Etrigan the Demon
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Artwork for the cover of Blood of the Demon #1 (May 2005), by John Byrne.
|First appearance||The Demon #1 (August 1972)|
|Created by||Jack Kirby|
|Place of origin||Hell|
|Team affiliations||Demon Knights
|Notable aliases||The Demon, Iason Blood, Jason Blood|
|Abilities||Superhuman physical attributes
Regenerative healing factor
Expert in maleficium
Can project flames of mystical hellfire
The Demon is a superhero and antihero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Jack Kirby, the titular character, named Etrigan, is a demon from Hell who, despite his violent tendencies, usually finds himself allied to the forces of good, mainly because of the alliance between the heroic characters of the DC Universe and Jason Blood, a human to whom Etrigan is bound. Etrigan is a muscular humanoid creature with orange or yellow skin, horns, red eyes, and pointed, webbed ears. The character was originally based in Gotham City, leading to numerous team-ups with Batman.
Jack Kirby created the Demon in 1972 when his Fourth World titles were cancelled. According to Mark Evanier, Kirby had no interest in horror comics, but created Etrigan in response to a demand from DC for a horror character. Kirby was annoyed that the first issue sold so well that DC required him to remain on it and abandon the Fourth World titles before he was done with them.
While his first monthly comic book series was short-lived, and his second was canceled after five years, Etrigan remains a popular supporting character with occasional additional mini-series. Popular series in which Etrigan has appeared include Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (see Characters of The Sandman - Minor Angels and Demons), Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, Kevin Smith's Green Arrow and Batman: The Widening Gyre, Garth Ennis's Hitman, and Cosmic Odyssey by Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola.
The New 52
DC Comics launched a new series featuring Etrigan titled Demon Knights, with issue #1 on September 14, 2011 as part of their company-wide relaunch. It was written by Paul Cornell and drawn by Diógenes Neves.
Fictional character biography
Etrigan, son of the demon Belial, is summoned by the wizard Merlin, his half-brother. Unable to gain the creature's secrets, he bonds the demon with Jason Blood, a knight in King Arthur's Camelot. This renders Jason immortal, though at times he considers this either a penance or a curse.
Centuries later, Jason Blood resurfaces in recent times, becoming a prominent demonologist in Gotham City. Jason is called to the crypt of Merlin and discovers a poem that changes him into Etrigan. Unfortunately, he is followed by the long-lived Morgaine le Fey, who lusts for Merlin's secrets. That leads to Etrigan's first major battle. Over the years, Etrigan both clashes with and occasionally aids Earth's heroes, guided by his own whims and Jason's attempts to turn his infernal power to good use.
Some time after his first appearance, Etrigan begins speaking in rhyme due to a promotion in Hell, though he is not limited to rhyme. He led the forces of Hell in the great battle against The Darkness and was in brief contact with the entity in its questions about its nature - he barely survived the attempt. His high rank would also see him guide Dream of the Endless from Hell's gates to Lucifer.
When Jason Blood's daughter was born, he decided to destroy Etrigan and hired metahuman hitman Tommy Monaghan to help him. After a battle against both Merlin and Etrigan, the two of them rescued the baby and Blood was able to steal the demon's heart, essentially neutralizing the demon and binding him to Jason's will. However, at the end of the battle to gain the demon's heart Jason Blood left the child, Kathryn Mark, with her mother, Glenda Mark. Jason told Glenda before he had left, "Take care of our daughter, Glenda. I think it would be best if she never knew about her father." Blood then skipped out on paying Monaghan the $2 million he'd promised. Etrigran became listless and ceased to rhyme. However, when Monaghan needed an edge against the demon Mawzir, he conned Blood into returning to Gotham and using Etrigan to retrieve an anti-demon rifle from Hell, all while preparing to force the demonologist to let the monster onto Earth again. Despite the real risk that Etrigan would kill him in vengeance, Monahgan traded Etrigan his heart for the Ace of Winchesters, once more forcing Blood to have the full burden and returning Etrigan to his full strength (though Etrigan went back on the deal and tried to kill Monaghan anyway).
Despite Blood's own doubts about himself, when the Justice League vanished during their attempt to rescue Aquaman from the past, Batman's emergency program — designed to assemble a substitute Justice League in the event that the originals were ever killed — selected Blood as the team's magic expert, a pre-recorded message Batman had left for Blood assuring the sorcerer that he would not give Etrigan the keys to the Watchtower unless he was certain he could be controlled. While working with the team, Jason spent some time reinforcing the Watchtower's magical defences. During the subsequent fight with Gamemnae, Jason sacrificed himself to free Zatanna from her control, although he later escaped Gamemnae's quagmire spell thanks to the Martian Manhunter telepathically prompting his transformation into Etrigan. The crisis resolved, Jason handed his duties as the League's magic expert over to Manitou Raven, newly arrived in the present, before departing.
