblazer fans to boycott Constantine.

I give it way less than 16 issues.

This isn’t just the end of Hellblazer (which is terrible enough already). This is the erosion of Vertigo entirely. Why keep a line of niche, mature books when you can water these characters down, toss them into the DCU and sell substantially more copies?

Just watch – Vertigo will be dead within 5 years. The only thing keeping it alive are writers like Willingham and Snyder, whose series sell well. As they close out those stories (and get offered more and more DCU writing gigs to suck up their time), there won’t be a place for Vertigo anymore.

DC is a money-first company now, so what’s the benefit in keeping an imprint going that sells less than DCU titles, and can’t easily be turned into PG-13 films?

See you, Vertigo. It’s been fun.

@ George B- You took the words right out of my mouth.

I’ve been reading the title since 2004 and I’ve never been more insulted by the those three hacks in all my 13 years of reading comics. The writing’s on the wall for Vertigo the moment they announced all the characters being shuffled back to the DCU.

Instead replacing Peter Milligan with those who had their heart set on one day writing the book; talents like Paul Cornell, Bryan Wood, and Joshua Hale Fialkov and artists like Ryan Kelly. I wrote on Tim Bradstreet’s Facebook wall asking for his take on the news (awaiting relpy). The NuCoke DCU John’s a fake and Tim Hunter looks like that EastEnders actor who was charged with sexually assaulting a minor for god sake!!

As for Venditti, he’ll be eating those words once PG Constantine (and Keanu Reeves’ twin Nick Necro) gets cancelled this time next year. Trust that!

I don’t about the apolgists who pop up defending BS and stay kissing up to the three knucleheads in charge, but I’ll take my chances with Dynamite, Image, Dark Horse, and IDW. They know not to insult my intelligence and say “YOU READ WHAT WE WANT & LIKE IT!!”

I´m supremely proud of stop to support the current regime in charge of DC Comics (DiDio-Lee-Johns-Harras-Nelson).

Hellblazer currently sells just over 9,000 copies a month currently and has steadily declined in monthly sales by approximately 25% over the last 5 years. the trades don’t do nearly as well as trades for other Vertigo books. Approximating the numbers of recently cancelled new 52 books, you can say DC is setting around between 18,000 – 20,000 for sales on a book a month where a book is likely no longer profitable. Hellblazer is currently at half of that. The market isn’t likely to support 2 John Constantine books, never mind one that is specifically for mature readers. Based on the JL Dark and Swamp Thing numbers, a new 52 Constantine book is likely to launch around 30 – 50,000k and stabilize down around 25 to 30k.

Yeah, it sucks. I love the book too. But 1)it got to 300 issues which not many books have done and is an enormous achievement for any comic never mind a mature readers Vertigo book. 2) This is clearly and purely a business decision that, with the direction of the book’s sales were inevitable (and had probably been likely much longer before they made this announcement – I think the editors and Peter Milligan might have known this was coming way back 4 years ago when he started writing issue 251 honestly) and 3)There’s nothing saying that if they are able to establish this new book as a hit and get the character in front of a wider audience, they won’t try to do a new Hellblazer book down the road.

Sometimes it’s just about the math (and a little non fanboy perspective.)

@ Erik So does this mean DC has its own math system like the Republicans?

“I’m still here! Aim your comics at me! Or I’ll thrown another internet tantrum!!!”

– Yet another iteration of the same complaint being uttered again and again, by the few remaining pissed-and-vocal fans that have been purchasing DC Comics since the early 90s.

“I urge all Hellblazer fans to boycott Constantine.

I give it way less than 16 issues.”

Why?

That’s all I want to know: WHY?

@GS089 – I’m not sure what your getting at. They are cancelling a book that sells half of what their least selling books are selling in place of publishing a book that will likely sell more then twice as much. How is their math like the republicans? 25K is greater then 9K. There aren’t a hidden 16k people not being accounted for currently buying Hellblazer.

Incidentally, all the people yelling about this being the end of Vertigo are right because no one is buying the other books they put out. If you want Vertigo to stick around, start supporting things like Saucer County and the New Deadwardians (which I think are both great books). Buy an OGN like Get Jiro! or Right State. It seems to me Vertigo has been for sometime now trying to create newer concepts not based on DC owned properties and not based on the same old same old, (an argument people seem to constantly rail against) and when they do take these old company own properties away people seem to complain just to jump on the DC complaint wagon. If you want to save Vertigo and people like Karen Berger, then start supporting what they are doing now rather than complaining about a book that is currently only selling 9,000k a month. (If you take the complaints as a sampling of overall audience, there’s no way this many people were actually currently reading the book.)

