When DC announced that Hellblazer, the flagship title in the Vertigo line, would be ending with issue 300 and relaunching as Constantine in the DC Universe, the reaction amongst readers was mixed, to say the least. And now, via an interview today with Comic Book Resources, DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase have revealed that Robert Venditti, who was previously set to write Constantine, has been replaced before the series begins. Harass and Chase also noted that Jim Zub, previously slated to take over on Birds of Prey, has been replaced before his first issue was set to debut.From CBR:

Harras: Robert came to us with a fantastic pitch for "Constantine;" we really loved what Robert's doing -- he's working on "Demon Knights" now, and he's also working on another project for us that I really can't go into which is a big deal for us. But at the end of the day, Robert and Dan [DiDio] and I spoke, and "Constantine" was, for him, one book too many. It was the one thing that we had to go, "If we want you to focus on this one project, maybe we should make a change on 'Constantine.'" Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes very professionally, very nicely stepped up to the challenge [of launching "Constantine"].

Chase: Very quickly, too. Those guys already had ideas because of what they were doing in "Justice League Dark."

Harras: It was one of those things where we had to step back and say, "You know, Robert, we should concentrate you on these other projects right now." And like we said, with Jeff and Ray stepping in on "Constantine," weaving it closer to "Justice League Dark," I think it was actually the best solution to -- not a problem, but a challenge. We all sat down and said, how do we make this work?

So while the news that Venditti has been replaced will certainly upset some readers who were looking forward to The Surrogates creator's take on John Constantine, the news of Lemire and Fawkes taking over will likely help ease some fans fears and concerns. Said Lemire on the opportunity to write Constantine:

"As someone who has nothing but respect for the character and the incredible legacy of writers and artists who have worked on him in the past, I want to do everything I can to help create a comic that pays respect to who John was, but also reintroduces him to a whole new audience."

As for Jim Zub, he's been replaced on Birds of Prey by Sword of Sorcery writer and Jem creator Christy Marx. Zub, who was doing interviews to promote his upcoming run as recently as last week, was set to debut in March with issue #18.

Constantine #1 debuts March 13.

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