THE DEMONS

[Featuring Jedediah Pan and Jeremiah Cold…along with the six deadly titular demons]



Introduction


"The Demons" was one of the best series produced for EERIE during the final three years of the mag's great creative heyday (circa 1976-1978) before the company's final era of decline (not that a few gems weren't produced during its twilight days, mind you). It's also one of EERIE's most underrated series, IMHO, given no honorable mention whatsoever in THE WARREN COMPANION compendium, and this author believes that the highly memorable strip featuring the enigmatic Jedediah Pan and his demons more than deserved such a mention. This series was characterized by high quality scripts courtesy of one of Warren's chief authors (and frequent EERIE editor) Bill DuBay and great moody artwork by master illustrator Jose Oritz. It was also designed to cash in on the soaring popularity of demons as a horror device during the '70s, and with movies like "The Exorcist," "The Omen," "Abby," "To The Devil A Daughter" and other such films infesting cinemas and drive-ins, and thereby the public mindset of that wondrous decade, the proliferation of demons in horror-oriented comic books and mags was absolutely inevitable.

Marvel followed the trend by combining its penchant for the heroic ideal with demonic horror by creating series for the Ghost Rider, the Son of Satan, Gabriel the Devil Hunter, and Satanna the Devil's Daughter (the latter a modestly successful attempt to cash in on Warren's great success with Vampirella, and not to be confused with the Warren character who appeared in EERIE #50), and DC did the same with Jack Kirby's enduring creation, Etrigan the Demon. Demons have always been as popular a horror device in fictional literature and cinema as vampires, werewolves, man-made monsters, mummies, and similar creatures of the night, and Warren was publishing stand-alone horror stories featuring the denizens of Hell since before the 1970s, in the earliest days of CREEPY, EERIE, and VAMPIRELLA. Some series and stand-alone stories about demons dealt with the variety that possess and corrupt human beings (or even animals; this variety often battled by Daimon Hellstrom, a.k.a., the powerful human/demon hybrid known as the Son of Satan, and the crusading exorcist called Gabriel the Devil Hunter), whereas others deal with those who physically manifest on the material plane and wreak physical havoc upon hapless human beings (the variety featured in "The Demons" series covered in this Index), while others were a combination of the last two categories, with humans possessed by demons but with the ability to physically morph into that demon and use its power to battle other manifestations of evil in full Faustian fashion (this type included Marvel's Ghost Rider, the result of stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze merging with the powerful skeletal demon Zarathos; DC's Demon character, the result of mystic Jason Blood merging his essence with the powerful yellow-skinned demon Etrigan [the latter two, along with the Silver Age Flash, were amalgamated into the super-swift demonic dispenser of justice known as the Speed Demon in Amalgam Comics' eponymous one-shot 1996 comic]; and Warren's character the Goblin, the latter debuting in EERIE #71 during the '70s, though he wouldn't receive his own series until THE ROOK gave him one, followed by his own short-lived mag, during Warren's final days).

As noted, "The Demons" series in EERIE was of the second category described just above, and what a treat (some might say assault) on the senses it was [the demonic characters in this series, it should be noted, segued into the third category described above once they began their crossover with Vampi in her own mag by the early '80s]. The fact that it was so well-scripted (despite the series receiving a rather unsatisfactory ending) and well-illustrated only added to the dark mental delicacy it provided to readers. This was also one of the most disturbing and violent series to ever appear in EERIE, and it's certainly not intended for sensitive readers or those who are easily offended by gore and intense themes…a good story need not be "tasteful" in order to have high quality in its presentation, but this strip is certainly not for the aesthetic tastes of everyone. Nevertheless, this series certainly deserves an index or entry of its own in any publication, print or online, that purports to cover some of the most compelling Warren material produced during the company's reign, particularly those dealing with the series content of EERIE and VAMPIRELLA, which this site is largely devoted to.

This strip's title in any issue of EERIE in which it ran varied depending upon who was controlling the demon-summoning mystical armbands in any given tale, e.g., "The Demons of Jedediah Pan," "The Demons of Jeremiah Cold," etc. In fact, the mysterious and unpredictable Jedediah Pan, a sympathetic villain and sometimes anti-hero, and his estranged morally upright son, Jeremiah Cold, were the prime protagonists of the strip no matter who was wielding one or both of the enigmatic, demon-summoning silver armbands, and the tense drama between the two as they slowly morphed from bitter foes to something akin to a traditional father-son relationship was one of the highlights of the moderate-length series.

Creative mythographers who have an interest in mining the wonderful Warren output for material in which to incorporate into the Wold Newton Universe [WNU], including those with a strong interest in the horror genre and/or seeking out material involving demonic occurrences in the WNU, would do well to check this series out, because not only is it worth the time and money to do so in regards to its overall quality, but since this series later crossed over into a two-part story arc in the Vampirella strip during the latter days of Warren's VAMPIRELLA mag, Jedediah Pan, his strange silver armbands, and the demonic entities they could summon to literally rend the opponents of the bands' wielder limb from limb, have already been brought into the WNU via the above crossover (the two Vampi stories featuring the armbands and demons of Jedediah Pan are indexed below).


EERIE #72

The Demons of Jedediah Pan: "Daddy Was A Demon Man"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Jose Oritz

The small town of Crucifixion Hill, New Mexico, circa 1912, is entered in the early morning hours by a very old-style automobile indigenous to that era, driven by a tall, lanky older man with a long white beard and wearing a top hat, accompanied by a troupe of heavily armed Mexicans on horseback. The vehicle and riders pull up to the mayor's home, and burst their way into the house, awakening the still slumbering politician. The older man is recognized as one Jedediah Pan by the terrified mayor, who finds himself held at gunpoint by Pan and his (presumably hired) band of outlaws, the former of whom simply smiles and says, "Long time no see, Mayor." Pan then tells the horrified mayor that the politician knows why he is there, and he wants to know where his item of property is. The mayor first hastily told him that he didn't have the item, but Pan, knowing better, had one of his outlaw accomplices cock his gun close to the politician's face, and the besieged man quickly told his victimizer that the item was located in the top drawer of his dresser. The smiling Pan recovered a metallic wrist band with odd symbols inscribed on it, thanked the mayor…and then instructed one of his accomplices to shoot the politician dead.

