DC Comics' popular Brightest Day series comes to an end this week with issue #24, and it is one that will be remembered for many years to come. The year-long story focusing on resurrected heroes from across the DC Universe, Brightest Day has already depicted the return of a wayward and beloved character, and the new issue continues that tradition with an appearance of..... SPOILER ALERT, obviously, so read on to find out more.

John Constantine has returned to the DC Universe. Appearances of the occultist troublemaker have been limited to his mature readers Hellblazer series or other titles under DC's Vertigo imprint for nearly 20 years, but Brightest Day #24 indicates a whole new era of all-ages stories for the popular character.

The chain-smoking, fouth-mouthed and relentlessly sardonic anti-hero made his appearance during writer Alan Moore's tenure on DC's Saga of the Swamp Thing in the 1980s, where he used his deep knowledge of the supernatural to guide the plant elemental through his adventures in the DC Universe as they interacted with other spiritually spooky characters like Etrigan the Demon, the Phantom Stranger and Deadman. Those adventures are collected in a series of lovely hardcovers from Vertigo.

Constantine later earned his own series, Hellblazer, where he has performed numerous pwnings upon all sorts of demons, angels and other otherworldly entities in pursuit of a balance between good, evil, and his own selfish concerns. Classic stories are available in a wide selection of trade paperbacks, but the best place to start may be Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits, written by Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Punisher MAX) and detailing Constantine's supernatural struggle with lung cancer.

When DC Comics initiated its Vertigo imprint for mature readers (i.e. swearing, nudity, extremely sophisticated and/or experimental narratives, as opposed to the over-the-top cosmic adventures of the DCU), Constantine and Swamp Thing found themselves more or less totally cut off from the rich superhero tapestry from which they'd come. While "crossover" between the mainstream DCU and Vertigo characters isn't uncommon -- Death from The Sandman has appeared in JLA and Action Comics, the Golden Age Sandman, Starman, Blackhawk and Hourman were all featured in Vertigo's Sandman Mystery Theatre, among other examples -- Constantine and Swamp Thing had always been viewed as being a bridge too far for DCU integration.

Hellblazer is fast approaching its auspicious 300th issue at Vertigo, and fans of that series and its main character will not be affected by Constantine's reintroduction to the superhero side of DC Comics. Indeed, they are quite plainly two different versions of the same character, now. While the Hellblazer Constantine has been aging and developing in real-time since his series began in the 1980s, the version seen in Brightest Day appears as he did in the classic Swamp Thing stories by Alan Moore.

The latter will be the star of DC's next big miniseries, Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing. Written by former Vertigo editor and writer of Tokyo Days, Bankok Nights Jonathan Vankin with art by Marco Castiello, the story follows John Constantine and the heroes of the DC Universe on their quest to help Swamp Thing take his rightful place in the structure of Earth, which is apparently crucial to the survival of the planet. It is an obvious echo of Constantine's original mission to aid Swamp Thing in his understanding of his greater purpose.

Brightest Day #24 is on sale now in comics stores everywhere and can be purchased online from Things From Another World.

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #1 goes on sale in June and can be pre-ordered now from Things From Another World.

Brightest Day #24




1:10 Variant Covers by IVAN REIS

In the extra-sized issue #24, a new age for the DC Universe begins! A long shadow is cast across the world in a finale that will have everyone talking! Twelve heroes and villains were resurrected, but that doesn't mean it will remain that way as the new champion of Earth is chosen!

DC Universe 48pg. Color $4.99 US

On Sale April 27, 2011

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