First Trailer for NBC’s Constantine TV Show

Okay, I was fairly excited about the new Constantine TV show before, especially when I learnt the pilot was to be directed by Neil Marshall. But now having seen the trailer that excitement has reached nigh-fever pitch. Are there a few things, tonally speaking, that I’d have done differently? Sure. Does the story draw some pretty clear lines to the middling efforts of Keanu-stine? Sure.

But this is a valiant effort, and by the looks of things a very watchable one. And in terms of tone and theme, much closer to Vertigo Comics’ cancelled, yet much-loved, Hellblazer series, than that tone-deaf reboot Constantine.

I recently gave the collected edition of the new comic another go, thinking that at first I might have not given it a sufficient chance, that I had pre-damned it with expectation and hope. Hope that a DC Universe all-ages superhero universe version of Constantine could deliver the same power that Hellblazer did. That hope was futile.

As it turns out, David Goyer understands the character of John Constantine much better than Ray Fawkes does.

Twenty Dollars Worth of Comics

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

To commemorate the recommencement of work on Broken Gears, it’s time to do a list for comics, similar to my £50 Worth of Movies. Perfect for those in possession of a shiny tablet, a ComiXology account, a desire to get back into comics and 20 digital dollars burning a hole in their Paypal account.

Just like the movie list, where TV show box sets were prohibitively priced for the restriction, graphic novels and collected editions aren’t going to be able to make the cut here. So I’m going to focus on individual issues that I think are good samplers or otherwise worthy of note.

And the final caveat: This list is going to be contentious, but it’s my wholly unsophisticated and personal opinion. There’s not a person in the world who would agree with every single option on this list. I hope the list is at least interesting, even if it’s not good.

Saga #1  $-  Image Possibly one of the best new comics in the last years; inventive, touching and exciting, a space opera with a difference
Young Avengers Volume 2 #1  $1.99  Marvel What happens when YA doesn’t mean toned down, but turned up? Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie at the height of their powers.
Phonogram  Volume 2 #1  $-  Image By the same team as Young Avengers, these series is wonderful, unless you hate music and comics.
Hellblazer #143  $1.99  DC A one-shot by Warren Ellis and a decent introduction to the character of John Constantine.
All Star Superman #1  $1.99  DC In my view, All Star Superman is the only Superman comic anyone needs to read.
The Sandman #1  $1.99  DC Launching the career of a young Neil Gaiman, this masterpiece is required reading
The Mire   $0.99  Indie A beautiful and heartbreaking indie comic.
Detective Comics #871  $1.99  DC The start of the Batman: Black Mirror storyline
The Walking Dead #1  $-  Image Thanks to the TV show, The Walking Dead now has worldwide renown. It started here.
Planetary #1  $-  DC Warren Ellis again, this time a high-octane meta-comic, unearthing the archaeology of comics while mocking the Fantastic Four.
Sex Criminals #1  $-  Image Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is a strangely sweet tale, and my current favourite comic.
Mouse Guard: Fall #1  $-  Archaia Bravery! Adventure! Tiny Mouse Warriors! Written and laboriously illustrated by the talented David Petersen.
Civil War #1  $1.99  Marvel I think they wimped out at the end of the series, but Civil War is important in Marvel comics lore.
Immortal Iron Fist #1  $1.99  Marvel A sideline character, barely worthy of note. But nobody told Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, who spun an epic tale.
American Vampire #1  $0.99  Image Gunslingers and vampires and lots and lots of blood!
30 Days of Night #1  $-  IDW Source material for the film, this showcases Ben Templesmith’s beautiful art.
Nightly News #1  $-  Image Can you trust what you read? What you hear? It’s time to take the messengers to account
Fables #1  $1.99  DC Fairy tale characters escape to New York, to flee a war that has robbed them of their homelands.
Nextwave #1  $1.99  Marvel Warren Ellis yet again, who somehow convinced Marvel to let him spend a comic mocking The Avengers and all things Marvel.
Chew #1  $-  Image A Cibopath can take a bite from anything and get a  sensation of what has happened to that object. Which can get gross if you’re a detective.
The Invisibles #1  $0.99  DC Magic and rebellion, this is Grant Morrison’s magnum opus and grimoire.

