Writer : Jamie Delano
Art : John Ridgway
Art : Alfredo Alcala
Cover Artist : Dave McKean
: Lovern Kindzierski
Letters : John Costanza
: Karen Berger
Synopsis : Somewhere in a Glastonbury church, a young girl called Mary watches the snow fall across Britain.
She dimly remembers another time, when she called herself Zed and chose her own destiny. But
those days are gone, as is her will to disobey. She follows Elder Martin, her father and
superior, into a hall filled with Resurrection Crusaders all rapturously watching a preacher. As
the preacher decries the world's acceptance of liberal mores and descent into violence, Mary is
baptised and bows down before the congregation. The preacher tells them that humanity cannot
wait for Armageddon any longer, that the Crusaders must prove to God that they are ready and
willing to face The End, and that Mary will be the vessel through which God will come back to
them. To a chorus of Hallelujahs, the crowd raise Mary above their heads and carry her through
the chapel doors, down to a basement where sinister surgeons prepare to operate...
John Constantine opens his eyes to find himself in a tiny, cramped jail cell. As he desperately tries to figure out what's happening, footsteps outside his door tell him that he has company. He curls up foetally in a corner as the
door opens to reveal two guards, haloed by a blinding light. Spitting insults, they drag
Constantine out of his cell and into a prison corridor. The air is filled with screams as baying
prisoners reach out of their cells, clawing at the air in an attempt to grab Constantine and rip
him apart. The guards push John down into a seculded cellar where they chain him to a pipe,
telling him that he is to be punished for what he did to a little girl in Newcastle.
Unable to defend himself, John can only watch in horror as they bring out a pair of
John's eyes peel open once again and he now finds himself strapped to a hospital bed with two
wires taped to his head, and a portly man with glasses stood beside him. John asks the man - one
Dr. "Piggy" Huntoon - what he's doing there. Huntoon replies that his job is to cure John of his
insanity, to drive from him the delusions that have gripped him ever since Newcastle.
Constantine has a vision of a little girl transforming into a grotesque demon and tries to
explain to Huntoon what had happened - something about Gary Lester's cowardice leading to the
possessed girl's death. Huntoon, unimpressed with Constantine's mad babble, prepares to apply
electroshock therapy. As the first terrible bolt of electricity crackles down Constantine's
spine, he wakes again.
Once again he is in a hospital bed, but this time his body is encased in plaster and bandages,
with tubes and metal bars of varying descriptions protruding from all parts of his body. He
gingerly recalls how he got into this situation: after Richie Simpson's death,
John found himself haunted once again by the ghosts of the Newcastle Crew. Suffering a panic
attack, John made for the nearest door - forgetting that he was on a train travelling at tens of
miles an hour. As he slipped into unconsciousness, Swamp Thing appeared to him and moved his
shattered body to safety. Constantine looks around the room (at least, as much as his fractured
neck will allow him) and realises that he's being guarded by a policeman who sleeps on a nearby
chair. John hears a doctor approach but decides that he's not up to police interrogation just yet, and pretends to sleep.
This proves to be a mistake, as the doctor takes advantage of Constantine's unconsciousness by killing the policeman and
taking on his true form - that of Nergal, the demonic mastermind behind The Damnation Army.
John's attempt to play possum is foiled when the demon's grotesque prehensile tongue parts his
lips and enters his mouth. A revolted John opens his eyes and tells Nergal that he never kisses
anyone he hasn't been introduced to. Nergal feigns disappointment that John doesn't remember the
phonecall in which he offered a place
in the Damnation Army. Constantine turns him down flat, but Nergal tells the
magus that John will be doing his bidding whether he wants to or not. Constantine points out
that Nergal's turned up a little too late to break his bones, but the demon explains that his
intention was never to torture Constantine - after all, he needs the magus in full working order
to bring down the Resurrection Crusade. John says that he has no reason to work with the
demon, so Nergal offers him a couple: Ray's murder, and Zed's kidnapping. John's horrified to
learn of these events, but still refuses to acquiesce, until Nergal threatens to devour the
infants in the Maternity Ward below.
Now that he has John's full attention, Nergal begins his story: for millennia the war between
Heaven and Hell had been locked in stalemate, until a group of humans known as the Brujera
began a civil war in Hell (see Alan Moore's Swamp Thing TPB "A Murder of Crows"). With the enemy
busy destroying itself, Heaven made moves on Earth. The result of this was the creation of the Resurrection Crusade.
However, the Crusade itself is only one part of a larger plot: a stone discovered in
Hell tells of a healing power that is to be concieved on the Winter solstice. Heaven hopes to
couple a an angel with a human from the Crusade, thus creating a new Messiah. The Crusade's base of operations is
too heavily guarded for even Nergal to enter, so the demon wants to use Constantine as a way of
buggering up their plans.
Constantine, realising that Nergal has him over a barrel, agrees. Nergal slips some of his blood
into Constantine's IV drip, and after a few minutes' agony his wounds are fully repaired. Nergal
warns John of the dangers of betraying him, then takes his leave. With the adrenaline rush of
pure evil pumping in his heart, Constantine makes a dramatic leap out of the hospital's window
and flees to the big city. But by the time he's back on London's streets, the rush has gone.
Realising the dire situation he's found himself in, Constantine lights up a cigarette and heads
Issue synopsis written by James Wilkinson