Striding boldly out of the mayor's home into the early morning hour streets of Crucifixion Hill, Pan joyously announced that the town now belonged to his accomplices, as promised. The outlaws, screaming and shooting their firearms in a state of total revelry, then proceeded to commit acts of mass looting, violence, and rape against the hapless citizens. Now having recovered his mysterious armband, Pan entered the fray in a very terrifying manner…by holding up the arm wearing the band, he uttered aloud the names of three of Hell's most vicious demons [or at least bio-etheric avatars thereof; see Comments below], Balam, Belial, and Belphegor, and with the utterance of each name, a beam of mystical light flowed forth from the metallic armband in the direction Pan's arm was pointing, resulting in the demon whose name was called to tangibly manifest on the Earthly plane (the demons manifested as short semi-humanoid creatures who resembled demons from old engravings made during past centuries, i.e., combining monstrous facial features with horns, goat-like lower extremities, bat-like wings, a long tail with an arrow-shaped tip, sharp fangs and talons, etc., each in distinct variance from each other; thus, they may have taken these specific forms due to Pan's mental conception of what these demons "should" look like based upon his studies of Christian demonology texts, grimoire excerpts, and engravings). The three demons then displayed a formidable level of superhuman strength and agility by attacking every human in sight and killing them by literally ripping their limbs and/or heads from their bodies (in addition to slashing and biting them with their talons and fangs).

A short time later, a horrified young woman named Lizbella Sims lay screaming in a small doctor's office, located a ways outside of Crucifixion Hill, and the girl and the physician tending to her were soon joined by an older man called Judge Cold and his 20-year old son, Jeremiah. The doctor explained to Judge Cold that the reason he called him to his office was because Lizbella kept shouting his name…she was found by a few farmers wandering outside of town in a completely hysterical state, and they brought her to the doctor's office for treatment. Judge Cold finally calmed the young woman down, enough so that she frantically told him that Jedediah Pan had returned, and that he knew that the judge had his other armband. She then told him that Pan sent her to inform him that he would kill an entire family each day in Crucifixion Hill until the judge returned to him the second armband…and his son. Otherwise, Pan would proceed to slaughter everyone in the town the same way his own family was murdered by the residents of that municipality 20 years previous. As the doctor sedated the hysterical girl, the judge took leave of the office with Jeremiah, who was asking him exactly what Ms. Sims was ranting about. Judge Cold began by telling his son, "The past, Jeremiah. It's all about the past…
"…And something I should have told you about long ago…something I tried to protect you from."
Entering their vehicle together, Judge Cold resolved to tell his son the full, tragic story behind Jedediah Pan's murderous anger towards Crucifixion Hill, the armbands…and Pan's son.

Two decades past, prior to New Mexico becoming part of the United States (this flashback sequence would be about circa 1892), the town of Crucifixion Hill, in Judge Cold's words, was "a poor one. Run by honest, God-fearing people. Superstitious folks who never took to strangers.
"They took less to Jedediah Pan and his family, when one day, they appeared on the town's main street as if from nowhere."

Continuing his flashback narration, Judge Cold lamented that Pan was an odd man whose family kept to themselves, and never bothered anyone. He purchased a few worthless acres of land just outside of town immediately after arriving. As Judge Cold continued:
"No one knew much about his background. No one cared…until Pan's worthless acres started to mature into prime property.
"As if overnight, brushland was cleared and cultivated. A small stream appeared from nowhere. And the Pan home…one day the foundation was there. The next day, the house was finished."

These proceedings scared the superstitious citizens of Crucifixion Hill, and much gossip quickly commenced among the residents that he was a "Demon Man," i.e., a priest of a 'Satanic' cult located somewhere back East. To make matters worse for Pan, a young boy who was out night-trapping one evening witnessed "hideously frightening demons" performing tasks of heavy labor on the Pan farm. The townspeople quickly came to fear and hate Pan, though the man was unaware of this fact…until the day his wife Sarah became seriously ill with a fever, and he and his family rode into town begging to see the doctor (other than his wife, his family consisted of a little girl and his infant son).

Much to Pan's shock and consternation, however, he was met with extreme hostility, with many of the townsfolk gathering around him and demanding that the "Demon Man" leave their midst immediately, and that they didn't care if his wife died. Pan continued to beg for help in attending to his ailing wife Sarah, however, and the town doctor responded to his pleas. When Johnson, one of the men from town, insisted that the doctor turn the family away, the physician refused to deny Sarah Pan his help…in response, Johnson brutally pistol whipped the doctor over the head, killing him outright. The raging townsfolk then turned on the shocked and dejected Jedediah Pan and his family; as Judge Cold described it, "The good folk of Crucifixion Hill allowed themselves to be riled to fever pitch by a few superstitious madmen. Several lifted Jedediah high over their heads, and began carrying him off to lynch him. Several others grabbed his wife and daughter…!"

