Constantine, a new NBC TV horror series based on the long-running DC Comics series Hellblazer, debuted its first trailer Sunday — and at least in its general outlines, the show looks like it may satisfy the hard-to-please fans of the comic book. Whether it will find the broader audience of several million needed by a network series just to survive is another story.
The Hellblazer comic book ran for 300 issues starting in 1988. From 1993 on it was published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, which meant it was aimed at “mature readers” and contained adult language as well as graphic sexual content to go along with the frequent occult violence. The comic was meant to be purchased only by comic book readers over the age of 17.
But in 2012, DC Comics announced that the “mature readers” version of Hellblazer would be canceled and replaced with a toned-down version called Constantine — also the title of the upcoming NBC TV series — perhaps in anticipation of attempts to market the character of the book’s protagonist John Constantine to a general audience.
John Constantine was created by British comic book writer Alan Moore, better known as the writer of the classic graphic novel Watchmen. The character is supposed to be a working class practitioner of the occult whose trademarks are a rumpled trench coat, a cynical Liverpudlian wit, and an ever-present cigarette. The latter element is missing from the NBC version, at least in the trailer.
The character was earlier featured in a 2005 Warner Bros. feature film, also titled Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves as an American version of John Constantine.
The NBC show stars 33-year-old Welsh actor Matt Ryan — formerly of the CBS Criminal Minds spinoff series Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior — affecting a rather persuasive Liverpool accent as John Constantine.
Lucy Griffiths of HBO’s True Blood portrays Constantine’s female sidekick — though which one is not entirely clear from the trailer. In the comic, Constantine went through several.
Constantine will air on Friday nights, traditionally not a big night for TV viewing. But it will be paired with another fantasy-based series, Grimm, which should give it some ratings support.
Check out the first trailer for Constantine. What do you think? Will you be watching the adventures of the “occult detective”?