Rake At The Gates Of Hell

Things start off bad and get a hell of a lot worse. Following a raid on the Caligula club with John, Header receives a fatal shotgun wound. As John and Rick mourn the death of their friend, The First Of The Fallen receives a visit from Astra who has apparently risen to become a demoness of hell. Astra has come with a plan to help The First get revenge on Constantine.

Meanwhile John has come across an old girlfriend (Helen) who has since become a whore and a drug addict - he takes it upon himself to help her and with the aid of Chas rescues her from her pimp. Elsewhere, two police officers try to arrest George and in the scuffle that follows, one of them accidentally kills George's mother. George snaps and kills one of the officers before running off.

As tension rises between the police and the local black neighbourhood in which George lives, John gets Nigel to find the fallen Archangel Gabriel for him, using the heart Ellie tore from his chest. John confronts Gabriel and reveals that he plans to lure The First into a trap where Gabriel can take him out. Meanwhile The First is busy putting Astra's plan into fruition - apparently the other two lords of hell aren't actually as powerful as The First and he dispatches both with relative ease. With them out of the way, there's nothing to stop The First going after John's soul.

Taking time out from his other problems, John tries and fails to convince George to back down from the upcoming confrontation with the police. The First meets with The Lord Of The Dance who tries to warn him off Constantine's trail. An angered First beats him to a pulp but leaves him alive. As John learns that Helen's pimp found her and beat her up, The First stalks John's friends.

Rick commits suicide rather than face The First - a fatal error which consigns his soul to hell. Faced with little choice, Rick reveals the location of Gabriel's heart to The First. Seeing the state of Helen after her attack, John asks Chas to get the pimp done in. The First gets his hands on Gabriel's heart and has some fun with the fallen Archangel before consigning him to hell. All hell breaks out in George's neighbourhood as the local populace battle riot police.

Finding Gabriel's heart gone, John goes on the run and seeks solace in a church. An angry, embittered Constantine is confronted by the local priest and John forces him to hear out parts of his tale. The priest seeks to comfort him with the bible but this makes the now drunk Constantine angrier. As they talk, John realises that The First is not yet looking for him so he leaves the church and decides to seek out Nigel. George, meanwhile, is running for his life as one by one his friends are gunned down by the riot police.

Kit returns and for the briefest of moments, all seems right in the world for John Constantine. The two spend one last night together - talking about their lives since they broke up. John makes one last plea - begging her to let him come back to her - swearing to give it all up for her. Kit turns him down though and John realises that she's right to do so. As Kit returns to Northern Ireland, John ventures into the warzone of the Tower Hamlets in a bid to find Nigel. His hopes are dashed when he finds the young man nailed to a table and The First lying in wait for him.

The First gives John back his lung cancer and as John dies before him, the two discuss The First's relationship with God. John remains his sarky self, constantly taunting the devil and refusing to give in. However when Astra appears, John breaks down in tears. As the devil gloats, Astra's form shifts to that of Ellie and she stabs The First in the back. With The First apparently dead we learn that the pages John and Header retrieved from the Caligula club contained the history of the Fallen and that Ellie used these, when disguised as Astra, to get close to The First before her betrayal. Ellie heals John's cancer before the two part company.

As John makes his way home, he stumbles across George and learns that things have quietened down with the police having left the area. Helen does recover though and she thanks John for his help before leaving.

Timeline

1991 : John Contantine is diagnosed as having lung cancer. John manages to trick the three lords of hell into curing him. As a result of his trickery, all three lords now have claim to John's soul - in the event of his death, the three will be forced to wage war on each other.

1994 : Out to get Constantine for tricking him into drinking holy water, the First Of The Fallen learns that he is the one true lord of hell. Armed with this knowledge, he kills the two false lords and sets about getting his revenge on the magus.

Dates taken from Vertigo Secret Files : Hellblazer, written by Michael Bonner
Another of Constantine's victims.

Kit, as ever, puts John back in his place.

The First gives Constantine his lung cancer back.

Ellie betrays The First Of The Fallen.

 
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