As Pan's daughter screamed in horror and begged her father to help her, the man tore himself free from the men who held in him a surge of adrenaline, pointed his hand directly in front of him, and uttered the words, "Belial! By the hidden powers of darkness…come to me now!" A beam of mystical energy was projected from the metallic armband that Pan wore around his right wrist, and a small (about four foot tall) demonic creature materialized in a puff of brimstone. Shouting to the demon Belial to kill every member of the town in sight, the hideous creature did as commanded, and the beast began viciously tearing into the townsfolk, literally ripping limbs and heads from their bodies (all drawn in wondrously graphic detail by artist Ortiz). The demon brutally murdered about half the startled people in the crowd before they reacted, when a small group of the armed men emptied their bullets into the beast's hide. After taking numerous such shots, the demon Belial [or an avatar thereof; see Comments below] slumped to the ground, apparently dead, and soon fizzled away into a cloud of smoke.

Realizing that the armband was the source of Pan's ability to summon the demon, the men quickly attacked him anew and removed both of his armbands (he had one around each wrist). The mayor of the town, who was involved in the melee, took one of the bands, while the other one fell to the streets. Determined to execute the entire family of the "Demon Man" in their midst, as the crowd prepared to lynch Pan himself, they began to crucify his ailing wife and young daughter on two large wooden crosses that lay in the town square.

Suddenly, however, a then much younger Judge Cold and his wife appeared, the former striking a townsman over the head with his rifle butt when the man was going to murder Pan's infant son, and his wife took the baby safely in her arms. Cold then shot the rope that Pan was dangling from before he could be killed by strangulation, but his wife and daughter died as a result of having the large nails pounded through their hands. Angrily confronting the townsfolk, Judge Cold and his wife convinced them to relent, with one of the ringleaders of the mob (likely the Mayor) warning Cold that the entire town would one day regret the sparing of the "Demon Man's" life. As Judge Cold put it, "…if the blood of Jedediah's wife and little girl had not appeased the townful [sic] of madmen, we too would have met our end that night!"

As the judge began to conclude his narration of the flashback as he and his son Jeremiah parked in front of their home, Judge Cold explained that since he shot the rope before it could kill Pan, "he lived to stand trial before a hung jury" [was that a covert attempt at dark humor by author DuBay? If so, ha…ha. And people think my puns are bad]. The townsfolk said they witnessed Pan clubbing the doctor to death before the mob attacked him (presumably having claimed, incorrectly, that Jedediah did this because the physician refused to help his ailing wife). Pan was thus sentenced to spend 20 years in prison [don't ask me why they didn't legally execute him, as you would expect, or why the townsfolk were never tried in any manner for killing an ill woman and a little girl, regardless of what the head of the household allegedly did…I would opine that the constantly re-elected mayor of the town and what passed for his lawmen must have been quite corrupt, especially since they were also complicit in what happened…however, you would still think that the mayor would have had the common sense to execute Pan, as he probably should have anticipated what would happen once he was released from prison two decades later…I suppose the mayor must have counted on the dude to die in prison]. As it was, Judge Cold and his wife were so sickened by the tableau they witnessed in Crucifixion Hill that night, they moved outside of the town.

The judge then told Jeremiah that he and his wife took the man's infant son and raised him as their own…Jeremiah Cold was the son of Jedediah Pan, whom the revenge-seeker had called for. Judge Cold was highly regretful for not telling his adopted son of his true parentage sooner, but he feared that the adopted child he grew to love would have left him as a result. Jeremiah warmly embraced his adopted father, telling his foster parent that he never should have thought such a thing, as he deeply loved the man who raised him into a virtuous young man, while also teaching him how to fight, both with his fists and with a shotgun (abilities that Jeremiah Cold would prove remarkably sufficient in), and that nothing had changed between them ("you're my father…in spite of my accident of birth!").

Judge Cold informed his son that Jedediah Pan feels otherwise, and he not only wants his son…but also another item of his property that the judge picked up from the dirty street of Crucifixion Hill during the incident involving Pan and the murder of his family. The judge then produced the other wristband that Pan was seeking from a drawer in the home where it was hidden, and reminded his son that it would enable him to summon and control three mighty demons from Hell if the need should arise. He also said that he saw Mayor Gold pick up the other band, and that Pan most certainly had it back by now [one wonders why an amoral man like Mayor Gold didn't wear the band himself at all times, to indulge the power that owning such a mystical artifact would grant him; I guess we are expected to believe that he assumed only Pan could use the band to summon the demons, or that he was too afraid he would be unable to control the creatures if he summoned them…or maybe he simply forgot the demonic name that he heard Pan utter over the course of a few weeks…still, he did keep the damn things in his home for two freakin' decades!]. Handing his son a rifle in addition to the armband, Judge Cold told his son that he would have to go into Crucifixion Hill alone, and stop the vengeance-maddened Jedediah Pan from destroying an entire town [Judge Cold didn't want to accompany his son into the town, leaving him to face the threat alone, despite his confidence in his son's ability to handle the situation? Um…okay. I guess I can believe that…sorta].

Following Judge Cold's instructions, Jeremiah took their automobile and drove into Crucifixion Hill, and then proceeded to walk into town with a rifle in hand, until he came across a small group of the Mexican outlaws torturing a young woman by force-feeding her liquor.

Jeremiah Cold's arrival quickly gained the attention of the outlaws…and their ringleader, Jedediah Pan, who noticed the distinctive armband he was wearing, sarcastically commenting, "Nice piece of jewelry you got there, kid. You steal it…or inherit it?" Cold replied, "If that's your way of asking if I'm the son you sent for…I've got a better way of answering! Belial! By the hidden powers of darkness, come to me!"

Unfortunately, nothing happened, and Pan and his confederates shared a laugh at the lack of results ("That's a pretty speech, kid! Whad'ya expect it to do for you…materialize a demon?"). Pan then noted that the demon Belial goes with the particular armband that he was wearing…as well as his demonic brethren Balam and Belphegor, all three of whom materialized when Jedediah mentioned their names and pointed his arm.

