Hellblazer is set in a contemporary world, albeit a world of magic and supernatural conflict behind the scenes. Although issue 14 made a passing reference to superheroes, the series has since developed its own pocket universe in which the supernatural or paranormal does not play a large role in the lives of most ordinary people, and in Earth-threatening circumstances no superhero interventions are shown or hinted at, suggesting that superheroes no longer exist there. However, some DC Comics characters—most notably the fringe supernatural characters such as Zatanna, The Phantom Stranger, Dream, and Swamp Thing have made appearances.
John Constantine, the main character of Hellblazer, is portrayed as a kind of confidence man who does morally questionable things, arguably for the greater good. He usually triumphs through guile, deceit, and misdirection, but often makes more enemies in the process than he defeats. Indeed, it is a common theme in the book that Constantine is unable to effect any lasting change or enjoy unequivocal victories. While sometimes striving for the good of mankind, Constantine is often manipulative and a dangerous person to have as a friend, as the lives and souls of those around him become perilously involved in his misadventures. He takes pains to protect himself from direct attacks, but his friends and relatives are often endangered in order to strike at him. The spirits of deceased friends haunt him, individually or as an entourage of ghosts.
Constantine has made appearances in other comic book titles, such as The Spectre, The Sandman, Lucifer, and Shade, the Changing Man. He was a recurring supporting character in both Swamp Thing and The Books of Magic throughout their numerous incarnations.
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