From Tim Bradstreet’s Facebook wall post:

“It’s an amazing thing to hit 300 issues in any run. For that, Congratulations to Hellblazer! I was there for 200 ;) Relaunching JC at DCU? Don’t like that at all. Hellblazer was the first Vertigo book. It launched the whole line, and there it should stay.”

Well, I’m sad because I’ve been enjoying Milligan’s run on HB a LOT. It’s consistently been one of my favorite monthlies for the last several years and I have really been digging “married” John since Epiphany has been all sorts of awesome and a great shot in the arm for the book. Here’s hoping #300 goes out with the, er, blaze of glory it deserves.

And sod CONSTANTINE. I tried and disliked JL Dark and have no interest in a solo book for the watered down version…

If we all say we’re proud of Didio, maybe someone will cancel him.

a very sad idea.

“Given the success of Swamp Thing and Animal Man, I see no reason it can’t be really good. It’s far more troubling to me that Vertigo seems to be going away than that comics’s most likeable asshat is being made a PG character.”
– Simon DelMonte

I completely agree with this. The problem isn’t the new series because the new series could well be fantastic. The problem is that this move chips away at what made DC marginally more interesting a publisher than Marvel over the years: It had some semblance of variety in content and aesthetic. Marvel has always wanted everything lumped into that shared Universe, making exceptions for alternative superhero imprints that offered just slight variations on their existing superhero line. DC, at one point, offered a pretty nice alternative in the form of Vertigo, an imprint that was truly and entirely divorced from their mainline. They added to their slate WildStorm, which, while sci-fi and superhero focused, still gave readers much different flavors than what they would get with standard-bearer DC books, to such an extent that many of the top comics from both companies attempted to go with a more WildStorm-centric tone. Alan Moore had his own line at one point and Vertigo was pretty much wide-opened as far as what they could or could not come out with.

Vertigo still exists, of course but who knows for how long? DC keeps making it more and more plain: They are not in the business of creating interesting comics, they are in the business of developing license-worthy IP. Comics for the sake of comics doesn’t seem to mean much to the current Didio administration, they just want to see if they can make profitable spinoffs in TV, video games and movies.

“This isn’t just the end of Hellblazer (which is terrible enough already). This is the erosion of Vertigo entirely. Why keep a line of niche, mature books when you can water these characters down, toss them into the DCU and sell substantially more copies?

Just watch – Vertigo will be dead within 5 years. The only thing keeping it alive are writers like Willingham and Snyder, whose series sell well. As they close out those stories (and get offered more and more DCU writing gigs to suck up their time), there won’t be a place for Vertigo anymore.”
– Jeff Anders

I agree with this also. It’s tough to see it going any other way. The company-owned characters featured in Vertigo titles would be easier to sell if they were made into PG-13 versions of themselves. Which is sad because that’s not the point of Vertigo in the first place, it was to give more creativity to creative people.

It will become more and more popular for creators with a unique vision to forget Vertigo altogether and go pitch it to Image. They have no reason not to. DC’s main line will cannibalize whatever interesting concepts left and that will be the end.

@ Erik- With all do respects, I’ll think you’ll find some readers (mostly outside of DC & Marvel) care about quality more than quantity the way you and others feel.

I think Hellblazer has had its day. It was a fantastic series, that drew many great writers and artists and hopefully it will be collected and respected in the way it deserves to be. If its not selling well, then a sound business decision is to wrap it up at 300 and celebrate the stories that have been told. Changing the name to Constantine makes more sense, IMHO it would have been a better decision to have called the entire series Constantine in the first place.

Moving it into the DCU is a disappointment, I’d rather they just left it. I understand that they’re trying to build a DCU canon to rival Marvel and from a financial/ marketing point of view it makes sense.

But wow the DCU creative decisions suck. Their storytelling sucks and the art sucks. The talent is leaving in droves. The crap floats to the top. The reason people aren’t buying the Vertigo titles, is because most of them have poor art and poor storytelling. I bought Saucer County no 1, Voodoo Child, no 1 in good faith and they were seriously piss poor. I don’t bother with Fables because I have too much to catch up on, Spaceman was a curio, but Risso’s art hasn’t been the same since 100 Bullets, the rest of them aren’t even close to being as good as the Vertigo titles before.

I firmly believe Vertigo was the greatest comic imprint there has ever been, but the way it’s going, there’s no heart and interest behind it any more from the DC troika so let it go and let DC go too. Most of the comics I buy now are Image, Dark Horse and others.

This is it for me and DC. They’ve finally run me off. This is the most idiotic decision. I’ll be getting all my books from better companies like Dark Horse from now on. I was a loyal DC fan since 1987. The New 52 and this cancellation of Hellblazer just broke the camel’s back. Farewell DC!!

