Newcastle. Mention it to most people nowadays and they'll think of Newcastle brown ale and the
football team. Mention it to John Constantine, however, and you're likely to receive either a stone
cold stare or a bitter retort and a quick change of subject. What happened at Newcastle forever changed John's
life and set him down the damned road he still walks today.
It happened back in 1978. Back then John didn't work alone - a motley crew of like minded would be exorcists
followed his lead - a course of action that would eventually lead them all to their deaths. Hearing tell of strange
events in Newcastle, John and crew decided to check out the Casanova Club. The club's owner, Alex Logue, was a known
'sex and drugs magician'. After finding a gruesome horde of dismembered bodies in Alex's "Chapel" (a room in the basement of the club that Alex used for orgies), John and
company stumbled across Alex's daughter, Astra, dancing to the horrific recorded
sounds of the unfortunates in the basement meeting their end.
Learning that a terror elemental is responsible for the scene in the basement, John decides to summon a demon to kill it. This course of action
shocks his team mates and several of his would be friends opt to play no part in it. As they discussed John's plan, one of the group - a young boy
named Benjamin (in John's words - "the spooky twelve year old genius and encyclopedia of Arcana") wandered back into the basement to take pictures -
alone he was set upon by the demon and raped (the demon taking the form of a large dog like creature). Working together and with the aid of a sawn off
shotgun, they manage to save their team mate from meeting the same faith as the clubs previous inhabitants.
John's plan to "fight fire with fire" met with disastrous failure - although he successfully summoned a demon, he misnamed it thus freeing it from his (John's) control. As a result of this mistake, one
of John's group was horribly scarred and Astra's soul was consigned to hell. John himself barely managed to escape with his life - though he later spent time in
Ravenscar, consigned there for what the authorities believed to be his part in Astra's murder. The demon John summoned
was actually named Nergal. The pair would encounter each other once again when John battled the forces of the Damnation Army, a cult of hell that just so happened to be led by Nergal.
1978 : John Contantine accidentally summons the demon Nergal in a bid to combat a terror elemental that haunts the
Casanova club. Constantine's mistake confines young Astra Logue's soul to the hell and results in John being confined to the
Ravenscar mental hospital.
1980 : Thanks to the efforts of East End crime boss Harry Cooper, John Constantine is released from Ravenscar. Harry, of course,
had his own plans for the English magus.
1985 : Four of those who walked away from the Newcastle incident - Ben Cox, Frank North, Judith and Anne-Marie - met their end at the hands of the Brujeria, a mysterious cult that sought to bring about the end of the
world. With the aid of the Swamp Thing and a select host of other magical types, Constantine twarted the Brujeria's plan.
1988 : After his niece is kidnapped, Constantine becomes involved in the war between the Damnation Army and the
Resurrection Crusade. With the help of the last surviving member of the "Newcastle Gang", Richie Simpson, John destroys the leader of
the Damnation Army - Nergal. Richie in turn becomes a new kind of technological demon who is dragged into the depths of hell.
1995 : John Constantine finally manages to free Astra's soul from hell after a confrontation with the demon Buer.
Dates taken from Vertigo Secret Files : Hellblazer, written by Michael Bonner
John Constantine and friends prepare to enter the Casanova Club, unaware of what awaits them within.
Constantine on the verge of making the biggest mistake of his life.
The demon Nergal.