The Sandman’s Johanna Constantine Is More Than a Gender Swap

There’s a lot to like within the new adaptation of The Sandman on Netflix: the virtually excellent casting of Tom Sturridge as Dream, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death and Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer. The beautiful, dreamlike visuals. Baby gargoyle “Girving.” (Protect him in any respect prices.) But nothing captured my creativeness like Johanna Constantine, performed by Jenna Coleman.

Polished and unflappable, with a spotless cream-colored trench coat and never a hair misplaced, Johanna Constantine immediately makes an impression—one which’s purposely the alternative of John Constantine. Naturally, as Constantines, they do share some traits. They each harbor predilections for the occult and getting in over their heads, for instance. But it will be a disservice to easily deem Johanna a “gender-swapped John” and go away it at that. Johanna Constantine is her personal character, one which’s begging for extra tales to be instructed about her.

Johanna is the main target of the third episode of The Sandman, “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” As Dream searches for his stolen implements, his quest takes him to the final particular person identified to have his mystical sand: Johanna Constantine. The episode begins with a flashback within the type of her nightmare, about a demon summoning gone awry at a membership. (Did you see that “Muchas Membrane” live performance poster on the wall, a wink to John Constantine’s punk band?) Johanna approaches an eerily glowing door with out worry, with out trembling, however with possibly a tiny little bit of annoyance. That cemented it—I used to be immediately enamored.

She wakes up, shakes off the reminiscence and will get prepared for the following nightmare—a waking one which entails a demon and a princess. All in a day’s work for a fashionable occultist. As Johanna strides towards her vacation spot, her wry smile doesn’t waver, not even when she comes head to head with Dream of the Endless. And walks proper on previous him.

Love. Her.

Johanna is doing a job for a clergywoman named Erica, AKA “Ric the Vic,” one other coolheaded character I wouldn’t thoughts seeing extra of. Ric the Vic is aware of a demon possession when she sees one and hires Johanna for the exorcism. The artistic cussing that these two drop in the course of a church is beautiful and Ric doesn’t blink a watch, from both the curse phrases or the possession. Yep, one other on the spot new fave.

So, lengthy story brief, Johanna finishes the exorcism regardless of Dream’s instructions to cease so he can get info from the demon. She doesn’t hear. Whether she’s confronting a demon or one of many Endless, the girl is unshakeable. And, most of all, she desires to receives a commission. Johanna Constantine is shrewd to the purpose of seeming coldhearted, however that devil-may-care angle belies her compassion. Her masks slips later as she wakes after the top of her memory-turned-nightmare of the Casanova Club, the shock and remorse plainly exhibiting in her eyes.

Dream guarantees to take the nightmare from her if she helps him retrieve his sand. She searches her matted workplace—maybe Johanna does share a messy trait or two with John in spite of everything—and a picture jogs her reminiscence of the place the lacking sand is. It’s within the possession of her ex-girlfriend, whom she abruptly left with out a phrase.

“Why?” Dream asks.               

“It never ends well, does it,” Johanna responds.

She prefers to be alone. The folks round her typically get harm, whether or not by Johanna’s work or Johanna herself, and he or she’s discovered to maintain her distance from these she cares for. It’s not a widespread attribute for girls in popular culture, and it provides one other layer of complexity to the seemingly reckless occultist. 

Johanna’s standoffish and cynical nature makes her a Constantine, completely, nevertheless it additionally makes her a refreshing feminine character. While parts of their previous are related, that is her historical past, not John’s, and her selections ready to be made. She’s strolling her personal path on this Sandman universe. Who is aware of how else it would diverge from his?

Simply calling Johanna a “gender-swapped John” or a “female version of John” too simply dismisses considered one of The Sandman’s standout characters. She’s Johanna Constantine, and he or she’s fascinating. She’s crass. She’s pragmatic. She’s Constantine. And we want extra of her.
 

The Sandman, starring Tom Sturridge as Morpheus, is now streaming on Netflix. For extra desires, fables and recollections, go to our official Sandman TV web page.

Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing may also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and extra. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to speak superheroes, comics and popular culture.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of Kelly Knox and don’t essentially replicate these of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.

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