The series Blood of the Demon, plotted and drawn by John Byrne, and scripted by Will Pfeifer, began in May 2005. Etrigan apparently loses the restrictions imposed upon him by the wizard Merlin which turned him from evil, caused by his "murder" at the exact moment he was transforming from his human guise, Jason Blood, into his demon self. It turns out that the incident has resulted in Jason Blood being able to exert some will over Etrigan's violent nature, whereas previously the two remained separate, only one existing at a time. Blood of the Demon ended with issue #17 in July 2006.
Etrigan later attempts to use Lucifer's trident to take control of Hell. A makeshift Shadowpact team successfully takes the Trident from him and flees to the supernatural Oblivion Bar. Etrigan follows and battles the team inside the bar. He is turned into stone via magical pistols and is used as a hat rack. The pistol's magic would return Etrigan to normal at sunrise, which never happens within the bar.
Etrigan takes part in the war for control of Hell on behalf of Neron, duelling Blue Devil. Later, due to the effects of a magical drug Satanus had infested Hell with, he was transformed into a physical human, a perfect duplicate of Jason Blood. Blood, meanwhile, has taken steps as to interfere with any possible attempts of Etrigan's to re-merge.
Etrigan briefly appears in the prelude to the JLA/JSA crossover during the Brightest Day event. Etrigan travels to Germany in order to find a crashed meteorite that contains an unconscious Jade, and is drawn into a confrontation with the Justice League after attacking a squad of German superheroes. He mocks the League by claiming they are an inferior team of substitutes, but is ultimately defeated when Donna Troy uses her Lasso of Persuasion to force him back into his Jason Blood form. Jason apologizes for the trouble he caused and departs from the scene, but not before warning Batman and his teammates that the meteorite possesses supernatural qualities. The meteor is later revealed to be the Starheart, a legendary entity that has the power to possess metahumans with magical or elemental abilities.
Etrigan is shown aiding the JLA during their mission into Hell, where he helps Hawkman defeat a demonic beast. He also was the guide to the Secret Six in their trip to Hell and led Catman to see the fate of his father, all the while amused by the confusion and pain they were suffering as a result of their visit.
The New 52
In The New 52 the 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe, his past and origins are largely changed. Before the Dark Ages, Etrigan was a rhyming demon (one not yet good at rhyming) in Lucifer's service and after too many indignities, he led a rebellion. Lucifer waited until the last moment before handing him over to Merlin: the two had struck a deal. Jason of Norwich had been sent to Camelot as a scribe to Merlin and was growing frustrated with life, believing he was meant for greater things and suffering from rages. A prophecy showed that if Jason did not have some sort of quest to force him to heal himself, his rage would grow and cause him to kill his love, Madame Xanadu; at the Fall of Camelot, Merlin bonded Etrigan to Jason in an attempt to provide this quest.
Now immortal, Jason and Etrigan came to an agreement and shared their existence. Madame Xanadu began traveling with Jason only to find Etrigan had now begun falling for her as well and would slaughter innocents if he thought she and Jason were happy together. In order to placate the demon, she pretended to be in love with him and cuckolding Jason.
Over the centuries, Jason became known as Jason o' the Blood and Etrigan continued to practice his rhymes. By the Dark Ages, he and Etrigan became the centre of a rag-tag team of adventurers, the "Demon Knights": Jason/Etrigan, Xanadu, Vandal Savage, Shining Knight, the Horsewoman, Saracen inventor Al Jabr (The Numbers in Arabic), and the Amazon Exoristos (The Exile in Greek). They first fought Mordru and the Questing Queen's army to a standstill, before being tasked by the city of Alba Sarum to return Merlin to life at Avalon. (Both Jason and Etrigan were enraged at having missed the chance to get him to separate them) Etrigan plotted to betray his teammates' souls and Avalon itself to Lucifer, in order to curry favour. While he successfully manipulated the Knights into letting Hell invade Avalon (and secretly felt guilty about his treatment of Xanadu), he was himself captured and used by the Questing Queen to get access as well. Lucifer believed Etrigan had done this deliberately and condemned him; outraged, the demon refused to serve anyone again. At the end of the battle, Jason was tasked as a member of Avalon's Stormwatch but neither he nor Xanadu wanted to serve Merlin after having Etrigan forced on them again. Jason vowed to not let the demon out so often.
In the present, Etrigan's body lies buried in London, it is explained that he was sealed there by his own friends because of his betrayal of them, but magic emanating from it is able to possess persons above, eventually freeing the demon who promptly attacks Apollo and Midnighter. The entire Stormwatch then battles Etrigan but even after being defeated, he is able to possess a host and flees.