Jeremiah Cold responded by opening fire with his rifle on all three demons when they attacked him, seriously injuring their physical aspects. When he was out of ammo, he then proceeded to use the rifle as a bludgeon to further injure the attacking nether-beasts, finally producing a handgun, which he used to finish the job [mighty impressive display of prowess from a mere mortal, especially when we saw these demons tear a large crowd of armed men apart! See Comments below]. Once the demons were dispatched, Cold turned to Pan and punched his biological father clear through a wooden fence in front of them. The two men then fought with each other, Cold ultimately gaining the upper hand and thrashing Pan in front of the startled crowd of outlaws [hell, I would have been impressed by Cold's showing, also!]. Cold then removed the armband he was carrying, and threw it on the ground before Pan, telling him that he simply came into town to return the item to the older man, asking him, "Was it worth the price of a town?" The young man then turned to leave.

Pan shouted that he only came to reclaim two things of his that were taken from him so many years ago, his wristband and his son…to which Cold retorted that the man would have to settle for reclaiming only one of these things, since he "sure as hell" couldn't have the other. The grief-stricken and embittered Pan then choked that he understood what the young man meant, and turned to tell his confederates that there was no more business for them in the town. When one of his men reminded him that the "gringos" never returned his son to him, Pan responded, sadly, that he had a feeling that his son was lost to him 20 years previous.

As Cold continued his trek back to his automobile, Jedediah Pan caught up to him in his own vehicle as he, too, was in the process of leaving town, and tossed Cold the armband he had just surrendered, telling him, "And you, boy…! Should you ever run into anyone who claims to be the son of Jedediah Pan…
"…you give him this for me! Three of Hell's most powerful demons reside within it! They're his to command…!
"All he's got to do is call out their names. Asmodeus! Astaroth! Ahriman!
"Can you remember that, stranger?"

Watching as the man called Jedediah Pan and his band of Mexican accomplices drove off into the horizon, a despondent looking Jeremiah Cold slipped the armband on his wrist, verbally responding with, "I'll remember that…stranger!"

Comments: This terrific story represented Bill DuBay at his best, as well as some atmospheric artwork by Jose Oritz that complimented DuBay's script quite well. The dialogue was usually well crafted, and often very touching and even profound. Jedediah Pan was a singularly fascinating character, and like the majority of continuing characters appearing in the annals of EERIE, he was a complicated, realistically drawn human being who could be driven to murderous revenge if he was crossed, yet at the same time he didn't come off as a totally evil man whose entire mental state revolved around violence (like DC's notorious "anti-hero" Lobo). As this story hinted, and later entries in the series (including the next) made more abundantly clear, he was far from bereft of a conscience altogether, and he would indeed stand up for innocent strangers in need. He was a classic example of an anti-hero predisposed to frontier justice…he could be harsh and even terribly cruel to those who crossed him in some serious manner, but he could also be a surprisingly just individual towards those whom he respected, or simply those who needed him and he happened to sympathize with. I wouldn't personally call Jedediah Pan a good man, at least not in the same sense as his son, Jeremiah Cold, was; but I wouldn't call him a selfish, totally immoral individual either. The fact that he was willing to use demons he could summon and command in the same deadly manner as frontier anti-heroes would use a gun certainly wouldn't endear him to people who prefer the type of hero that Captain America and Spider-Man represent as opposed to the type of anti-hero that Wolverine or the Punisher embody.
Nevertheless, other readers would have a grudging respect, if not a sizable level of admiration, for the latter type of hero, and may even consider the former type to be overly "soft" on evil, and they wouldn't consider someone to be a villain if they only killed when sufficiently or unjustly provoked, or for the purpose of protecting innocents (even though I fully admit that sometimes such anti-heroes can take their displays of temper too far). I'll let individual readers decide for themselves how they personally define a hero, and whether or not anyone who would kill and is subject to a violent rage on a semi-regular basis could be placed in the "hero" category, or whether they would consider such characters to be "as bad as" the likes of the Red Skull or Lex Luthor due to their willingness to kill or seriously maim an opponent.

Some people, of the more theological bent, may consider Jedediah Pan to be a more or less "evil" character (rather than simply "dark") due to the fact that he uses demonic entities as a weapon (in addition to his fists or firearms and other implements as needed). It should be noted, however, that during the '70s (and even for a time during the mid-'90s), genuine heroes utilizing demonic powers on the proverbial side of the angels were a bona fide trend in comics. As noted in the Introduction above, individuals in the comics such as Johnny Blaze, Daimon Hellstrom, and Jason Blood utilized great supernatural powers gleaned from alliances (either spiritual or 'biological') with demonic forces to battle evil, despite the fact that some of the evil they had to contend with often lay within themselves, as well. It appears there is a perfectly legitimate category, or perhaps sub-category, of supernatural hero who utilize outright demonic power to battle the black hats of the world. Moreover, Jedediah Pan's son Jeremiah Cold was quite virtuous, though willing to kill in self-defense, and he, too, used demonic forces to battle evil. We must also consider that the demon known as Hellboy, who appeared in more recent years, is considered a true hero in the WNU.

Further, monsters such as werewolves and vampires are known to be extremely dangerous, yet during this same era Marvel gave us heroic versions of such monsters with Jack Russell, a.k.a., Werewolf By Night, whose lupine alter-ego inevitably ended up tackling evil beings or entities of greater danger to humans than himself, and Dr. Michael Morbius, whose transformation into a "living" vampire caused him to battle his own bloodlust as much as the evil forces that he tried to focus his inherently noble spirit upon. And, of course, Warren Comics gave us their version of Dracula (i.e., Dracula-Mordante), who frequently fought against his evil, bloodlusting side with his inner nobility…though his good side always lost in the end. In fact, many Warren 'heroes' published throughout its history, if not most of them (Vampirella and Pantha included), can be said to have a dark and even psychotic edge to them despite the number of truly heroic acts they may perform. Of course, how similar Vampi or Pantha may have been to characters like Jedediah Pan, Darklon the Mystic, the Spook, Demian Hunter, the Butcher, or Exterminator One is a subject that merits a significant amount of debate, along with strict analysis of each character. Perhaps this author (and/or others) will present such an exegesis on this topic in the future.

