Name : Chas
First Appearance : Hellblazer #1, Hunger
Last Appearance : Hellblazer #204, Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3 of 4)
Who is he ?
Born Frank William Chandler, but nicknamed Chas after Chas Chandler – the producer of Jimi Hendrix's first two albums - Chas has the distinction of being John's longest surviving friend.
The roots of their friendship can be traced back to the late sixties, when a sixteen year old John Constantine arrived on the streets of London for the second time in his young life, with nothing to his name but an overly sarcastic sense of humour and a half-empty pack of Silk Cut cigarettes. Eager to get a cheap roof over his head, John lept at the chance to move in with his new-found mate, even if he did live with his mother. John's housewarming consisted of a tense meeting with Chas' obese mother Queenie and her vile monkey familiar Slag.
Unable to put up with his miserable existence at the hands of his mother and her simian familiar, Chas broke down and told John all about his pitiful life – revealing how Slag appeared on the scene shortly after his brother was hanged and his mother killed his father. A dabbler in petty magics, Queenie made her wage by holding the occasional séance and the like. Chas' real problems came from Slag, the chimpanzee delighted in ruining his life, using her obnoxious body odor to great effect in alienating him from his mates as well as putting paid to what was already a pretty pathetic love life.
Constantine, being Constantine, decided to get involved – he seduced Slag, conning the monkey into thinking that he loved her so he could lure her down to the docks, where he drowned her. Aware of the symbiotic link that existed between Witch and Familiar, John knew that by killing Slag he'd be killing Queenie too. It was this one act which has behooved Chas to Constantine for over thirty long years – though truth to tell it's their deeply held sense of respect and friendship that has seen them willingly face all kinds of stark raving lunacy to help other out.
With this unusual debt serving as a backdrop, Chas has become John's oldest and closest friend. The pair seemingly take turns at pulling each other's arse out of the fire, with Chas providing the muscle and Consantine the brains. Chas has gone on to become a taxi-driver by trade and often finds himself being co-erced into being John's "wheels" for whatever escapade he currently finds himself involved in. Constantine's determination to keep his fried protected from the weirder aspects of his life has often led to a frustrated Chas berating the magus for keeping him in the dark whilst at the same time demanding his help.
Chas is married to Renee, an imposing woman who seems to spend the bulk of her time reprimanding her poor beleaguered husband, usually for some problem whose roots can be traced back to Constantine. They have an adult daughter Geraldine who in turn has a daughter of her own, Trish.
The pair often part on angry terms but one quick pint and a customary Constantine quip later and their friendship tends to get right back on track.
1990 : On the trail of the serial killing "Family Man", John returns to London and takes up temporary residence in a betting shop currently being run by Chas. On edge, Constantine nearly kills his friend, mistaking him for his quarry. An angered Chas demands to know the reasons behind John's jumpiness and after much wearing down, Constantine concedes and enlists the aid of his oldest friend.
After receiving a visit from the Family man in person, Chas manages to procure a gun for John and sets him up with his cousin Norma, a hooker by trade, who John uses as a kind of human shield whilst preparing for his final confrontation with the murderer. Chas passes on a postcard from the Family Man which reveals that Constantine's father has become his latest victim. Driven by the fear that Cheryl and Gemma may be next, John confronts the aging killer and shoots him dead. ( Hellblazer #30 )
1991 : When Chas decides to visit his Uncle Tom, a bored Constantine tags along. Unfortunately the pair find that Chas's uncle has shuffled off his mortal coil after suffering a heart attack. A distraught Chas retreats to the pub and after getting well and truly wasted he turns to Constantine for confirmation that his uncle has gone to a better place (because John "knows the truth - not that bollocks the vicars an' all tell us"). Biting his tongue, Constantine offers the assurances his friend seeks.
