Visits to comic book shops sometimes pay unexpected dividends. Like free postcards advertising an interesting book or crossover series, or even the occasional movie poster. One day I picked up this cardboard print advertising the TV series Constantine. It's based on the DC comic of the same name, which enjoyed tremendous popularity in previous decades under the title Hellblazer. As the title suggests, this is a story delving into dark themes, and concerns battles involving the supernatural.
I also bought a comic that contained two stories, one from the new title, and an earlier Hellblazer. In both, John Constantine uses his knowledge of the occult to fight evil. These stories and the poster led me to watch the show.
At their best, the episodes highlight the importance of respecting the supernatural. And there's a lot to like. There's an angel that periodically advises him. There are all the artifacts from his previous adventures, and the books he has studied to gain his mastery of the occult. John knows which supernatural forces inhabit particular geographic and cultural situations, as exemplified when he encounters Coblynau spirits in a Welsh mining town in Pennsylvania. In the same episode, he also recites a prayer to reveal whether a former pastor is human, or a spirit in disguise. When the pastor begins reciting it with him, and identifies the prayer as St. Patrick's Breastplate, John knows that he can trust the man, and perhaps rely on him to help combat the forces killing those working in the mines. It became a nice story about redemption and reclaiming one's faith, when the pastor takes up his calling again, and reopens his church at the end of the episode.
Incidentally, the name of the pastor's church was St. Asaph. There's a town named after this sixth century Christian bishop and saint, and we probably drove past it unaware on our visit to Wales a couple years ago. As it happened, we spent a weekend in Llandudno, a mere twenty-five minute drive from St. Asaph, and could have visited the town, had Constantine been on the TV at that time.
Llandudno is a charming seaside resort, one we'd revisit in a heart beat.
If we venture back that way in the future, perhaps we can add St. Asaph to our itinerary.
Incidentally, I found Saint Patrick's Breastplate a really uplifting prayer. Like me, most Christians have prayed one small portion of it at one time or another in worship services, but are probably unfamiliar with it. It's worth reading in its entirety, for those of you so inclined.
Related Internet Links
The St Patrick's Breastplate prayer