All-in-all, however the individual reader may choose to classify him, Jedediah Pan was an interesting character on many levels, as he represented the stygian depths that a person can be dragged to if they are hurt badly enough, but at the same time display a strong potential for a noble, selfless streak within them. As such, people could vicariously identify with him and his actions to a much greater extent than they could to the virtually flawless Captain America or Superman, despite the fact that the latter two personages would be considered far better moral role models for one to follow.

Little was revealed of Jedediah Pan's past in this series. He didn't seem to be a true mystic, as he wasn't seen performing magick on a regular basis, yet he was reported as having created the metallic armbands housing the essences of three demons each. How this occurred, and what the true origin of Jedediah Pan may have been and what his early life prior to 1892 was like, remains to be revealed.

The demonic entities that Jedediah Pan's armbands summoned were all "actual" demons taken from Real Universe [RU] texts on demonology, often described as some of the most powerful demons in the cosmos. Of course, as physically powerful as the small demonic beings who appeared in this story were, none of them appeared to have power beyond extremely formidable superhuman strength, strong enough to literally tear a human being limb-from-limb, to have incredible stamina and agility, and very sharp talons and fangs; Balam, for instance, had bat-like wings on his back, but he didn't demonstrate the ability to fly. Hence, it can be surmised that these demons were actually demonic avatars of the actual demons by that name, i.e., "seedlings" or "progeny" who could be diffused into a vaporous etheric cloud and trapped in the enchanted metal the armbands were composed of and reinforced by inscribed mystical sigils, and when their name was spoken (as a token "word of power" that resonated with the demonic avatar's essence), the brimstone "cloud" of etheric mist could be forcibly projected from the band in a visible beam of light, where it would coalesce into a fully tangible, bio-etheric form similar to that of supernatural vampires and certain dragons in the WNU (certain groups of both could diffuse their bio-etheric forms to varying degrees, and demonstrate shape-shifting abilities, as well as appearing as visible but intangible, slightly luminescent mist, i.e., etheric matter in its most diffuse visible state). These demons appeared to have a fairly low level of intelligence, and while they could speak, they only did so in quite a simple, stilted manner (e.g., "I…obey…master"). They had a strong psychic connection to whoever wielded the bands, and like monstrous but non-omnipotent genies, they would have to obey the verbal commands of anyone who summoned them.

This was the only story in the series that had a title other than that which identified which character would be the demon-wielding protagonist (e.g., "The Demons of Jedediah Pan," "The Demons of Father Pain," etc.).

It's not certain whether Jedediah Pan's surname, taken from the Greco-Roman god of nature and fomenter of fear, had anything to do with his unusual mystical qualities. The name "Pan" (where we derive the English words "panic," "panophobia" [fear of everything], and "pantheism" [the belief that divinity is embodied in all aspects of nature]) does have strong mystical connotations to it, and the strange lawnmower wielding man from the short story "The Lawnmower Man" by Stephen King, appears to have been a minion of Pan. The image of Pan, and other male Pagan nature deities (e.g., the Celtic Cernunnos, the satyrs and fauns, the ancient God of the Hunt/Horned God) were bastardized by the Roman Catholic Church during the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages into the popular image of demons, and this psychic resonance is probably the reason that some demons deliberately (or perhaps involuntarily in some cases) take on anthropomorphized goat-like features to those who summon or behold them, though others take on more serpentine characteristics, since the image of the serpent as representing evil (such as the primeval serpent god Set) also has a strong psychic resonance among many human beings.
Demons appear to be able and willing to adapt themselves to the belief systems and expectations of different individuals and groups quite readily in their various dealings with humans.

In the next story, which appeared in EERIE #74, the name of Pan's gang was revealed as being called the Wild Woodchuck Gang, who abandoned him after his failure in this tale. They were described in the text as being composed of "thirty-two ex-gunfighters, twelve aging ex-Confederate soldiers, two crippled banditos and [of course] three midget demons of rather dubious origin." The town of Crucifixion Hill was also described in the next story as having a population of only eighteen, which makes Walnut Grove look like Metropolis by comparison! [Then again, since you rarely saw anyone other than the main cast members more than once on any given episode of "Little House On The Prairie," who knows…it may have had a high residential "turnover" rate.] I will leave it to future creative mythographers to decide if this assessment of the town's populace was perhaps understated.

WNU Connections: Since this series later crossed over into a two-part story arc in the Vampirella strip several years later in VAMPIRELLA #92-93, which featured the armbands, the six demonic beings from this strip, and a cameo appearance of Jedediah Pan, this series is officially part of the "consensus" WNU chron.

Creative mythographers who wish to do studies of all aspects of demonology in the WNU should certainly check this series out (it's worth doing so for many reasons). As I noted above in the Comments section, since the powerful demons described in this series, such as Asmodeus, have appeared in different, much more powerful and intelligent forms in other WNU texts, I again posit the theory that the six demons who appeared in this series were "merely" avatars or etheric 'progeny' of the actual demons of each respective name, and they appeared in a classical Christian image of the demon. Such bio-etheric entities are known to have fluid forms, often manifesting according to the subconscious (or even conscious) expectations and beliefs of those who summon and/or behold them.

Time Frame: The main body of this story was specifically stated to have occurred in the year 1912. The flashback sequence describing the fate of the Pan family was said to have occurred 20 years earlier, which would have been circa 1892.

