|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Publication date||February 1999 – January 2000|
|No. of issues||10 (plus a preview, issue #0 and ½|
|Main character(s)||The Undertaker
|Written by||Beau Smith|
|Book 1||ISBN 1-84023-243-9|
|Book 2||ISBN 1840232595|
The Undertaker comics were a short series of celebrity comics comic book adaptations of the professional wrestler, The Undertaker. It was produced by the now defunct Chaos! Comics and was written by Beau Smith, with art by Manny Clark.
Originally published in single issue form by Chaos! Comics that ran as #0-13.
The story was focused primarily on the Undertaker, who in the comic book resembled his appearance circa 1998. The Undertaker was revealed to be the ruler of 'Stygian' a plane known as Hell's Prison Realm, where the worst and most deadly and evil of souls are remanded after Death. The Undertaker was both its ruler and its warden. According to the story, the Undertaker had ruled Stygian for untold ages, and would have continued to do so if not for the invasion of a druid named Augustus, who also called himself The Embalmer. Gaining entrance to Stygian, the Embalmer battled the Undertaker, intent on claiming three books which contained a prophecy by a being called the Death Scribe. This prophecy claimed the Undertaker would at some point consume all the power contained within these three books which were claimed to have a history of the future, as well as several unholy spells, and arcane procedures which resembled the Frankenstein monster, one of which is later used in the story, written before recorded time by the Death Scribe, in addition to the prophecy. Whosoever claimed and absorbed the powers of all three books could either contain that power and rule, or call down armageddon and recreate the universe in their own image. This power motivated Augustus to invade Stygian after learning of the three Books of Death, and naturally brought him into conflict with the Undertaker, the keeper of the books. The battle between the Undertaker and the Embalmer set the prophecy into motion, as the Undertaker was exiled for a time from Stygian, taking with him one of the three books, and was reborn four hundred and fifty years or so later in the twentieth century to mortal parents. He also had a brother, Kane, who was later revealed to be the son of Undertaker's mortal mother and Paul Bearer, another transgressor into Stygian who had begun a war with the Embalmer for control of that plane of reality and who also possessed one of the three Books of Death. The Embalmer at some point found the Undertaker, not knowing at the time that he had one of the books within his body, and took him back to stygian as a slave after the Undertaker set fire to his family funeral home. Eventually, The war for stygian was taken into the rings of WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation), whereby each force involved would wage secret war against the others. The Undertaker and Kane were involved directly in battles, while Bearer and the Embalmer sent proxies to do their battling for them. Eventually, the war spilled out of the wrestling rings and became uncontainable by anything as the four major players in the story, (The Undertaker, Paul Bearer, the Embalmer, and Kane) continued to attack one another. Paul Bearer ultimately allied himself with the Undertaker, while the Embalmer forcibly enlisted Kane by holding Kane's younger half-sister Jezebelle (they share the same father) hostage. However, by the series' end, the Undertaker, Bearer, Kane, and Jezebelle combined forces to defeat the Embalmer, at the cost of the immortality and some of the powers of Undertaker and Bearer, who went off in search of the books which were scattered on Earth.
The Undertaker Halloween special depicted the Undertaker in his 'Ministry of Darkness' appearance, from 1999, having reclaimed one of the books, and battling Samhain, the Lord of the Dead, when Samhain captured the souls of Undertaker's mortal parents.
The Undertaker: The deposed ruler of Stygian for untold millennia, Undertaker was banished into a limbo of some type by Augustus during their battle in the Middle Ages. Reborn four hundred and fifty years later, Undertaker had a mortal life with parents and a younger brother. He had forgotten his life prior to the one he now lived until at some point, he set fire to his home, killing his mortal parents and scarring his younger brother. Enslaved by the Embalmer, Undertaker spent many years in Stygian, before regaining his original form and powers, and set about to reclaim his kingdom. He carries within him one of the three Books of Death. He is not strictly evil, per se, but he has no qualms about killing, and was depicted as more of an anti-hero in the series, with only one instance of the character actively working to save the lives of others from a creature unleashed by the Embalmer called a Soul Eater. Undertaker was able to defeat the creature when it attempted to eat his soul because, according to the Undertaker himself, he had no soul to be eaten. With the grudging aid of his half-brother and Jezebelle, along with Paul Bearer, Undertaker was able to defeat the Embalmer and briefly regained all of the Books of Death, only for a final spell by the Embalmer to be unleashed, which scattered the books. The Undertaker was turned into a mortal, with much of his powers stripped from him, and he again set off to find the Books at the end of the series. (Presumably this would have been the start of a new story arc in which Undertaker would have been searching for the books and facing new adversaries.) However the series was ended permanently at this point. However, Undertaker regained his powers when he at some point regained possession of one of the Books of Death during the Halloween special, set after the end of the series, during which he battled Samhain, the lord of the dead.