But things take a turn for the worse when they stumble across several men trying to steal Chas's uncle's body from his new grave, before being beaten up, they learn that a nearby arms plant is using corpses to test ammunition on. With Chas in toe, Constantine visits the plant and learns that the ruthless destruction of the corpses also results in the death of their souls, painting Constantine as a liar in Chas's eyes (for promising that his uncle will have gone to a better place). These thoughts remain unspoken though and when Constantine manages to free the bound souls the pair remain close friends. ( Hellblazer #57-58 )
1993 : Following the events of Fear And Loathing, Constantine struggles to come to terms with Kit's return to Northern Ireland. Drunk and lost in self pity, Constantine flies into a rage when mocked by several nearby teenagers, when the landlord takes offence at his behavior, John is saved from a beating by the timely arrival of Chas. After a brief exchange of harsh words with the landlord, Chas receives a black eye for his efforts and helps his friend home.
Chas tries to sympathise with Constantine but John is too far lost in alcohol and self pity to act with any kind of rationality. Losing his temper, Constantine hurls verbal abuse at the stunned Chas, who quickly snaps himself, administering a quick kicking to his drunk friend before leaving him passed out on the bathroom floor. ( Hellblazer #67 )
1994 : In the wake of his fight with Constantine, Chas hasn't seen the errant mage is several months but this doesn't stop him from making use of his known association with John. Whilst spending the evening in his local watering hole with some of his friends, Chas recants one of his favourite Constantine stories.
When the girlfriend of the old Mucous Membrane Drummer phones John and tells him that her boyfriend is about to OD on smack, Constantine ropes Chas into giving him a lift to the scene of the impending death. Inside they find a horrifying ghostly image constantly replaying in the basement of the house - that of a father strangling his daughter. When Constantine tries to perform an exorcism it appears to go wrong and John's body is nowhere to be found. In true Constantine manner though, John manages to gate crash his own funeral, apparently none the worse for ware.
As Chas finishes his tale, John himself shows up in the pub and following a brief exchange of words, the pair resume their odd friendship as if nothing has happened. ( Hellblazer #77 )
1998 : Enjoying an unusually quiet evening, Constantine receives a rude interruption in the form of a panicked, gun totting, Chas. Having gotten into dept with a notorious money lender, Chas was forced to act as driver for a gangland shooting or face certain death. Events quickly spiral out of control when Chas seeks the aid of Constantine with the police hot on his trail.
Things take a turn for the occult when Chas's stupidity mixes with a hidden secret from Constantine's past involving a summoned demon trapped in the body of a young boy. It isn't long before the pair are involved in a plot to bring about the satanic equivalent of the birth of christ. Only a turn of fortune and some quick thinking by Constantine lead to it's timely aversion. ( Hellblazer #129-133 )
(Above Dates taken from Vertigo Secret Files : Hellblazer, written by Michael Bonner. Text by me.)
2002 : With John on the trail of his missing niece, Chas once again finds himself driving his best mate around London. ( Hellblazer #177 )
2003 : Two Lukhavim (monsters made from dead souls) invade Chas' home and hold his wife and niece hostage. Eager to learn the whereabouts of Chas' best mate John Constantine, they leave the hapless Taxi driver with little choice but to lead them to their prey. Constantine doesn't hold a grudge but Chas' wife is less than forgiving and doesn't want her husband to have anything more to do with the Magus. ( Hellblazer #181 )
2004 : A mysterious illness sweeps across the globe, leaving a host of comatose victims in its wake. When Chas' niece is brought low by the disease, Constantine steps in to investigate the strange goings on. A trip Stateside to LA sees the pair getting involved with ancient death Gods and a demon's plan to open a string of franchised Hells on Earth, as well as affording Chas the chance to 'play away from home'. With his granddaughter returned to full health, Chas is forced to turn his back on his new found love and return to his life of misery with Reenie in London. ( Hellblazer : All His Engines OGN )
2004 : An ill-timed holiday jaunt to the seaside (in the middle of November!) sees the family Chandler caught up in a deadly game being waged between a psychotic killer and an amnesia suffering Constantine. A desperate gambit involving Chas' young granddaughter gives John the edge over their tormentor. ( Hellblazer #196 )
2005 : John Constantine's illegitimate children wreck havoc on their father's friends and family. An unknown ally of Johns possesses Chas' body. ( Hellblazer #202-205 )
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