EERIE #74

"The Demons of Jedediah Pan"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Jose Oritz

A few months following the events of last issue's story (the year was given in the text as still being 1912, so it was likely no more than three months later; see Time Frame below), somewhere in New Mexico close to the Mexican border, a gang of six outlaw banditos led by a man named Frito converged upon a traveling vendor automobile (two of his confederates were named Yafata and Pasqual). The third person text narration by author DuBay describing these last days of the Old West and the setting of this story were quite interesting and well-done:

"1912. The Old West was just about as old as it was going to get. Tom Swift, the electric carriage, and Coca-Cola were on their way in. Gunslingers, the horse and buggy[,] and saspirilla were on the way out. Technology was burying the frontier knee-deep in tin cans, Coke bottles and worn automobile tires.

"New Mexico was a young state then, peopled by the 'wealthy, industrialized Americanos.' It wasn't rare that neighbors to the south of the new state made occasional northern jaunts to obtain some of that wealth and technological advancement.

"They robbed, killed, raided and generally had themselves a good old time."

Just before Frito and his band charged the vendor, Yafata reminded his leader that this was a good way to obtain the corset that his wife wanted to replace the one he had lost, so that she wouldn't "break his legs" again, in addition to whatever money the man may have. Frito concurred, and also remarked that it would be a good way to obtain wax for his partner-in-crime's "scraggly" mustache. As they spurred their horses towards the slow-moving vehicle with a combination of gunshots in the air and verbal yowls, the vendor stopped and introduced himself. He was a petite, naïve, older, bald, well-dressed, well-spoken, and bespectacled good-natured con man who called himself Dr. Perry Bottles. The doctor noted that he was carrying a "wonder elixir" that was allegedly a remedy for all known ills…which a slip of the tongue on his part made clear was merely moonshine. Frito dismounted, telling the wannabe con man that all he and his friends required was a corset for his wife Conchita, some wax for Yafata's moustache…and, obviously, all the money that he had on him.
Dr. Bottles apologized and mused that they had, unfortunately, come to the wrong mobile establishment, because he had no corsets or wax in his inventory, nor did he have any money…he specialized in "pharmaceutical goods and medicinal cures" only. (He did try to interest Frito in a small tin of axle grease for Yafata, however, since it made an "excellent hair conditioner"…ha ha).

As it happened, Frito was suffering from a very painful toothache that had bothered him for many days now, and he inquired as to how effective Dr. Bottles' miracle drug really was. Bottles replied that it cured all types of pain…and halitosis. He also noted that it made a good motor fuel. Frito then mentioned his toothache had been bothering him since his wife Conchita "last rolled tortillas" [gotta love those non-politically correct days of the '70s, when it was okay to write these kinds of statements], and the bandit asked for a sample of Bottles' liquid drug. Upon imbibing a large portion of it, Frito noticed how it tasted like distilled grains, and that, "it may not cure Frito's toothache…but it will certainly numb his senses!" [I guess author DuBay believed that all early 20th century banditos referred to themselves in the third person while verbalizing with others].
Bottles then stated he was glad that Frito found it "satisfactory"…and asked him for a one dollar fee to cover the bottle of elixir [i.e., moonshine]. Frito and his troupe then had a very good laugh, the leader of the motley group of criminals stating aloud, "One dollar? Ho! Ho! Ho! Senor Doctor makes a funny, mi amigos!"

A short time and distance away, Jedediah Pan, now abandoned by his Wild Woodchuck Gang following his earlier failure in taking over the town of Crucifixion Hill, drove in the aforementioned tableau's direction in his new-fangled automated carriage (i.e., automobile). As another well-written third person narrative by the author explicates:

"In its bawdiest years, the Old West was the breeding grounds for men who became legends. Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Roy Bean, Wyatt Earp.

"Legends continued to spawn in the frontier's twilight years. Lesser illuminaries sprang into prominence overnight, their heroic deeds or gifted consmanship blasting the front pages of both tabloids and dime novels [see WNU Connections below].

"One such figure of questionable repute was Jedediah Pan…ex-con, ex-schemer, and ex-leader of the Wild Woodchuck Gang…"

It was then noted, via the omnipotent author narration, that following Pan's "humiliating" defeat in Crucifixion Hill, after his gang deserted him, he wandered from town to town, eking out a bare living in various menial odd jobs, earning just enough to keep his belly full of whiskey and his Packard vehicle full of petrol.
As the traveling Pan entered a clearing, he noticed the shirtless body of poor Dr. Bottles suspended in the air via rope by both of his arms between two large trees. When Pan stopped his vehicle to ask the man what he was doing there, the unfortunate "doctor" told his would-be rescuer, "I fear, my friend, that I am the cheese in a rather elaborate mouse trap!" The armed Frito then appeared from hiding in a nearby brush and announced to Pan that the newcomer on the scene was the "mouse" in Dr. Bottles' metaphorical musing.

In his usual sarcastic, witty banter, Frito told Pan that he would now be attending their "annual mouse roast"…provided he had the funds on him to avoid such an unpleasant outing. Pan, jumping into the situation with his own wit, noted that it was just his luck that he spent his last few dimes at the previous petrol stop he visited. Frito then told him he may yet avert sharing the unfortunate circumstances of Dr. Bottles if he happened to have a corset on him, to which Pan was also forced to respond in the negative [see Classic Dialogue below].