@Kory S – I also care about quality. But I’m also realistic that if a book is below the threshold of most of a publishers output, it’s probably going to be cancelled. DC’s running a business, not a wish fulfillment center for the smallest number of fans of a character. If people wanted to read more of this version of the character, they should have gotten more then the 9,000 people currenlty reading the book to read it. DOn’t know what you got till it’s gone.

As far as moving the character to the DCU, I’ve enjoyed how he’s been written both by Milligan and Lemire in the JL Dark book and I think it’s established that they aren’t the same exact characters. I’m not going to make judgements on how the new series are because it’s not out yet and i’m not ignorant enough to judge somethings quality without actually having read it.

I can tell you if you truly are this upset about DC cancelling Hellblazer, the answer most certainly won’t be to tell people to boycott this book or boycott it yourself. I can all but 99.9% gurantee you this book ending in 16 issues won’t lead to anything but JOhn COnstatine not being seen in anything but JL Dark. Where as, if people gave thi book a chance, if new people were exposed to John Constitine to the point that it starts to pick up old Hellblazer trade sales, if his visibility is raised to a point that the market proves he can support two books, there’s nothing saying they could launch another Vertigo style Hellblazer book down the road.

I just think sometimes this fan outrage against decisions are fueled much more by emotion then actual logic. And emotion that leads people to say “I’m done with DC” and “I’m boycotting this book I haven’t even read yet” are only going to lead to the same place a petulant child gets sent when he’s having a temper tanturm as opposed to what the ultimate positive outcome could be when trying to make the best of a crappy situation.

Very disappointing.This is the only comic I’ve picked up every month for 20 years.Every issue wasnt good but they changed up creative teams regularly and I didnt have to deal w/ crossovers or the same stories being told over & over. Will not pick up the DCU version. I read swamp thing and animalman, but I ‘ll drop Animal man soon. both books are just retelling story themes that were already told by Vertigo.I bought almost all the Hellblazer issues and am not going to pay again to read the same stories just told PG13. Shame,Vertigo kept me reading comics and reading the big 2. But , if Vertigo doesnt inject some quality books, they’ll go under. I used to buy most of their books but w/ 100 bullets,Scalped, Northlanders and now hellblazer gone or finished I’m just down to Fables. Guess i can drop a few DCU books & start reading more of Dynamite’s more mature books.

@ Erik. Nor is buying the new title and have the DC troika laughing and insulting my intelligence at the same time. I voted with my wallet after Nightwing #93, did the same when the started screwing up Cassandra Cain and made Dick Grayson Batman, plus the New 52. Now I’m doing the same.

Sure it’s easy to say “I’m done with X or Y” but unlike those who say it but keep buying, I mean what I say. I abandoned the DCU and never looked back now I’m bidding DC adieu permanently. You can save the economic spin doctorimg to the next reader as I’ve heard it before and doesn’t mean squat. I respect your choice to give the new title a try and surely you should respect mine.

@Kory
The Dick Grayson as Batman stories, especially the Batman & Robin run, generated the most enjoyment I’ve gotten from a superhero book in the last five years. the concept was nutty but the execution was very good.

That is the one thing that gives me hope for the Constantine ongoing.

@ Stephen. Well, that’s your cup o’ tea. I have 0 love for Grant Morrison’s Bat Opus. It’s overblown fanwank.

@Erik Scott: I agree with everything you mentioned

Before, I go ahead, I have nearly every Hellblazer issue. I started buying Hellblazer during Garth Ennis’ run and bought TPBs for Delano’s issues. I keep urging people, to the point that it’s probably getting annoying, to read Hellblazer, especially to those who are bored of the mainstream stuff. But alas, I don’t have a comic website where I can reach a large audience. I’m sad that Hellblazer is cancelled. But credit to DC for making it up to 300 issues. I’m looking forward to the Constantine ongoing, as I like the previous work the writer had done.

Anyway, there’s a lot of butthurt fanboys/girls just foaming at the mouth, ready to blame it all on DC. When many of those comic readers and big comic websites like CBR, Newsarama and IGN are as much to blame. A lot of comic readers whine about the tired same thing, but they never try comics like Hellblazer and just go ahead with buying the same comic event trash that Marvel and DC do every year. It’s surprising that Hellblazer reached up to 300 issues, when titles that sold twice as much were canned by DC.

On another website (I think it was bleedingcool), one even suggested that they will drop all the DC Dark comics and other Vertigo titles because of Hellblazer’s cancellation. That’s a brilliant idea! Drop the titles that actually diverse and interesting compared to the many Batman and Superman titles that DC puts out. That will definitely show DC that comics like Hellblazer is what the audience crave for.

As for the comics websites like CBR, Newsarama and IGN, when was the last time those website reviewed Hellblazer? Yet you can’t stop reviewing just about every Avengers vs X-Men-related title. So those websites, better not come whining about how unfair that Hellblazer was cancelled when those sites are just as much to blame. I bet last time Hellblazer was brought to anyone’s attention by these websites was during that horrible movie with Keanu Reeves.

