Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Featuring torture, bestiality, and corporal punishment; but there's still little worse than hearing about your parents doing it...

Ever since the reins of the character were passed from Jack Kirby to other writers; the Demon has gotten more and more transgressive. At least on the story front. Artwise, the Demon's still yellow and red. Which is probably just as well: we didn't need today's comic turning into an issue of Faust. From 1992, the Demon #19, "The Region Beyond, Part 4: Beyond Love Story" Written by Alan Grant, pencils by Val Semeiks, inks by Randy Elliott.

Jason Blood's mind is trapped in the Demon's body, and to make matters worse, he and his companion Thing (not that Thing!) are still trapped in Hell. Blood pretends to be an amnesiac Etrigan, as they are taken in by Lord Scapegoat, an ex-Lord of Hell, and Etrigan's half-brother! After Scapegoat takes his afternoon's torture, the incongruously hospitable devil mentions wishing Merlin was there...so the brothers could get their revenge on him. Blood gets Scapegoat to tell his story, under the pretense of "refreshing his memory."

Scapegoat begins from the beginning: their father, Lord Belial, was bored one day, and decided to conquer a neighboring kingdom of Hell. But surprisingly, the rival Queen Ran Va Daath and Belial fell in love, or at least lust. Daath did attempt to eat Belial after...well, after, but Belial knocked her out, took her home, and thirteen months later their son was born. Blue. Still, Etrigan recovered.
Etrigan quickly established himself as a pretty rotten kid, even for Hell: insanely mischievous, but able to get away with murder (possibly literally...) because of his dad. After embarrassing him in front of Lucifer, Belial starts torturing Etrigan in the hopes of establishing some discipline. No such luck.
Frustrated, Belial takes his advisors' counsel, and ditches Daath in the Pit of Hell: he felt she spoiled the boy, and thought he could claim Etrigan's behavior drove her away. Etrigan doesn't buy it. A century later, Belial takes a hot second wife, described as a minor goddess from the Middle East. She's a stunner, which makes the birth of his second son a little surprising:
Etrigan set his dad up, casting a glamour-spell on an animal spirit. Even Belial seems skeeved out by this, calling it sacrilege, and he kills his "wife," but can't bring himself to kill his son, Scapegoat. Belial claimed the baby would have power over Etrigan, and would hate and humiliate and rule him. But the good-natured Scapegoat did nothing of the sort, idolizing and loving his big brother. (For his part, Etrigan tortured Scapegoat pretty much the same as everyone else.)

Belial disappeared for some time, but had been on the mortal world, siring a third son: Merlin. And Merlin's main purpose was to tame Etrigan, which he did with the power of the Eternity Book...and a mortal soul. Etrigan tried to sell Scapegoat out, but that gave Merlin an idea: Scapegoat, as his name would imply, was to take the blame for all the sins in hell. (It may be that wasn't his name before.) Merlin then exiled him, and Scapegoat had been there for centuries, obligingly taking his torture for everyone's sins.

Blood keeps it together, but is pretty shaken up. Still, Thing gets him to resume their search for a way out of there: following the Path of Virtue, which looks a lot like Wonder Woman's golden lasso...because she left the Path, on her way out of Hell in her own book! Unfortunately for Blood and Thing, a Golden Knight blocks the path...

Is it wrong to enjoy this issue? Yes. Very much so. And yet I did, even though I hadn't read much else of the Demon's 90's series. Grant seems to be having a lot of fun, and Semeiks as well: his facial expressions tell you the Demon isn't home, as it were. I just got Demon Knights #0 the other day, featuring the current Etrigan/Blood origin which probably renders all of this moot, but I still like both.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

That's hilarious:) Yeah that series by Alan Grant, not Ennis, deemed seem very light-hearted didn't it?

Damn you Goo for giving me another one to go track down:)