• Bety Setiyawati

Myth of Ordinariness as Reflected in John Constantine

Myth, according to britannica.com is a symbolic narrative, usually of unknown origin and at least partly traditional, ostensibly relates actual events and that is especially associated with religious belief. Myth is something we believe and we believe something because it has value. Myth can be reflected from many thing and one of them is a hero. In this popular era hero is being something phenomenon. There are Superman a humanist alien who gained a superb power, Batman a rich man who fight crimes using technologies and Spiderman which get a spider power from scientist, yet there is one hero an anti-hero who gained his power from his ancestor, from his genetic. He is John Constantine from DC universe comic which is I believe he has a value of myth of ordinariness. Analyzed by the theory of myth narrative by Nachbar and Lause.

First from Name, Constantine origin of name derived from the Latin name Constantinus a hypocoristic of the first names Constans and Constantius. The name “Constantine” is still very common is Greece and Cyprus and is common among Orthodox people in Albania, in the form of Kostandin, Kostantin or Kosta. In English the meaning of the name Constantine is: Steady; stable. Steady and stable means it is never changes as the character never changes to be another person to reveal his power unlike another superhero who need a ‘mask’ for it. It is in the line with the myth John reflected as he is always being himself. Power, John Constantine a fictional Exorcist is one of the modern anti-heroes with unusual powers. He has the ability to see and communicate with half-breed of demon and angle in their true form since his birth. In his young age, he once tried to commit suicide to escape from his vision but was saved by paramedics. For the sin of taking his own life, Constantine's soul is destined to be in Hell. Besides having unique abilities Constantine characteristic was also different from other modern super and anti-heroes. His other differences with others heroes are his tainted blood that has been shown to have healing properties either defense mechanisms, also his synchronicity wave traveling power that led John to be in the right place at exactly the right time.

Catchphrase, in a scene of Hellblazer comic Episode #139 entitled ‘haunted,' John Constantine once said “My name’s John Constantine. I’m not the nicest bloke you’ve ever met. But I do my best.” In another scene when John Constantine summoned Lucifer by slitting his wrists he said "Into the light, I command thee" Both catchphrases of the figure expressed its character ordinariness. He felt he is a common people as usual in which will do their best and everything he had achieved was not because of anything but God. Ability, as we’ve already known even John Constantine is a magician, he rarely uses magic spell and faces most of his challenges primary on his cunning, quick-thinking, and his knowledge toward occultism. For the example in the Constantine (2005) movie directed by Francis Lawrence, John Constantine juggles with words on Lucifer. John called Lucifer by slitting his wrists and even made Lucifer defeated Mammon for him. Lucifer who hates Constantine enough comes intended to drag his soul hell, a minute before Lucifer begin heaven appear before Constantine for sacrificing himself for Isabel. Infuriated, Lucifer heals Constantine wounds and cures him of his lung cancer so that he could a second chance to prove that he truly belongs to hell. In the case Constantine totally won made his two challenges against each other, he even healed from his critical cancer.

Icon, John Constantine not like other heroes, he has no specific model costume of his own but only style, he often seen wearing standard suit as common people, a white oxford shirt with maroon tie, a black trousers and shoes, and a tan trench coat plus his favorite brand of cigarette Silk Cut where he got terminal lung cancer from. John Constantine's trench coat has inspired many occult detective stereotypical look. The coat becomes John's iconic signature dress that he wears from time to time. John’s most known weapon is his trench coat, the coat has its own demonic powers, became sentient, and having emotions because it is in John's possession. Its power includes the ability to curse people, mind controls and snuffing life out of the victim, the coat also can withstand damage from many of John troubles.

Villain, in the Justice League Dark (2017) film directed by Jay Olivia the arc enemy of John Constantine is an evil called himself as Destiny. Hundred years ago Destiny is a sinister magician who’s dragged to hell by Etrigan. Once Destiny was a scientist which manipulating the Dreamstone with black magic and allowed him to manipulate somebody vision as it is look like a reality. The word ‘destiny’ sometimes referred to as fate, a predetermined course of events. Merriam Webster dictionary defines destiny as something that someone or something will experience in the future or a power that is believed to control what happen in the future. In the movie Destiny declared himself is god as he can manipulated, posses, changes people as he wants. In contrast with Constantine which is steady and stable and remain the same in other case they have similarities as they both are rouge as they do what they want and they two are magicians. Fans, John Constantine comic originally entitled Hellblazer are suggested for mature readers as the comic contain explicit violence, substance and drug abuse, sexuality, nudity, profanity, and other controversial subjects, similar to the content of R-rated films. Rated for a mature reader it is assumed will not influence them the bad thing on the comic. As a mature are usually more stable than other age stages and are able to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. They can clearly classify the good and the bad. Encompasses being aware of the correct and time and place to behave and knowing when and how to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society. Otherwise, it is possible for them to made John Constantine as a model role of style and personality, as John’s style is just like common people and also with his personality. Media, Hellblazer originally published by DC Comics, and subsequently by the Vertigo imprint since March 1993 when the imprint was introduced. In 2013 the series concluded with issue 300, and has been replaced by DC Universe title, Constantine. Then relaunched in 2016 with the tittle The Hellblazer. Well known for its political and social commentary, the series has spawned a film adaptation, television show, novels and multiple spin-offs and crossovers. The series was the longest-running and one of the most successful titles of the DC’s vertigo imprint and was one of the first modern occult detective fiction works and heavily influenced the genre to come.

Alter ego, as a hero they usually has an alter ego to show them to the world. They used a ‘mask’ which is contradictory with their hero nature. As the alter ego of Superman Clark Kent, they both has a contradictive personality as Kent is typically depicted as being clumsy and mild-mannered. Another modern hero with an alter ego is Spiderman Peter Parker, even he got his power intuitively they has a contradictive personality. Parker is more expressive when he became Spiderman, extremely different from his alter ego. In contrast with the pattern of modern superhero, John Constantine does not have an alter ego. He is himself when he come to show to the world also when he became the hero. He acted usual, ordinary, he can be mad and can be selfish too just as common people but still he is a hero. John Constantine first appeared in 1985 as a recurring character in the horror series The Saga of the Swamp Thing, in which he acted as a "supernatural advisor" to the main character. He also appears in an early issue of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. There in 1989, he helps Dream recover a pouch of sand which had served as one of Dream's totems of power. In a panel in Neil Gaiman's Batman: Secret Origins story "When is a Door", in it a film crew is asking people on the street what they think of Gotham's super-villain problem, John is shown smoking a cigarette, responding "Sorry squire, I'm not from 'round here' make that "no comment."" Though it is not stated that this is Constantine, he has the same appearance, speaks in a decidedly British fashion, and this would not be the first cameo Gaiman has given him in a comic.

Even John is one of the popular hero, his ordinariness differ him from others. It is seem from all aspects of him. His name, his power and ability, icon, even his personality. In one scene he ever uses magic to trick a cashier to get a new suit and pickpocket a passenger to buy meal. In the other hand still he struggles to overcome the influence of both Heaven and Hell over humanity, and despite his occasional forays into heroism. John Constantine seem want to deliver to the audience it is good to be a hero, to help people and is better to be a hero and still being ordinary as common people.


Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer







#ordinariness #Constantine #superhero #myth #popularculture #dccomic #mythnarrative


© English Letters IAIN Surakarta 2016


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