How much longer can they sustain Hellblazer with sales of 9000/month and dropping? I’ve got no problem with this reboot, and am willing to give it a chance. I’ve got no problem with Vertigo now becoming a completely creator-owned line.

Of coarse they cancelled it! It only sells approx 8k a month! 8000 readers and DROPPING every month! You people amaze me. And I never see the trades setting the charts on fire.

I pretty much only read the Azzarello issues, and that run also had some great artists attached.

Never heard of this new writer, so I won’t pick up this new series blind. I’ll wait for reviews and word of mouth. But I am enjoying Constantine in JLDark.

D Peace – you took the words out of my mouth! That is what made DC such a fascinating *publisher*. Lots of attempts by them to explore beyond superheroes back then (like with Minx, Zuda, Paradox Press, Milestone). In fact, just read an interview with Jenette Kahn, former DC publisher. It wasn’t just superheroes to her. Sad to see DC become a second-rate Marvel.

I’m tired of all this “books needing to be in a shared universe” stuff. So limited. Even Marvel with their Marvel Now, same old. Who cares about this universe stuff anyway except editors with no vision??

Though I wasn’t reading much of Hellblazer (couldn’t warm to him), I love The Unwritten and Fables. All this cancellation just makes me wonder about the future of Vertigo.

Karen Berger is and always was the right person to be in charge of the entire DC Universe.

I don’t understand why they gave so much power to hacks like DiDio, Lee, Harras, and Johns.

@ Dominic. Because the WB are an incompetant lot.

Jase – I totally agree, which is why I lean so heavily towards Image these days. Cheers.

“I’ve got no problem with Vertigo now becoming a completely creator-owned line.”
– John Smith

See, that would be good but I just don’t know if there’s any kind of creative culture internally there at DC to foster such a thing. I think it’s a lot more likely that creators with a unique vision, creators who care about making something new and owning all of it unequivocally, would pitch it to Image, which is a publisher wholly dedicated to new and interesting concepts and creator ownership right down to its mission statement. And if you look at the number and breadth of creators excited to work with Image, I think that trend supports what I’m saying. Even Grant “the face of DC” Morrison has jumped ship so that’s a pretty relevant signal. Meanwhile, over at DC, the number of writers and artists doing creator-owned books through Vertigo is SHRINKING. Am I right about all this or am I missing something?

While I don’t agree with the decision to cancel Hellblazer, I understand it. Vertigo will be DC’s Icon imprint – an imprint for creators to do mini/ maxi series. The catch will be that said creators will have to also work on a “successful” New 52 DCU book or previous Vertigo books. Just look at Snyder and Murphy’s The Wake and Lemire’s Thrillbium.

Not totally related but connected – how scared/ worried must WB be after Disney’s recent coup of Lucasfilms? Keep in mind, that means more than having Star Wars as IP. Couple it with the success of Marvel films and continued success of Pixar films, what are those WB execs thinking? How will if effect DC Entertainment? What will be the windfall upon DC’s comics?

@Apollo9000

I wonder if Disney has made an offer to buy DC from Warners yet? If the Man of Steel movie flops, how much more likely will DC be to taking that offer?

At the moment Image seems to be the better deal for established writers.
Brian Wood got $%&§ed when WB refused to let him get a TV deal for Northlanders.

There goes my last monthly series :(

Didio is a hack. When is he going to figure out that cannibalizing the intellectual properties of other publishing companies and slapping a DC logo on them won’t help him sell his crappy superhero books. First wildstorm was stripped for ideas and charectors, and now vertigo. The sad part is, It was never the charectors that made vertigo and wildstorm books so popular, it was the writers that brought fresh, new concepts and original ideas. No amount of shenghai’d vertigo charectors will ever make the new 52 books good. They are just terrible, stereotypical 90’s trash with a few cannibalized concepts and charectors. I’ve been reading vertigo books since the 90’s. I own all of hellblazer, sandman, animal man, and swamp thing in individual issues. But after this trash, and shamelessly milking watchmen for prequels against moore’s wishes, I have little to no interest left in buying their books at all. I will purchase Neil gaimans sandman prequel when it’s released, and then I think I’m done with DC entirely. It’s clear that they don’t have any respect for writers, fans, or anything but the almighty dollar. Congratulations DC, you’ve managed to destroy the one line that made your books worthwhile.

And before anyone else plays the 9,000 readers card, Hellblazer sells very well in the trades.

@Dominic

Karen Berger has been an exceptional editorial director. She knows when a proposal has the right stuff, and knows enough to let her team explore the silver in the creative vein.

I’ve seen her in action, and she’s just awesome.

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