"The Magus": The Magus, John Constantine, was born as his mother and brother died. He had wrapped his sickly twin's umbilical cord around his leg, and it had starved to death. Now, the Magus feels haunted by the shade of his sickly brother. As he approaches, he realizes that the one who is evil
- It's not a stable universe, Errol. You need more than one life's experience before you can begin to see the subtle complexities in the patterns of growth and decay. And probably you'd live and die a thousand times to get to be a magus.
- — Zed
Synopsis for "The Magus"
The Magus, John Constantine, was born as his mother and brother died. He had wrapped his sickly twin's umbilical cord around his leg, and it had starved to death. Now, the Magus feels haunted by the shade of his sickly brother. As he approaches, he realizes that the one who is evil is he, not the shade. In a self-righteous act of desperation, the Magus calls out that his brother is most certainly dead. As he does so, a bolt of lightning strikes the lighthouse he keeps as his tower.
Nearby, Zed recruits Benjamin Cox to take her to the tower to see what's happened. They find Errol there with the prone body of Gary Lester, who lives, though he was strung up in the hanged man's position. Nearby is the body of the Magus, apparently dead. They begin to carry his body back to Ravenscar. Errol comments that his granddaughter - the child of Mercury's son - is meant to be having twins today, and she may not live. The father is nowhere to be found. It is thought that the Magus is the father.
With the Magus' body lain out on a slab, Marj asks Gary to sing them a song in his honour. Gary sings of how John Constantine was born in 1953 and raised by his father Thomas as a golden boy. John had grown to study the occult, but his interests and aptitude for it led his friends and family to fear him. He left home in 1968, and studied in mystery for years. He met Gary in 1975, and together they attended the Newcastle incident, where John lost his arm, but managed to save Astra from her demons without any loss to his crew. In the 80s, he tutored the Swamp Thing and fought with Nergal. In the 90s, John faced the earth's own ire, and calmed it using the magic of the Pagan Nation. They took up residence in Ravenscar Secure Hospital, and converted it to a type of monastery. Now those remaining will have to carry on the faith and the mystical designs of their lost Magus.
Suddenly, the Magus wakes. He has some confusion, having allowed his consciousness to mingle with that of his sickly shadow. Grumpily, the Magus sends his followers away, except for Zed. Zed wonders if there is any significance to the birth of these twins, but his answer is vague. John wishes to confess his arrogance. For some time, things have not felt right at Ravenscar. He had reached out to find the break in their defences, but discovered with some dismay that the chink in the armour was he. Not he himself, but another version of him, one that he had banished to oblivion long ago - the twin brother he had murdered in the womb. The magus had grown up feeling responsible for his twin's death; for having chosen his own survival over his sickly brother's. He was simply too proud to admit his guilt to himself. When he had tried to banish his guilt with magic, it had rebounded on him with twice the force.
The Magus declares that it is now his time to make amends; to fix the wrongness that now pervades. He warns Zed that he will be leaving, and will not likely return. With him gone, he hopes the nightmare his followers have been forced to live in his presence will fade, and their dreams will take their own forms.
In meditation, the Magus engulfs himself in the life that his sickly shadow might have lived. The monsters, the lost friends, the failures - all of these are his responsibility. The Magus is surprised to meet his sickly shadow there. This John Constantine explains that he has been waiting nearly forty years for the Magus to arrive. The Magus assumes that his shadow has come to take revenge for having its life cut short, but John makes it clear that they are both at fault. They are brothers; twins. Each killed the other in the womb, and both have been haunted by guilt of the other's loss.
They are now in a kind of nexus. It is a place where each of the infinite strands of time are played out. Numerous Constantines have come to this place and battled for existence. But it isn't the Magus who is right, and it isn't John who is the injured one. They are two halves of the same problem. They agree that somehow uniting their two opposites is the best outcome. They take each other's hands and spin around, toward the light of a new existence.
Errol bursts into Zed's cabin and asks whether she has seen John. He had been standing watch while John took psychedelics and went off to the caves under the ruined towers. The next morning, he had gone to investigate, and found only John's footprints going in, his clothes and a tarot card showing the hanged man. They spend the day searching the camp for John, but there's no sign of him. Errol and Mercury decide to go to the caves to investigate. On the way, Mercury mentions that she had a dream that she and Errol had had a child together, and that child was having twins; one black, and one white.
At the cave, they can find nothing but a pile of rocks. John's footprints appear to be leading out from under it. Errol is confused, because the cave he visited that morning is nowhere to be found. The footprints lead to a stone slab, from which John's coat hangs. On the stone is carved an epitaph for John Constantine. Nobody understands what's happened.
Zed notices a tarot card in the sand nearby. It is the Magus card. She comments that one would probably have to live and die a thousand times in order to get to be a magus.
Appearing in "The Magus"
- John Constantine (Apparent Death)
- Nergal (Flashback only)
- Benjamin Cox (In dream sequence only)
- Gary Lester (In dream sequence only)
- Swamp Thing (Flashback only)
- Thomas Constantine (Flashback only)
- This is the final issue of Jamie Delano's extended run on Hellblazer. It is also the last issue edited by Karen Berger.
- John's epitaph reads "From Womb to Tomb and Back Again, the Journey Wobbles On."