Monday, October 26, 2009

If You Blinked You Missed: Demon-Hunter

One of the best Atlas/Seaboard comics was Demon-Hunter #1-and-only (July 1975). Creator/plotter/artist Rich Buckler, along with scripter Dave Kraft produced one of the most fun, cool, and original comics of the whole A/S line. Demon-Hunter was probably supposed to be a Dr. Strange rip-off, with bits and pieces of the then-popular occult characters like Ghost Rider and Son of Satan tossed into the mix, but like the best A/S comics, the creators went beyond publisher Martin Goodman's demands to create Marvel clones and created something fresh and unique.

Rich Buckler has been unfairly criticized as being not much more than an above average swipe-artist. While he has, indeed, been known to do very good imitations of artists like Jack Kirby and Neal Adams (most likely at editorial behest), when he cuts loose, as he did in Deathlok and does in Demon-Hunter, he synthesizes the best of Kirby, Adams, Jim Steranko, and John Buscema into a dynamic style of his own. He had some pretty wild ideas of his own, too! Just dig Demon-Hunter's cape. Yeah, we've seen capes that could lead to other dimensions (Cloak, Obsidian) and capes that seem to be alive (Spawn), but Buckler's Demon-Hunter did it first--and best! And how many super-heroes (supernatural or otherwise) do you know of that were (at least partially) inspired by the music of Blue Oyster Cult? Huh? Huh? Okay, enough yappin'! On wit' da comics!


Buckler and the editorial powers-that-were knew a cool concept when they saw one. After Demon-Hunter's mag bit the dust after one issue, Buckler brought him to Marvel as Devil-Slayer, complete with origin, a very similar costume, and his crusade against Xenogenesis (shades of Howard Chaykin's Scorpion/Dominic Fortune!). Devil-Slayer appeared in several Marvel comics throughout the 70s and 80s, especially Defenders and Captain America. When Buckler self-published his black and white comic mag, Galaxia, Demon-Hunter was resurrected as Bloodwing, complete with his Gideon Cross persona. Marvel recently "re-imagined" Devil-Slayer, but from the looks of it the mag didn't have a whole lot in common with Buckler's creation. (I'm sure a more with it Groove-ophile will correct me if I'm wrong about that!)

5 comments:

  1. Groove:

    Good one. I recently reviewed this one myself and, while you liked it a bit more than I did, Demon-Hunter was an inspired piece of work. When Buckler was engaged, he certainly brought a lot of energy to a project. He was certainly willing to experiment here — one page had 27 panels! You don’t see that in today’s decompressed comics : )

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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  2. You're right, Andrew. Page two would have been four issues in today's comics!

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  3. Damn! I bought the Atlas DEMON HUNTER #1 and should still have it! What a shot from the past. Buckler here seems like an unholy blend of Adams and Kubert. Atlas had possibilities,sadly cut short. But with Marvel(the Wal-Mart of comics) laying waste to everything in it's path what chance did they have? I've only recently discovered your blog and it is now a habit for me,o groovy one! This and the late 60s were my time of being a comic freak. Diversions brings it all back . With gratitude I say,GROOVE ON!

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    Replies
    1. Welcome to Groove City, Dale! Hang around all ya want. Glad to have ya!

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  4. Thanks for posting this, otherwise I would have missed out on such an interesting comic. I wish TV could come up with something similar to this in tone, but they don't seem to have the wherewithal to make anything close to it these days without putting in a lot of camp.

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