Frito then lamented to his latest victim that he would, unfortunately, have to join Dr. Bottles in his fate, but first the ever-gracious bandit would let him drink some of what was left of Bottles' wonder elixir, which would "cure all [his] ills" before they proceeded to kill him. When Pan noticed that Frito seemed to be suffering from severe oral pain, the bandito angrily blamed this on Bottles, since because of the "robber" strewn up before them [Frito must love being the proverbial pot that called the kettle black!] promised to heal his pain, only to give him a bottle of mere moonshine that did nothing more than make his head feel like "a hot air balloon." Pan, deftly matching Frito's penchant for ironic verbiage and faux sympathy, offered to help, stating that in the past he had "dabbled a bit in dentistry." Upon pulling the criminal's mouth open and pretending to check his oral health, Pan motioned that the latter was in a terrible state. He regretted to tell Frito that he had "contracted that most dread and dangerous of all oral disorders…

"…an incurable and highly contagious case of footus in the mouth!" [And yes, Pan was clearly having as good a time bamboozling Frito and his allies as the latter did when terrorizing a victim].
After similarly checking the other five members of Frito's crew, he declared that all of them were likewise infected with the dreaded footus contagion, and that they were all beyond help. With that morose diagnosis pronounced, each of Frito's five cohorts suddenly became wracked with terrific oral pain (none realizing, of course, that the pain was strictly psychosomatic!). As Frito graciously noted to Pan, "We are in your debt, senor. Thanks to you, Frito's banditos are only now aware of their intense pain!"

When Frito asked if there was anything at all that the bearded man before them could do to cure their oral agony, Pan replied that this was indeed their lucky day. He told them that he just happened to have three of the "finest dental hygienists in the country" hiding within the back trunk of his horseless carriage [that's "automobile" to all of you exclusive horse-riders out there!]. As Pan walked to the back of his vehicle, Frito asked him the obvious question of what they were doing in the back of his trunk, to which Pan responded that it was simply "an incredible tale," and involved a "somewhat toothless old lady hot on our tracks."

As Pan was camouflaged by the back of his vehicle, he proceeded to secretly conjure forth the three dangerous demonic beings whose etheric forms were entrapped within the enchanted metal of his armbands [don't ask me why he was so keen on not doing this in front of Frito and his crew…he never seemed to mind publicly conjuring these demons in other circumstances]. As Pan and his three freakish "dental hygienists" walked back to the front of the vehicle, the lanky older man informed Frito that the medical treatment he was about to undergo wasn't without its "drawbacks"…which included a "certain degree of pain" and "some nasty bleeding!" Pan then ordered his demonic servants to attend to their first "patient," Frito himself…after which they pounced on the screaming bandito and proceeded to extract every one of his teeth with their bare hands. Pan then announced that never again would Frito suffer from a tooth-related health problem.

The criminal's five confederates watched Frito's highly painful dental procedure go down with a rapt sense of awe, after which their leader thankfully collapsed into unconsciousness from the severe pain [yup, the demons never bothered to administer a dose of Novocain first…was that inconsiderate or what?]. The banditos' sense of transfixed awe only ended when Pan offered the following query: "Who's next?"
The five men took off into the local woods, with the three demons hot on the proverbial heels of their bashful "patients." As Pan freed Dr. Bottles from his entrapped situation, during which they could only hear the five remaining banditos screaming in agony and uttering curses in "broken English" as the three newly appointed demonic dentists rendered their professional services, the bespectacled would-be con artist was reunited with the remainder of his clothing and stock of moonshine, and retreated to his mobile store, also with the generous help of Jedediah Pan. With no need to exchange any words, the two men quietly parted company.

Nearly six months later, it was revealed that Jedediah Pan and Frito's crew never saw each other again…but the same couldn't be said for Dr. Bottles. As the latter con man was driving about in the same general area peddling the same dubious wares as before, he was again accosted by Frito and his crew…who were now blatantly without teeth thanks to the medical "treatment" doled out by Pan's makeshift dental hygienists. As Bottles left his vehicle, Frito mentioned that he was glad that he and his cohorts got the chance to thank him for his part in curing their ailment…they haven't suffered any tooth pain since [see Classic Dialogue below].
A bit enthused, Dr. Bottles told the six bicuspid-challenged men that he had since acquired just the thing for them…six pairs of "the finest wooden teeth ever made." Frito and his men discovered, upon donning the wooden teeth, that they were a perfect fit, and the leader mentioned that his wife would be so pleased to see that he once again had teeth that she would forget all about breaking his legs because he couldn't find her a new corset. When Frito courteously told Dr. Bottles that they were in his debt, the nerdish con man stoically replied, "No need to be, sir…that'll be six dollars even."

Frito and his crew, now once again having a mouth full of (albeit artificial) teeth, quickly rode off into the horizon, once again enjoying a heady laugh thanks to an inadvertent funny made by the inimitable Dr. Bottles [see Classic Dialogue below].

Comments: This second tale in the annals of "The Demons" was every bit as good as the first, but much more offbeat. It displayed author Bill DuBay's great penchant for ironic and dark humor, and the story was, to say the least, hilarious. Though this tale was pure humor, it's to the credit of the author (and artist Oritz, who maintained his good form here) that the story never degenerated into silliness or into a tone that was totally incongruous to the deadly serious subject matter we saw in the previous (and subsequent) stories in this series. It was something of an interlude in the Jedediah Pan/Jeremiah Cold saga (the latter didn't appear anywhere in the tale), but it was such a good read that this "oversight" is easily overlooked.

Frito and his gang of banditos were excellent foils for the hapless Dr. Bottles, and for the dangerously crafty Jedediah Pan, each at different points in the story. Though the titular demons appeared only towards the climax of the tale, the sections proceeding it worked well without them, and they provided an integral aspect of said climax.
This story was an example of Bill DuBay at his best during the heyday of EERIE, and backed up by Jose Oritz's great pencils, it was hard for him to go wrong.

