Artwork for the cover of Blood of the Demon #1 (May, 2005). Art by John Byrne.
|First appearance||The Demon #1 (August-September 1972)|
|Created by||Jack Kirby|
|In story information|
|Alter ego||Etrigan/Jason Blood|
|Team affiliations||Justice League|
|Notable aliases||Iason Blood, Jason Blood|
|Abilities||Superhuman physical attributes,
Regenerative healing factor,
Telepathy,Can project flames of mystical hellfire
The Demon is a DC Comics superhero series created by prolific comic book writer-artist Jack Kirby. The title character, named Etrigan, is an actual 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 which Etrigan is bound. Etrigan resembles a squat, muscular human with orange (or yellow) skin, horns, red eyes, and ears resembling bat wings. Blood is a tall, thin, suave man with dark red hair and a lined face.
Etrigan was inspired by a comic strip of Prince Valiant in which the title character dressed as a demon. Kirby gave his creation the same appearance as Valiant’s mask.
Jack Kirby created The Demon in 1972 when his Fourth World titles were canceled.
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 The Sandman (see Characters of The Sandman – Minor Angels and Demons) and Swamp Thing.
Etrigan was originally summoned by the wizard Merlin as part of a last-ditch defense of Camelot against the evil witch, Morgaine le Fay. When it became clear that the kingdom would fall regardless, Merlin sent the demon away and changed him into a human named Jason Blood to wait until he was summoned. One account retconned this, so that Blood was now an actual human, bonded involuntarily to the demon as his punishment for aiding Morgaine le Fay in overthrowing Camelot. Currently the series co-written and penciled by John Byrne states that the Demon is a monster possessed with the soul of a human, that being Jason Blood, who existed only to bring out his true demon self when absolutely necessary.
Centuries later, Jason was called to the crypt of Merlin and discovered a poem that could change him into Etrigan. Unfortunately, he was followed by the long-lived Morgaine who lusts for Merlin’s secrets. That led to Etrigan’s first major battle, and to the solidification of Morgaine as a major enemy. In addition, he later gained another enemy in Klarion the Witch Boy, a permanently prepubescent mage who creates trouble with his magic.
Some time after his first appearance, Etrigan began speaking entirely in rhyme (the quality of which varied considerably depending on who was writing him at the time). This was explained in Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing as the result of a promotion, with the rhyming speech being a badge of his new rank in the infernal hierarchy. Len Wein introduced this new feature of Etrigan’s dialogue in DC Comics Presents #66, with simple rhymed couplets, but Moore’s use of more complex and eloquent rhyme and meter established it firmly as the character’s trademark.
However, he is not strictly limited to rhyme, as evidenced in the miniseries, I Can’t Believe it’s Not the Justice League. Although the canonicity of this series is questionable, Blue Devil, a fellow rhyming class demon, is later shown to be able to avoid rhyming but only through considerable effort.
The poem that releases Etrigan is:
|â€œ||Yarva Demonicus Etrigan.
Change, change the form of man.
Free the prince forever damned.
Free the might from fleshy mire.
Boil the blood in heart of fire.
Gone, gone the form of man,
Rise the demon Etrigan!
Jason Blood’s first transformation into the Demon occurs when reading the inscription on the surface of a stone tomb:
|â€œ||Change! Change, O form of man!
Release the might from fleshy mire!
Boil the blood in heart of fire!
Gone! Gone! — the form of man –
Rise, the Demon Etrigan!!”
(Demon no. 1 August/September 1972 p. 22)
Generally, only the last two lines are actively recited, and the words have been known to vary slightly; the phrase “yarva daemonicus etrigan” has occasionally been used, but not consistently.
The reverse spell has several different wordings, all with the basic form “Gone, gone, O Etrigan! / Resume once more the form of man!” Alternate words include “Begone, begone, O Etrigan!” and “Rise again… (or once more); virtually every combination has been used at one time or another. The spell itself does not need to be recited by Jason or Etrigan to be effective, merely within their range of hearing. In emergencies when Jason cannot speak (for instance, when he was turned into a fly), writing it is sometimes sufficient to effect the change. On one occasion, Blood released Etrigan by using a parody of the spell (“Gone, O little man so tame / and rise the demon Whatshisname”).
In the pages of the Shadowpact series in 2007, after a failed attempt to take control of Hell using Lucifer’s Trident, Etrigan was turned to stone by a pair of magic pistols in the Oblivion bar. Etrigan will only turn to his regular form upon daybreak – which never happens within the Oblivion bar. However, it’s entirely possible for Etrigan to turn back into his demonic form eventually, as the Shadowpact are currently in an ongoing war with the evil sun king.
In Birds of Prey #118, Black Alice is able to access Etrigan’s powers in the Dark Side Club when she is drugged to only be able to steal magic from inside the building.
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 like 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, and precognition. His healing factor can handle an incredible amount of damage, allowing him to recover from wounds that have removed large sections of his body. 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 swordmanship. Jason is also an adept of magic, and is often called upon to act as an advisor or investigator in occult matters (such as in the series Arkham Asylum: Living Hell). He also has limited precognition and telepathy.
Etrigan has all the limitations usually associated with a demon, including a weakness towards Holy powers. 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.
The series Blood of the Demon, plotted and drawn by John Byrne, 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.
Etrigan’s last book was the monthly Blood of the Demon, which ended with issue #17 in July 2006.
Etrigan first appeared in The Batman Adventures Annual #2, where he teamed up with Batman to fight against Ra’s al Ghul. Set in the same continuity as Batman: The Animated Series, Jason Blood/Etrigan were also introduced and fought along side 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 miniseries # 4 of 6, 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 capabillities of his armor. Filled with jealousy, Merlin summons Etrigan, who slays Dimitri with hellfire. This alternate-past is neutralized by the efforts of Waverider.
Etrigan was shown back in Hell in Vertigo’s Sandman series, acting as guide to the Dream King as he entered to face down the Demon for his lost helmet. All of his words rhymed.
Etrigan will appear on the 50th and final issue of The Batman Strikes!, which is based on the universe of the animated series The Batman.