Powers and abilities
Even among demons, Etrigan is considered to be extremely powerful. He has above superhuman strength (mystically enhanced) to the degree that he can stand against other powerhouses such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Lobo. He has a high degree of resistance to injury and can project hellfire from his body; usually from his mouth. He has a very high command of magic. Other powers include mystically enhanced fangs and claws, enhanced senses, super speed, agility, telepathy, energy blasts, and precognition. His sadomasochistic nature allows him to enjoy pain as if it were pleasure, making him generally fearless in the face of combat and torture. His healing factor can handle an incredible amount of damage, allowing him to recover from wounds that have removed large sections of his body.
As seen in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, it appears that he also has some matter manipulation power on a molecular level. His powers can be extended by other magical devices, such as the Crown of Horns. Etrigan is also provided with insight to religious aspects and other forbidden or secret knowledge.
Jason Blood is a highly skilled hand-to-hand combatant. His skills include mastery in swordsmanship. Jason is also adept at magic, and is often called upon to act as an advisor or investigator in occultic matters (such as in the series Arkham Asylum: Living Hell). He also has limited precognition and telepathy. Jason is technically immortal as he is connected to the demon Etrigan. He also has the combined experiences of all the time since he was bonded to the demon. Jason Blood unfortunately shares all of Etrigan's weaknesses.
Etrigan has all the limitations usually associated with a demon, including a weakness towards holy powers and iron. Additionally, when Green Arrow once shot a "fire extinguisher arrow" into his mouth, Batman told Etrigan that the only way to stop the pain was to change back to Jason Blood.
His command of magic is strong, but considered to be less than his father, Belial, and half-brother, Merlin the Magician. Additionally, Belial granted "power of Etrigan" to both Merlin and another son, Scapegoat.
He is also helpless against those with powers strong enough to control Etrigan, such as Morgaine le Fey. Also, Jason Blood has longevity due to his betrayal of Merlin.
Super Friends #28 (January 1980) features a hapless costume-party guest dressed as Etrigan, enchanted by the sorcerer Felix Faust to assume the powers and persona of the demon and wage battle with Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman uses her magic lasso to command the guest to ignore Faust's commands, breaking the spell.
In the continuity of the DC animated universe, Etrigan first appeared in The Batman Adventures Annual #2, where he teamed up with Batman to fight against Ra's al Ghul. Jason Blood/Etrigan were also introduced and fought alongside Batman to stop Klarion from obtaining a magical artifact in the episode "The Demon Within". Due to his immortality and friendship with Bruce Wayne, Jason Blood/Etrigan was able to team up with the future Batman in several issues of the Batman Beyond comic series, although he never appeared in the actual show. He was featured in "Magic is Everywhere!" (Batman Beyond mini-series #4, July 1999) and "Many Flights of Demons Sing Thee to Thy Rest" (Batman Beyond #14, December 2000).
In Justice League Europe Annual #2, a time-lost Dimitri Pushkin ends up in the court of Camelot. He becomes a favorite of King Arthur, partly due to the futuristic capabilities of his armor. Filled with jealousy, Merlin summons Etrigan, who slays Dimitri with hellfire. This alternate-past is neutralized by the efforts of Waverider.
In the Speed Demon one-shot, the second Speed Demon (Blaze Allen) is an amalgamation of the second Flash, the second Ghost Rider, and Etrigan (Speed Demon even refers to himself as Etrigan). The way Etrigan empowers Speed Demon is reminiscent of Marvel Comic's Zarathos, a demon who was bonded to Ghost Rider in a similar manner.
Etrigan appears in The Batman Strikes! #50 (December 2008) and asks Batman and Robin to help him find an ancient artifact stolen by the Riddler. However, he and Riddler are manipulated by the vengeful Demons Three into releasing them from the artifact, and attempt to possess Etrigan. Batman and Robin stop them and return the artifact to Etrigan. His dialogue in the issue rhymes.
Etrigan appeared in the Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves storyline, aiding Batman and Superman.
A sketch of an alternate version of Etrigan called "Superdemon" was featured in Final Crisis: Secret Files #1. Described as a denizen of Earth-17, Etrigan was sent to Earth by Merlin from the doomed Kamelot, where he entered the body of Jason Blood, son of a Kansas preacher. Over time, Jason learned to control the demon's powers, and now uses them to protect the world.
