Friday, December 3, 2010

1989 Mayfair Games DC Heroes John Constantine Character Card

It struck me while looking at The Irredeemable Shag's Mayfair Box Set Retrospective how well each reflected their tumultuous times. The 1985 edition had a convoluted George Pérez cover simultaneously referencing his best-selling New Teen Titans and his transitioning into Crisis On Infinite Earths plus nods to the still newish Brainiac redesign and the Super Powers Collection (with the Joker's giant whacking hammer.) Get inside, and it's all kid/licensing friendly pastel blues and José Luis García-López stock art. Jump to 1993, and instead of a boxed set, Mayfair offered up a foil enhanced cover on a rejiggering of their standard player's manual by one of the few fan favorite artists DC still had in their stable. The only way it could have been more 1993 is if Dan Jurgens had drawn it instead of Kevin Maguire.

Right there in the middle was the 1989 box. A simple, iconic, sophisticated cover design with a spot varnish, just in time to capture the new "maturity" of super-hero comics in Moore & Miller's wake, not to mention a bid for mass audience acceptance coming of Tim Burton's Batman. Inside were all these businesslike charts and guides in fluorescent colors, like Gordon Gekko's business prospectus. Mingling with the long underwear types were the Watchmen, Sgt. Rock, Blackhawk, all those gun-toting Suicide Squaders, and an assortment of pre-Vertigo icons like Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Alan Moore's Hellblazer. Strange, transitional times-- like those few years rap, rock, and pop were allowed to co-mingle before they were forcibly segregated by the grunge explosion.

So here's a rather haggard and comic-booky John Constantine, really embracing the paleness associated with enhancing scans of twenty year old cardboard through digital contrasting, just like a proper limey. You might not think much of John's stats if you focus on the physical, as he's a normal man of middle age. However, that intelligence of 11 is a genius intellect one point below Batman's, and his Charisma of 10 is equal to Lex Luthor (but with 4 points more Will.) Think about that for a second. John can manipulate Lex Luthor.  On top of that, he's a twelfth level Occultist, which means he can identify, construct and manipulate all sorts of mystical artifacts, cast ritualistic spells, jack with other people's magic, receive premonitions... I can't even begin to summarize what he can do, because it takes a whole other sorcerous sourcebook I don't own to work it all out. Plus, if Constantine can't do something, his Omni-Connection and charm can almost guarantee he can find and con someone into doing it for him. Plus, they can't even avoid him, because his Initiative of 25 gives him the drop on most characters outside the omniscient or upper echelon in publishing prominence. John Constantine is such a magnificent bastard.

Belated thanks to Tom Hartley, whose offering of a batch of about 30 character card scans was the taste I needed to seek more. He then sold his box set for a very reasonable price to a poor student to facilitate this crossover, because I just had to scan them all for myself.


LissBirds said...

And to top it all off, he's Attractive, too? Magnificent bastard indeed.

I'm having a lot of fun keeping score of who's listed as attractive and who isn't.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Frank - A truly insightful analysis of the three different editions and the eras they were published in. Well done! I'd never looked at it that way before.

I always thought the inclusion of the magic characters in the 1989 box set was odd. Even though Vertigo hadn't been created yet, as a reader I could just tell these characters didn't belong in the same shared sandbox. While they could co-exist in the universe, we really didn't need statistics to compare who would win an arm-wrestling match - Robin or John Constantine.

Again, thanks so much for coordinating this crossover. It's a hoot!

The Irredeemable Shag