Duma (DC Comics)
Outside the Sandman mythos
In Jewish folklore, Duma is the angel of silence and death's stillness; the Hebrew word "Dumah" means silence. According to the same stories, he is the guardian of Egypt and the prince of vindication, and sometimes is called the angel who killed the firstborn Egyptians in Moses' time. At least one source names him a "Prince of Hell"; meaning that at some unknown point in time, he apparently displeased God and fell from grace.
The Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, describes his position in Hell as such that he had "tens of thousands of angels of destruction" under him, and that he was "chief of demons in Gehinnon (Hell; a more familiar spelling is "Gehenna") with 12,000 myriads of attendants, all charged with the punishment of the souls of sinners."
In Babylonian mythology, Dumah is the name given to the guardian of the 14th gate, a gate through which the goddess Ishtar passed on her journey to the underworld. It is unclear whether the Babylonian and Hebrew mythology are related.
|Publisher||Vertigo Comics\DC Comics|
|First appearance||The Sandman #24 (March 1991)|
|Created by||Neil Gaiman|
|Place of origin||The Silver City|
It is unknown how much of Duma's background from Jewish mythology that Gaiman actually incorporated into the character (in fact Duma's role as the vindicator was taken by another DC Character, the Spectre, who also entered in contact with Duma). Many theories and interpretations have been put forward, but nothing is concrete.
In Season of Mists, Lucifer has closed down Hell in frustration, handing off the key to Morpheus. Eventually, after much squabbling between various gods, Duma and Remiel receive a message saying that they are to watch over Hell. Remiel immediately rejects it. But Duma, being the angel of silence and thus unable to voice his opinion on the matter, simply takes the key and puts it around his neck. It is thus that Remiel and Duma become the guardians of the Sandman mythos' Hell ironically creating a "happy ending" in Hell.
Duma later appears in The Kindly Ones, Remiel desperately tries to convince Lucifer to return to Hell, which he laughs at. Lucifer mentions that he respects Duma, and Remiel derisively states that Duma can talk to Lucifer if he wants to.
Later in The Wake in a rare demonstration of emotion Duma weeps at the funeral of Dream.
Duma's sacrifice in taking the key enlightened Remiel, who subsequently accepted the heavy burden of rehabilitating lost souls.
Duma also appears at the funeral of Dream of the Endless in The Wake, where he gets up and "speaks", but being the angel of silence, simply sheds a single tear which effectively communicates his feelings to all those present.
Following the end of the Sandman series, Remiel and Duma give up ownership of Hell in a complex sequence of events in the Lucifer spin-off series. This is the first time we hear Duma actually "speak", when he defies Remiel and says that Christopher Rudd was entitled to be the ruler of Hell. Duma had the key to Hell and takes it off his neck and hands it over to Christopher Rudd. Remiel and everyone is shocked to hear him speak. Remiel states that he has forsaken God by breaking his silence, but Duma retorts simply stating that he has chosen a new type of servitude to God.