At war with the mystics: Constantine vs. Trese

Considering how common stories about malevolent ghosts and devil are, it’s a miracle our world has been overrun by paranormal forces. It’s a provocative thought, which is probably why we have so many stories about heroes who demon-slay and ghostbust to keep the peace.

So in the spirit of celebrating all the things that go bump in the night and the heroes who keep them at bay, we decided to pit two of graphic fiction’s grittiest paranormal investigators in a contest of competence: Constantine, the wise-cracking warlock of London, and Alexandra Trese, the mandirigmang-babaylan of Manila.

Round 1: Powers and Abilities

On their own, both possess magical abilities needed for mystery-solving, like scrying and interviewing ghosts. In terms of fighting ability though, Trese’s incredibly proficient in both hand-to-hand combat and knife-fighting, while Constantine has a vast arsenal of spells he can turn to for self-defense, which include pyromancy, necromancy, and mind manipulation.

Winner: Constantine. Trese may have the edge in melee combat, but Constantine comes out on top in terms of raw magical power.

Round 2: Cunning

Y’know how most superheroes are all punch-first-ask-questions-later? You can’t afford to be belligerent when you’re dealing with the paranormal. Constantine avoids fights when he can, instead using trickery to outsmart his opponents. Trese, however, is a diplomat, tasked with maintaining harmony between the human world and the magical underworld, which usually means getting on the good side of powerful authority figures, from elemental deities to old money families.

Winner: Trese. Constantine is certainly smart enough to get out of trouble at one point he sells his souls to multiple demons to cheat death but has an awful habit of leaving places messier than when he got there. Trese plays peacemaker, which gives her the double burden of staying out of trouble and maintaining gainful relationships at the same time. Cunning isn’t just an issue of IQ, but EQ as well.

Round 3: Equipment

Both have coats imbued with protective magic. Trese is a proprietor of a nightclub called The Diabolical, while Constantine possesses the House of Mystery, a sentient, self-repairing house than can travel through time and space, because magic, duh. Trese has a knife imbued with the energy of her dead twin’s soul, Constantine possesses The Twin Blade, which can kill anything. Kind of unfair.

Winner: Constantine. Unlike the straight-laced Trese who prefers to stay in Manila, Constantine gambles and often has to travel, which means he’s more likely to have a crap ton of cool souvenirs.

Round 4: Allies

Trese has a lot of friends and family but is most often accompanied by the Kambal, gun-toting twin brothers with the strength of war gods. Constantine prefers to work alone, but is on okay terms with the Swamp Thing (I guess? It’s complicated) and at one point in Justice League Dark, he teamed up with the actual Batman, which on its own is super impressive.

The winner: Trese. Constantine can’t keep friends long enough to have any consistent allies. Trese utilizes her scattered network of contacts — which include the captain of police, a clairvoyant who can see through the eyes of cats, an extremely fast tikbalang, and a Santelmo which she can summon WITH HER PHONE — almost like a unified squad. This one goes to the team leader.

Round 5: Grit

Fun fact: Trese was inspired by Constantine, which is evident in their anti-hero treatments. Both have dead twin siblings. Both have lost loved ones in the process of trying to do good. Both are rough around the edges with good hearts, which is why we love ‘em.

The winner: It’s a tie. Constantine has the distinction of having magically gotten rid of his childhood innocence, but otherwise both heroes had to grow the eff up real fast, all while believing in fighting on the side of good. How do they do it? I have one bad day at work and I get the urge to throw rocks at cars.

And the winner is… us.

Or well… you know what I mean. No one comes out on top here but the real winners are the people they protect. How many times has the apocalypse been diverted because a savvy magician outsmarted an elemental force as old as time? Happy Halloween. You’re alive.

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