Saturday, April 16, 2011

Etrigan: The Demon

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. He eventually becomes a prominent demonologist and settles in Gotham City.

Centuries later, 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.

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 sorceror 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 hatrack. 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.

During the Blackest Night, Blood's body is possessed by Deadman, who invokes Etrigan's transformation, using his flames to hold back the Black Lanterns.

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 entitiy that has the power to possess metahumans with magical or elemental abilities.

The poem that releases Etrigan is:

“ 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:

“ 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!! ”

—The Demon #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").

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