“Gone! Gone! The form of man,
Rise the Demon Etrigan!”
Every fan of the illustrated horror genre knows these fateful words by heart. The words that transform Jason blood into Etrigan, the son of the demon Belial.
right away, you knew the king had something great and gruesome in store for him and dc fans in 1972 when jack Kirby breathed life into his newest brainchild called the demon.
throw in some fun ‘n games (and blood-letting and high adventure) from the days of king Arthur and you really had something spook-tacular: you had the demon Etrigan. (you gotta hand it to Kirby; he never did things in a small way. It was once said about jolly jack that when humankind finally reaches the far end of the universe, Kirby’s signature would be there).
in Kirby’s world, Etrigan had been summoned by merlin as part of the defense of same lot against the wiles of the witch Morgaine le fay. Despite all their efforts, however, Camelot’s doom was sealed but the ever-inventive merlin managed to change Etrigan into human form-Jason blood-to await another summons from the master mage. Writer/artist john Byrne later tweaked this origin by having Etrigan actually be a demon possessed by the soul of a human blood again-who was only around to bring out his true demon self when he deemed it necessary.
while the original Kirby edited/written/drawn comic only had a 16-issue run, the popular character continued to rear his horned head in other dc books into the late ’80s, even spawning the “driven out” mini-series in 2003-04 and “blood of the demon” in 2005-06.
as far as the demon’s beastly and otherworldly powers went, Etrigan was explained to have mystically enhanced super strength, a resistance to injury just this side of wolverine’s and a decidedly powerful magical acumen. He was also a bit sadistic in wielding these abilities and actually seemed to relish pain while in the throes of combat.
despite these eerie powers, the demon may have suffered from the same mysterious malady that struck his Kirby-created contemporaries at dc-such as mister miracle, devil dinosaur, the new gods, et al. The cadre of fans was there, but they apparently weren’t digging deep enough into their pockets to read his fantastic adventures.
one of the more novel aspects of the demon was his tendency to speak in rhyme. Depending on his writer du jour, sometimes only in rhyme. But even that distinctive scripting approach wasn’t enough to make Etrigan a major player in the horror or superhero scene.
apparently, the “word play” was not “the thing to catch the conscience of the king. ”
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Last modified: December 19, 2016