Thursday, June 18, 2015


Whatever else you can say about Demon Hunter, it promised a lot.

Debuting in September 1975 within the pages of his self-titled magazine, Demon Hunter is kind enough to start by asking and answering the following question: “What does a demon hunter do?” Well, just a guess, but I reckon that he hunts demons. According to the splash page definition, a demon hunter (n.) does “everything he can to prevent Xenogenesis, the rebirth of a demon race here on Earth!” It’s good to have a hobby.

Demon Hunter is Gideon Cross, a former Army infantryman in Vietnam who returned to find that his life had fallen to pieces during his absence. With his wife having run off with another man, the distraught Cross signed up with some ambiguous crime family, knocking over bookie joints and drinking himself to sleep every night. Well, it beats working with tar.

Just unwinding with a flask full of blood and a bright red bodysuit.

Lacking any real direction, Cross ends up associating himself with a fancy supernatural cult which calls itself “The Harvesters of Night.” The hooded figures of the cult enhance Cross’ inherent powers of ESP (he calls it both his “Sixth Sense” and “telepathy,” but I like to call it by its more mellifluous name, “Mind Ray Beam Juice Power”) and teach him how to mask his outlandish costume from prying eyes, which he could also do by putting on a t-shirt.

The famous airplane scene from
The Opening of Misty Beethoven.
The cult sets him up with a dimension-crossing cloak and gets him grabbing blood samples from his clients, assassinating dudes willy-nilly under the appealing job title of “Harvester of Eyes,” and only after he’s attacked by the demon Hamremmiz  (who’s disguised as the demon Ballberith and WHO CARES because we don’t know who either of those made up demons are and they disappear right after that), does DemonHunter begin to suspect that maybe the Cult is evil. They literally inducted him kneeling buck-naked inside a ring of tombstones in front of a giant fireplace built inside a monster’s face after trying to kill him with a six-armed monster and then sent him out to kill people, but only after his eleventh murder does he begin to suspect that maybe the Harvesters of Night aren’t the Girl Scouts.

Turning his back on the Harvesters of Night, which is increasingly sounding like a terrible metal band or an underwhelming Dungeons and Dragons campaign, Cross decides to pit himself against their apparently evil plans to fill Earth with demons. Ah, those finks, that’s the OPPOSITE of what they said they were gonna do!

Atlas-Seaboard supported exactly one issue of Demon Hunter, but writer David Anthony Kraft revived him at Marvel in a color-switched uniform and with a slightly different sobriquet (Devil Slayer) and wedging him into his run on The Defenders. To be fair, his career has exactly been on an unending upward trajectory at Marvel Comics, either, but at least we haven’t had Xenogenesis yet. That I’ve read about in USA Today, anyway.

1 comment:

atgnwtbo said...

Thanks for the flashback to the first Atlas/Seaboard title I came across in the mid 70s. This issue did have promise, but was only a one-off. The whole Atlas line (some 65+ issues of comics and comic mags), a reaction by Martin Goodman, former publisher of Marvel, to his son Chip's ouster from Marvel after it was sold, appeared and was gone within a year. Atlas did a good job of imitating the style of Marvel comics at the time, helped particularly by creative work from Marvel staffers like Buckler, Adams, Ditko, Wood, Goodwin, Fleisher, Hama, Chaykin, Friedrich, and Larry Lieber (Stan Lee's brother) as an editor. has all the info one needs about Atlas/Seaboard- it's a very complete and interesting site. The company is significant for what it brought to the industry at that time: creative rights, returned artwork and higher page rates.

As for your remark about the Harvesters of Night sounding like a terrible metal band, Demon Hunter artist, Rich Buckler, confirmed that the name and idea for the group in the comic was taken from Blue Oyster Cult's 1974 song, "Harvester of Eyes" (from their Secret Treaties album).

I've just discovered your blog, but it will now be essential reading- great job! The book looks interesting as well. Is there any significant overlap in your book with your blog? Thanks again for the entertaining and informative work!

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