We got quite a bit of John Constantine's backstory either laid bare or at least hinted at tonight.
We also got to meet Papa Midnite, one of the most beloved characters in Constantine's supporting cast.
So...what did we see? What did we miss? Read on...!
John's friendship with Bernie isn't surprising; he has a history as a musician. We'll see more of that coming up in the episode titled "A Feast of Friends," which will introduce Gaz, a character from the comics who has a complicated (and bad) past with John.
His band -- Mucous Membrane -- is referenced here, as is their record, "Venus of the Hardsell." It was written by John and Gary Lester and released in 1978, by 'Snot Music record label. The lyrics and video for the song were printed in Hellblazer Annual #1, written by Jamie Delano with art by Dean Motter.
This week, more than any others, I'm falling back on the Hellblazer Wiki for information, so check them out.
Somebody made a surprisingly good music video based on what's in there...
I Wanna Be Sedated
Weirdly, there doesn't appear to be any particular references in Hellblazer to The Ramones. They seem like such natural bedfellows, too.
Hand of Glory
A major plot point in Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, there is an ongoing struggle between The Invisibles and The Outer Church to obtain and find out how to control a Hand of Glory. It is seen has having the propensity to open doors in timespace – i.e. open gates to other worlds and ages.
While The Invisibles is a comic published by DC/Vertigo, it's unlikely we'll see that version of the Hand in Constantine since Vertigo titles are generally owned or co-owned by the creators themselves -- certainly The Invisibles is.
The Hand of Glory as a concept exists outside of The Invisibles, and functions more or less as described/depicted in this episode.
Trading life for magic
The idea of trading a little of his mortality for favors and/or magic isn't something that's new to John. He does it in the comics fairly often. Luckily for Constantine, he can do it the other way around, too. Or at least has in the comics. He's been able to con or trick demons into things like curing his cancer.
"He said his name was Anton."
Could that be Anton Arcane? Certainly they haven't been shy about the relationship between Constantine and Alec Holland.
In the comics, Papa Midnite is an immortal mob boss, businessman and voodoo practitioner. He is an uneasy ally and sometimes an enemy of John Constantine. He served a similar role in the 2005 film Constantine.
He first appeared in Hellblazer #1 and was a key part of many of Constantine's early adventures. He was also apparently slated to appear in the pilot episode, but was cut late in the game; a script that leaked online reportedly featured the character in a cameo.
Midnite is a master of voodoo; he's able to create and control voodoo zombies, alter his physical appearance at will and a number of other handy skills in addition to having a similar level of control over general magic to Constantine's.
Born in the 18th Century, Midnite was a dabbler in the dark arts back then and when a would-be slave rebellion recruited him to make them a protective spell, his failure led to his sister's death. He was cursed to immortality at the same time, at least as long as whites remained dominant over people of color in the U.S.
He's been using his sister's decapitated skull to speak with the dead ever since, and has been very active as one of the world's most powerful mystics since the 1980s or so.
You can check out our interview with Michael James Shaw, who plays Papa Midnite, here.
The Sex Pistols were the inspiration for Mucous Membrane; the band was formed after John and friends saw the Pistols live. So it's arguably not surprising that "Anarchy in the U.K." is his jam when he needs something to drown out the Devil's vinyl.
The Ace of Winchesters
That gun Papa Midnite uses -- the one he says never misses? That's the Ace of Winchesters, a magical rifle first introduced in Hellblazer #72 by Garth Ennis and later featured as a major plot point in Ennis's superhero action-comedy Hitman.0comments
The gun has the power to annihilate demons - notable because they are almost impossible to completely destroy otherwise.
At one point in the comics, Constantine and his team stole it from Papa Midnite. As you can imagine, that didn't go over well.