Augutus the Dark One (aka The Embalmer): Created exclusively for the comic book, Augustus was a druid in the Middle Ages who found a way into Stygian after learning of the Three Books of Death. He managed to banish the Undertaker from his realm, and usurped the throne for himself, claiming one of the three Books of Death as well. During his time in control of Hell's prison realm, he dispatched several of the prisoners (referred to as Dark Souls throughout the comic) to sow chaos and discord and death on Earth, and was supposedly responsible for Jack the Ripper and Adolf Hitler's respective reigns of terror on Earth. At some point in the 19th century, he began warring with Paul Bearer, a prison doctor during the American civil war who had also managed to make his way into Stygian, and further split the realm's rule. The two have been at war for at least one hundred and fifty years by the time the Undertaker returned to reclaim the Books and his kingdom. Augustus' identity on Earth in the modern day was that of a corporate tycoon named Augustus Slayer, whose company was staffed almost entirely with Dark Souls. Augustus and Bearer battled through proxies in the rings of the WWE, with the losing Dark Souls in various matches being sent back to their cells in Stygian. Augustus was a master of mystical power, and was physically a match for both the Undertaker and Kane in his Embalmer guise.
Paul Bearer: Undertaker's on and off manager in the WWE, was depicted in the comic book series as a prison doctor during the late 19th century during the American Civil War, who through Frankensteinian-like experiments, managed to open a gateway into Stygian. He captured or was somehow already in possession of one of the Books of Death, and began recruiting Dark Souls for his own cause, and began warring with Augustus for control of Stygian. At some point, Bearer was supposedly capable of ordering Kane about to do his bidding (as depicted in issue 1 of the series, though this changed later on, and in issue #0, a Wizard exclusive comic, Kane was depicted as a wildcard who served neither of the three other forces involved in the ongoing war for control of Stygian), but the two apparently went their separate ways. Bearer allied himself with the Undertaker midway through the series, claiming that he believed that the combined forces of the Undertaker and the Embalmer would eventually overwhelm his own forces, and felt Undertaker to be his best chance to gain untold power and riches, and became Undertaker's second in command. Like the Embalmer, Bearer was also a master of the mystic arts, particularly the power to reanimate the bodies of the dead. He was much more cowardly than Undertaker, Kane, or Embalmer, but was crafty and very intelligent, and had read much of the lore contained within his volume of the Books of Death, which made him valuable to the Undertaker. In the WWF/ WWE, the Paul Bearer character is portrayed by William Moody.
Mankind; a frequent foe of the Undertaker, was also in the series, but played a minor role. Mankind was capable of seeing the demonic forces in the employ of the Embalmer and Paul Bearer as they really were, despite adopting human forms to move freely on Earth. He was a wild card that held no allegiance to any of the four major players in the war for Stygian. Members of the Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness faction from the WWE in 1999 also made a brief appearance, aiding Mankind when he was abducted by members of the Embalmer's forces, intent on silencing him so that he couldn't expose them for what they really were. Ironically, this actually caused the exposure they wanted to avoid, as Mankind had commented in the series that nobody in the WWF, save Kane, The Undertaker, and the Dark Souls themselves, could see the Dark Souls for what they were and did not believe him when he tried to spread the word. This changed near the end of the series when the Dark Souls abducted Mankind after dropping their human disguises while chasing him down, which then led the Ministry of Darkness to come to his aid, finally convinced of the truth behind his tales of demons in the WWF. Mankind appeared to have some form of friendship with Kane, though it was only briefly mentioned in the preview book for the series, and a singular scene in the series itself. In the WWE, Mankind is one of the many personas of Mick Foley.
Kane: Another wildcard in the war. His true goals beyond getting revenge on the Undertaker for setting the fire which scarred him and murdered their mother are entirely unknown. He was depicted as being of equal strength to the Undertaker, and only spoke once, in the Halloween special. He worked primarily with his younger half-sister Jezebelle, who wished to kill their father, Paul Bearer. Throughout the series, Kane did not speak. He growled, and made his intentions known through body language. He had some mystical powers, primarily fire-based, and was raised by Paul Bearer for a short time. His profile in the comic book preview indicated that Kane spent time in one of the various fire realms of Hell, during which he supposedly lost his mind, and emerged from this experience with an unhealthy fixation with fire, using it as one of his primary weapons, though this was only seen a handful of times, as Kane preferred to fight directly- hand to hand, much like his elder half brother. He was forced to ally with the Embalmer when his half-sister was captured. She ultimately helped to plot against the Embalmer, and he, Bearer, Jezebelle, and the Undertaker combined their blood in an ancient ritual involving a pair of knives from a so-called 'holy war' which allowed Undertaker to defeat the Embalmer. Kane spoke only a solitary line in the comics, during the Halloween special, when he saves two children from being sent to Hell by Paul Bearer.
Jezebelle: Another character created exclusively for the comic, she is Kane's younger half sister, fathered by Paul Bearer at some unknown point after Kane is spirited away from the burning funeral home in which he and Undertaker lived. Jezebelle's mother was raped by Paul Bearer during Mexico's traditional Day of the Dead festival. She gave birth to Jezebelle, but committed suicide when Jezebelle was seven, no longer able to live with the fact that her daughter was the result of the violation she suffered. At some point, she met Kane and the two began working together to gain their respective revenges. She attracted the eye of Augustus, who tried to use his mystic powers to gain control of her will in order to bring Kane under his full command. He failed in this, and the two plotted to kill the Embalmer during a 'wedding' he was preparing for himself and Jezebelle. She carried with her the Knives of the Holy Wars, an unspecified conflict in the history of the series, which ultimately lead to the defeat of the Embalmer at the end of the series.
The series has been collected into a number of trade paperbacks:
- WWF Presents: The Undertaker:
- List of wrestling-based comic books
- Journey into Darkness: An Unauthorized History of Kane, novel about Kane with the Undertaker making a cameo