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Summary

  • John Constantine is known for outsmarting his enemies, historically relying on his cunning to win, rather than defeating his opponents by force.
  • John has always been portrayed as a self-defeating character, his own worst enemy – and this has been highlighted in several storylines where the antagonist turned out to be an alternative version of himself.
  • John’s carries the deaths and regrets of his past, which makes characters like “Golden Boy” and “Old John” uniquely equipped to manipulate Constantine, and as a result, they have proven to be the greatest villains he has ever faced.



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The famous sardonic sorcerer John Constantine has outsmarted gods, angels, demons, and everything in between. But in the end, his greatest enemy has always been himself. Whether that means his lost twin brother from a parallel universe, or a face-off with his older self.


Several times in John’s life, he’s gone up against alternate-universe versions of himself, and these have proven to be the greatest threats he’s ever faced. John is an extremely devious man, and he’s perfectly used to outsmarting people.

Constantine Keanu Reeves in DC Canon

John has bluffed with the souls of innocent children before, and the thing that often lets him get out of tricky situations is the fact other people are never truly sure just how far John will go. However, different versions of John know all of his limits and have proved fully capable of seeing through his tricks.

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Meet “The Golden Boy”: Constantine’s Twin From A Parallel Universe

First Appearance: Hellblazer #39 – Written By Jamie Delano; Art By Steve Pugh, Tom Ziuko, & Gaspar Paladino

Golden Boy tried several times to manipulate John into merging souls with him, even causing John’s cancer, in order to try to physically and mentally weaken him. This manipulation took place over a decade of John’s life.

John Constantine had a troubled family life. He was born to Thomas Constantine and Mary Anne Constantine. Mary was pregnant with twins, but John ended up unintentionally strangling his brother in the womb with the umbilical cord. John’s birth was difficult, and Mary Anne died in childbirth, which led to his father hating him for the rest of his life. This event set the tone for the rest of John’s life; however, in an alternate universe, John was the one who suffered a tragic death in the womb.


Instead, John’s twin brother, referred to only as the “Golden Boy”, was born, his delivery miraculously easy. The Golden Boy then grew up with a loving family, being offered tons of opportunities that John could never dream of. Still, even that wasn’t enough, and eventually, the Golden Boy turned his eyes to the universe where John lived. Golden Boy tried several times to manipulate John into merging souls with him, even causing John’s cancer, in order to try to physically and mentally weaken him. This manipulation took place over a decade of John’s life.

Constantine’s Twin Brother Orchestrated Almost All Of John’s Misery

John Constantine sitting at the bar looking distraught and disheveled


As it turned out, Golden Boy was behind almost every bad thing that happened to John, in many of the most familiar Hellblazer stories. It was eventually revealed that Golden Boy wanted Constantine’s synchronicity wave traveling ability, which was his entire goal for merging. Their confrontation ended with John using a mystical scalpel to sever his link to his twin brother forever. In the context of the character’s long history, this still marks one of the closest times that John ever came to losing himself entirely to an enemy.

One of the most consistent aspects of his character is the fact John Constantine is afraid to die. Depending on his current standing, sometimes he’s damned to Hell, with the First of the Fallen waiting to torture him, and sometimes he’s barred from both Heaven and Hell, meaning his soul will be obliterated on death. Both options seem especially terrifying to him, which is one of the motivating factors in John’s character throughout the decades, as he seeks to do everything he can to avoid death. This is best shown in a dark future where John has been wounded in battle against an evil Timothy Hunter.


“Old John”: A Manifestation Of Constantine’s Will To Live

First Appearance: The Sandman Universe Presents #1 – Written By Si Spurrier; Art By Marcio Takara, Cris Peter & Aditya Bidikar

John Constantine realizes the old version of himself is a

Constantine managed to beat Old John by doing what Constantine always does; he cheated. By forcing his own son to kill an innocent man, he dirtied his soul to the point Old John couldn’t use it.

With no other option, he makes a promise with an older version of himself to sell his soul. Ironically, this older John was a tulpa created by John’s wish to live long enough to grow old. This older John was every bit as experienced and manipulative as John himself, but lacked a soul. Motivated by the same desire not to face oblivion on death, Old John manipulated Constantine, sending him all over England, directing John to deal with supernatural problems that, when solved, allowed Old John to absorb the residual power left over.


Constantine managed to beat Old John by doing what Constantine always does; he cheated. By forcing his own son to kill an innocent man, he dirtied his soul to the point Old John couldn’t use it, and was ultimately destroyed trying to absorb it. It was only the last-minute realization that Constantine even had a son that he could use as a pawn that allowed him this victory, once again proving that it is Constantine, in one form or another, who can push himself to limits even DC’s forces of hell were unable to.

Outsmarting Old John Required A Major Sacrifice

Constantine has always been a character who makes hard choices. One of the hardest things a person can do is face themselves. John hasn’t simply done this once, but twice.


Constantine has a reputation for being completely heartless in the name of the greater good. He willingly sent friends to their deaths entirely, so he could achieve a goal that he felt was the greater good. While John isn’t completely without emotion, his reputation as such allows him to make absurd bluffs that would never work for other people. He once threatened God that if he was sent to Hell, he’d eventually rule it and then march on Heaven. This forced God to help John avoid damnation. Consistently, the only antagonists who have truly gotten the best of John Constantine, have been versions of John himself.

John Constantine isn’t a bad man deep down. He carries the deaths of every friend he’s ever sacrificed with him, literally haunted by his regrets. This turned out to be the major way he defeated Old John, by poisoning his soul with so much regret and self-loathing that Old John simply couldn’t survive interacting with it. During the storyline Empathy is the Enemy, being exposed to John’s emotional state immediately killed dozens of people. Time and again, John’s hatred of himself perfectly translates into his greatest villains.


Sometimes, winning the battle isn’t as easy as just punching the bad guy until they give up. Constantine has always been a character who makes hard choices. One of the hardest things a person can do is face themselves. John hasn’t simply done this once, but twice. He’s had to face the life that he could’ve had, one full of love and potential, and he’s had to face the concept that a happy version of himself is just a monster. That’s why, for all the villains and demons John has faced, the worst enemy John Constantine has ever had to confront has always been himself.



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