Who is Johanna Constantine in Netflix’s ‘The Sandman?’

The Sandman
Image via Netflix

One of the most hotly anticipated new series coming to Netflix this year is almost here. Over three decades on from its beginning in the pages of DC Comics, The Sandman finally brings the titular Dream of the Endless to live-action, much to the excitement of fans of the legendary comic book saga. Though Morpheus, Lord of The Dreaming, is the central protagonist, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman universe is a vast and sprawling place that’s home to immortals, mortals, angels, demons, and much else besides, so the TV show is set to feature a star-studded ensemble cast of standout characters.

Among them is Johanna Constantine, a minor player from the source material who’s been bumped up to a major role in the small-screen adaptation. Doctor Who and Victoria actress Jenna Coleman is set to portray the anti-heroine, who DC lovers might not be familiar with, even if her surname instantly rings bells. Yes, Johanna is a relative of the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine, with his female counterpart taking over the part he plays in the original comics.

But who is Johanna Constantine, how does she fit into The Sandman‘s story, and who is she in the comics? Here’s everything you need to know.

Who is Johanna Constantine in The Sandman?

The character has been shrouded in secrecy throughout The Sandman‘s development, but the show’s panel at Netflix’s Geeked Week finally revealed our first look at Johanna, both in her own character poster (seen in the gallery above) and in a sneak peek image featuring her talking with Tom Sturridge’s Dream (which you can check out below). In addition, Coleman and the series’ creators shed some light on what we can expect from Jenna’s Johanna.

“Jenna brought this glorious, heartbroken, wounded, bitter sass to it,” writer and executive producer Gaiman said while explaining why Coleman was the perfect choice for the part. “That’s exactly what I was trying to do in the original comic with John, only it’s that but more so.”

John Constantine is famously from a blue-collar Liverpool-based background, but Johanna is much more upper-class. Just look at the difference in outerwear. While John is never seen without his natty trenchcoat, Johanna wears a smart, expensive-looking white overcoat. Showrunner Alan Heinberg touched on this big change during the Geeked Week panel:

“She’s a bit posh. She operates in a world that’s sort of at a higher level. I mean, the Queen and the royal family are clients. “

Coleman, meanwhile, summed up what it was that appealed to her about the character, making it clear that Johanna shares a lot of DNA with John, as they’re both lone-wolf kind of people. As Coleman said:

“The character just was so fleshed out, the voice, everything kind of came to me straight away. The idea of her being the lone kind of ranger in the world with this tough exterior and her cynicism and a wryness and wit to kind of not let anybody get close. Quite a tortured soul like, with a big compassionate heart underneath.”

Who is Johanna Constantine in DC Comics?

So what is the connection between John and Johanna? While this has yet to be officially confirmed for the show, we can look to the pages of The Sandman for answers. First appearing in 1990’s The Sandman #13, Lady Johanna Constantine is an 18th century aristocrat who shared her 20th century descendents’ knack for the occult and dark magic and was once hired by King George to protect England from a mystical threat, much like how the TV version has apparently worked for Queen Elizabeth.

Johanna has only appeared 13 times in the comics, however, with John featuring more prominently in the original Sandman saga. Possibly due to HBO Max’s upcoming Constantine TV series utilizing her more celebrated relation, Gaiman and co. elected to switch John with Johanna for the show. That said, it’s believed that she’ll likewise originally hail from the 1700s, although how she’s still around in the present-day has yet to be explained. Is she somehow immortal or has she been brought forward in time?

In the first comics volume “Preludes and Nocturnes,” Dream turns to John Constantine to help him recover his bag of sleep dust, once he has escaped from his hundred-year-long imprisonment. We know Sandman season one will adapt both volume one and two, “The Doll’s House,” so expect Johanna to team up with Morpheus in a similar way in the show. John fell out of the comics after this arc was complete, but it’s unclear if Johanna will remain a regular in future seasons.

Don’t sleep on The Sandman when it finally premieres its 11-part debut run on Netflix this August 5.