In the Flashpoint universe, Etrigan and the heroes are running from the Amazons, until Etrigan is rescued by Canterbury Cricket. The heroes then hide in the bushes and learn Canterbury Cricket's origins, until the Amazons breach their hideout. During this same period, Etrigan joins the Grifter's Resistance. After an ambush by the Furies, Etrigan is seen eating the Furies member Cheetah. While the Resistance head to Westminster, Resistance member Miss Hyde betrays them and contacts the Furies. Etrigan was shot with the magic arrows. However, Miss Hyde regains control of the body and fights the Amazons, allowing Etrigan and the Resistance to gain the upper hand.
Etrigan debuts in the fourth chapter of the Year Three Injustice comic series. He realizes Jason Blood has died when he feels agony, and later reappears to attack Superman in the Hall of Justice. After getting the corrupt Man of Steel close enough, he reveals he has made a deal with Batman in which he becomes Etrigan's new host. The Dark Knight puts Superman into an enchanted coma.
In other media
- Etrigan the Demon has appeared in the DC Animated Universe:
- The character made a single guest appearance in The New Batman Adventures, voiced by Billy Zane. In the episode "The Demon Within", Jason Blood is revealed as a friend of Bruce Wayne. After Wayne won a magical brand in an auction on his behalf, the brand was stolen by Klarion to use to split Blood and Etrigan apart and control the demon. After Batman defeats Klarion, he only rhymes when casting a spell, such as banishing Klarion once the brand's effects are reversed ("Mother's grief, Father's shame, soon he goes from whence he came"). When Robin asks what that means, Etrigan responds plainly, 'I'm sending him to his room'. Klarion's 'room' is really a crystal ball, which he has been imprisoned in ever since. In the episode "Chemistry", Blood can also be seen briefly, just as the cake passes, as a guest at the wedding party when Bruce marries Susan Maguire.
- Jason Blood's subsequent appearances are on the Justice League animated series and Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Michael T. Weiss (primarily) as well as Dee Bradley Baker (baby in "Kid's Stuff" albeit uncredited) and Kevin Conroy (adult in "Kid's Stuff" albeit uncredited). In former series, his look goes through a redesign to more closely resemble his original Jack Kirby roots. In the two-part story "A Knight of Shadows", his origin was explained in detail: during the siege of Camelot, Blood was bound by Merlin to Etrigan as a punishment for betraying the kingdom to his secret lover Morgaine Le Fey double-crosses him by poisoning him. While Blood, a nobleman, has been rendered immortal, he must share his soul with a demon for eternity — it is his "curse", the price of unforgivable lust. In latter series, he appears as one of the many members of the expanded Justice League. In the episode "Kid's Stuff", he is turned into a baby when all adults have been banished to another dimension by Mordred. When Green Lantern points out that he needs a diaper change, Batman says '"that" is a job for Superman'. He is restored to normal by the end of the episode and goes on to make several more small appearances throughout the series. In the episode "The Balance", Etrigan falls victim to Hades's fall from power due to Felix Faust where he changes form repeatedly before being trapped as half demon and half human.
- Etrigan the Demon appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced officially by Dee Bradley Baker. Jason Blood is shown as a servant of Merlin until Morgaine le Fay took control of him and used him to take on Batman and Green Arrow as seen in "Day of the Dark Knight!". Etrigan accompanied Morgaine to the location and took care of Merlin while Batman went to claim Excalibur. Merlin was able to free him from Morgaine's control and helps to fight her. After Morgaine's defeat, Etrigan left to fulfill his own destiny. This is also the first animated version of Etrigan whose dialogue is entirely in rhyme. He reappears in "Trials of the Demon!" in 19th century London, where he is framed for crimes done by Jim Craddock before he became Gentleman Ghost. Batman teams up with him to clear his name after he saves him from being burned at the stake, and to stop Gentleman Ghost. After Batman's suit is wrecked during a fight with a possessed cape, Etrigan conjures a Victorian styled suit (à la Gotham by Gaslight) and they stop Astaroth in the afterlife, a demon Etrigan sealed back in Medieval times with Merlin trying to use ten souls Jim Craddok took to escape the Underworld. This version has a vulnerability to iron, iron chains mean he cannot transform. Jason reappears in "Shadow of the Bat!", where he helps Martian Manhunter defeat Batman and the rest of the Justice League International after they are turned into vampires. Finally, worthy of mention is the fact that Etrigan briefly appears in the opening sequence of the series, among other well-known heroes.
- Etrigan the Demon will be featured in the film Dark Universe.
- Etrigan the Demon appears in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, with Dee Bradley Baker reprising his role.
- Etrigan the Demon appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by Christopher S. Field. He appears as a minor character for heroes where he turns them into zombies to infiltrate Felix Faust's ranks, and as a boss fight for villains. He also assists player villains during the endgame mission.
- Etrigan the Demon appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Liam O'Brien.
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- The Demon at Mike's Amazing World of Comics