Constantine TV Pilot Looking Good

My love for the character of John Constantine is well documented, but I was still cautious about the new TV pilot being commissioned by NBC. However, two things have shifted me from ‘cautious’ to ‘cautiously optimistic’. The first is that Neil Marshall, the director of Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and The Descent, will be directing the pilot. And the second? Constantine, as performed by Matt Ryan (voice of Kenway in Assassin’s Creed 4), looks spot on.

New Constantine TV Pilot Greenlit by NBC

Icon-TV-150The news is now nearly a week old, but still worth noting amid the frenetic controversy around the new Batman TV show, Gotham. But Deadline announced at the same time was the news that NBC had greenlit a TV pilot  for a Constantine TV show.

“It is written/executive produced by The Mentalist executive producer Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, the go-to writer for Warner Bros.’ feature DC adaptations.

The two are executive producing, with Cerone serving as showrunner.”

In the days of the deserved success of shows like Arrow, and American Horror Story, I think the time could be right for a Hellblazer TV show. But, as ever, it depends on how it’s adapted. Will it be a Vertigo Constantine on, or a New 52 one? Or will we have another version of Keanustine?

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with it. I certainly wish I was writing it.

On Reality

I think that, to a greater or lesser extent, writers have a tenuous grasp on reality. In fictional worlds we create situations, people and places, but tinged by our own perspectives and experiences. Even in non-fiction, the worldview we put forward is a constructed, edited one, addressed at an audience and free from many of the contradictions of our inner minds.

I bring this up because, on the few times I actually remember my dreams, the barriers between dreamworld and ‘reality’ become so blurred for me, that even on waking I’m still not sure whether I’m still asleep. I had such a dream last night. In a semi-awake state I wrote the following in my journal:

It’s not the first time I’ve had dreams indistinguishable from the real world, whether realistic nightmares of masked loved ones, or dreams of a full day of work. This also tallies with my love of films that question what reality is, whether it be The Matrix, Existenz or, most appropriately, Inception. I wonder if my love of these films is because of the dreams, whether the dreams are because of the films, or because both are a symptom of my post-modern suspicions about the so-called absolute and irrefutable nature of reality.

The nature of reality is something I come back to a lot. I write a lot of urban fantasy, a modern, recognisable world where beneath the comforting veneer of the familiar lies the horror of the unknown. I wrote a non-fiction piece called Parallel Words for a comics website and a somewhat niche spoken word piece called Plato’s Cave. Anything to try and make sense of the desert of the real.

We use the word ‘real’ as if it’s solid, reliable, its stability a comfort. Reality is terror enough for some people, without adding the complication that it might not be quite as comfortingly immutable as they convince themselves it is. Malleable reality, inter-layered interlocked personal paradigms, these are the ephemeral things of dreams and nightmares, where nothing can be relied upon.

I recently read, and loved, Michael Marshall Smith’s Only Forward (review soon!) in which the protagonist says the following:

People always find it so frustrating that there’s no structure they can see, that they just have to follow the river downstream and see what they find. They want to know the plot so they can guess the end, because they’re afraid of what it might be. I can understand that, even though I know it’s not the way things work. I never know what the hell’s going to happen next, but I can live with that.

As writers we craft our realities, overlapping with those of others from time to time; we show them our rivers and will them to follow them downstream. If we’ve done our jobs well, they won’t know what the hell’s going to happen next, and we hope they can take aspects of what we’ve created for them and integrate it into their own realities.

Finally, in summary, I leave you with some words of wisdom from John Constantine:

John Constantine on Reality