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"The Devil You Know": While the demon Nergal searches high and low for John Constantine, John has hidden himself in the very place where he first encountered the demon: Newcastle. After a week holed up in a trailer, Jo

Quote1.png We have to turn inwards. Enter the siege perilous-- and wrestle. It's not those grotesque, tired institutions of heaven and hell that are the problem-- it's the devils we know. Quote2.png
John Constantine

Hellblazer #12 is an issue of the series Hellblazer (Volume 1) with a cover date of December, 1988.

Synopsis for "The Devil You Know"

While the demon Nergal searches high and low for John Constantine, John has hidden himself in the very place where he first encountered the demon: Newcastle. After a week holed up in a trailer, John still has found no information that can help him fight the demon. Now, the taint of Nergal's blood is having the effect that John's body is dying.

Searching in his coat for a cigarette, John finds his gas bill. However, the bill is for £20,000. The high number draws his attention to a message written on the bill which says "Constantine, you treacherous bastard. I can get into your bank account too. Phone this number - pronto." It is signed R.S. John realizes suddenly that his friend Ritchie Simpson may still be alive, albeit trapped in cyberspace.

Excitedly, John calls the number, and hears his friend's voice again. Finally, John explains that the reason he couldn't let Ritchie come back after he got too close to the Tongues of Fire's databases was because Ritchie's body was destroyed. John agrees to help his friend get back to reality.

Meanwhile, Nergal recieves warning from Agony and Ecstacy that he has only until dawn to collect Constantine's soul. Hell does not suffer failure lightly, and even a duke of mendacity like Nergal is not given special treatment by the triumvirate.

Ritchie has some special computer equipment delivered to John's location, and after it is all set up, he projects himself into cyberspace so that he can talk to Ritchie face to face. John explains that he has tracked down the demon they encountered in the Newcastle incident ten years ago, and he's figured out a way to stop him. In exchange for Ritchie's help, John promises to find his friend a body.

Agony and Ecstacy return to collect Nergal, after he failed to find Constantine by morning. Three times, John has bested Hell's demons, and in accordance with the laws, he is no longer their concern. However, the losses must not go unpunished, and Nergal must pay. Suddenly, though, Nergal receives a message from John, challenging him to fight in Newcastle. Agony and Ecstacy agree to let him fight in the challenge, and reserve their judgments for the loser.

Nergal appears in John's trailer, and threateningly stands over the Englishman. However, he soon realizes that the soul inhabiting John Constantine's body is not that of John Constantine. John is still in cyberspace, and Ritchie is now in control of his body. Taunting his quarry, John coaxes Nergal into entering cyberspace himself.

The demon begins chasing John through cybserspace. John follows a red path laid out by Ritchie, and as Nergal closes in, they approach their destination. Finally, John calls on Ritchie to make his move. Nergal is suddenly horrified to discover that he has been brought to the edge of Heaven. That is what the Tongues of Fire were protecting. The effect of Heaven's light utterly destroys Nergal's soul, while John is left unscathed.

John calls back to Ritchie to have his friend help him get back to his body, but Ritchie has other plans. He refuses to return to cyberspace, and plans to snatch John's body. He has, however, left Nergal's body unplugged from the machine, so that it lays empty. Thinking quick, John reminds Ritchie that his body has been affected by the demon's taint, and he has mere days left to live. He convinces Ritchie to enter the demon's body, and return his own body to him.

However, the demon's body has a strange effect, and Ritchie is given phenomenal powers. Before long, though, Agony and Ecstacy return. They concede defeat to John, pointing out that despite his temporary victory, they will come for him one day. Ritchie, meanwhile, cannot be allowed to roam free in a demon's body. Instead, they take him away to be trained to use his powers in purgatory for ten thousand years.

Afterwards, John feels great. The weight on his shoulders from ten years of guilt for what happened in Newcastle is lifted, and all that lies ahead is the future. Now, there are more important things to face than angels and demons. The real problem is in the devils we know.

Appearing in "The Devil You Know"

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  • The Satanic Triumvirate is mentioned in this issue, ahead of its first appearance in The Sandman #4.
    • Interestingly, Agony and Ecstacy mention that Belial, the father of Etrigan, is a member of the Triumvirate, even though the Triumvate in Sandman #4 features Azazel instead of Belial.

See Also

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