EERIE #74 featured a great cover painting of Jedediah Pan and his three demonic servants, terrifically rendered by Ken Kelly. The cover blurb read: "Marauding bandits face the old man with the silver bracelet…

"and the terrifying "Demons of Jedediah Pan!"
The cover description on the table of contents page, possibly written by assistant editor Louise Jones, read: "Jedediah Pan…and his demon servants, Belam, Belial and Belphegor …by Ken Kelly! Jedediah Pan faces Frito's banditos in a hair raising adventure beginning on page 5!" Not far off the mark in regards to the storyline we would see upon turning to page 5, though the cover and the table of contents cover description blurbs do obscure the surprisingly welcome offbeat and humorous tone to the "hair-raising adventure" chronicled within those pages.

This was the only issue of EERIE in which Jedediah Pan or the titular demons in general ever appeared on the cover of the mag (possibly since the series didn't run an inordinately long period of time), and luckily artist Kelly did a good job, giving Pan a powerful, almost regal presence.

WNU Connections: It can be surmised that the various narrative third person captions in this story (those in question quoted in the above synopsis) implied that many of the WNU heroes, including Tom Swift, did indeed appear in stories featured in the tabloids and dime novels of the day, just as many creative mythographers have often theorized. The same can be said for RU personages who had more dramatic WNU counterparts with more spectacular careers in that reality, such as Jesse James and Wyatt Earp. It's a shame that legal matters prevented DuBay from mentioning the likes of Jonah Hex and the Rawhide Kid.

Classic Dialogue: This particular story was replete with such dialogue, but I will quote a few stand-outs below.

When Frito first confronts Pan and the latter tells the bandito that he is bereft of any money:

Frito: "I am sorry to hear that, senor. But there is yet hope. You wouldn't perchance have a corset on you?"

Pan: "Stopped wearing them after my hernia operation."

At the end of the unstated epilogue of the story, when Frito runs into Dr. Bottles again and thanks him for his part in the "cure" of his oral ailment (with toothless malapropisms included for your reading pleasure):

"We never did thank you or your amigo for curing our ailmenths.

"Ath you can thee, none of us hath had a toothache in all that time!

"Of courth, we have not eaten a juithy theak all that time either!"

At the climax of the same epilogue, when Bottles asks Frito and his cronies for $6.00 to cover the false wooden teeth he gave them, Frito simply remarked, as he rode away, "Send us your bill, amigo!"

All great stuff by DuBay at his best.

Time Frame: This tale, like the first story, was stated (in the text) as occurring in 1912, which likely makes it take place a few months, at most, after the last story. The epilogue involving Dr. Bottles and Frito and his crew take place "almost six months later," according to the text, but since this doesn't involve any of the central characters in the series, this may prove of little interest to future creative mythographers who happen to be conducting research on Pan. However, Bottles does appear in the next tale.

EERIE #75

"The Demons of Jeremiah Cold"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Jose Oritz

A short time after the events in the last story, Dr. Perry Bottles is slumped to his knees in a state of traumatic shock as he lays his eyes on an incredibly horrific sight…his three foster children murdered and hideously mutilated, their bodies crucified upon three makeshift wooden crosses, putrefying under the hot New Mexico afternoon.

Artist Oritz made sure the horrifying tableau was explicitly rendered in a full-page scene, and author DuBay left no part of the kids' horrifying ordeal that led up to the ultra-grotesque splash page to the readers' imagination, thanks to his third person narrative:

[I would advise the more sensitive and easily offended readers to skip over these quotations in their entirety…you have been warned…if you are indeed very sensitive or rather easy to offend, then skip over the quote until you reach the emboldened note proclaiming that 'it's safe to start reading again' in brackets, which follows an observation about the above dialogue that is also in brackets, the latter serving as a sort of buffer]:




"Her name had been Lisette. Just thirteen, she had the face…the body of an angel. The monsters saw that when they dragged the frightened girl into the desert, and stripped her.

"They nailed her abused body to a makeshift cross…and, laughing, peeled every inch of skin from her thrashing young body.

"Charles and Dickie had been luckier. Death came more quickly for them. The human beasts drove railroad spikes through Charles' tiny hands. Then they lopped off his legs and watched the ten-year old boy bleed to death.

"The animals crucified little Dickie, too…then slit him up the middle. The screaming child watched his own steaming guts spill onto the hot desert sand.

"When Dr. Perry Bottles found the three children, the harsh desert sun had long since glazed their tortured, bloodied bodies a darkish brown."

[And if one thinks the above was much, much more than we needed or wanted to know, an upcoming scene revealed even more gory details about the incident that DuBay had missed telling the readers this time around.]

[Note to the sensitive and easily offended: it's safe to start reading again].

A few miles from the grotesque scene now confronting Dr. Bottles, in an Old West urban development called Amity City, Jedediah Pan drove into the area, ostensibly to drown his sorrows in a local saloon. Having suffered a horrific tragedy in his own past, which took all of his family and twenty years of his life away from him, this led to his shedding much innocent blood in a desperate attempt to recover a very important piece of property and his son…the latter of which was an utter failure, the former of which now seemed like a worthless accomplishment. Shamed and having no desire to kill again, Pan has found himself aimlessly driving his vehicle from town to town, hoping to "find the elusive road to forgetfulness." But the scruffy old man in a top hat wasn't to find peace this day. As soon as he sat at the bar and ordered his favorite pleasure, a glass of whiskey, he couldn't help but overhear the men who had carried out the horrible torture and murder of Bottles' foster kids bragging about what they did in a terribly jeering fashion [I will spare my readers any further grotesque details, but suffice to say the disjointed, drunken dialogue spewed forth by those creeps filled in any gaps that DuBay failed to mention in his lengthy, explicit narrative quoted above]. As the men continued to laugh and brag about their indescribable deeds that morning, anyone within earshot learned that the man who peeled the skin off of the girl Lisette was a tall, heavily muscled Native American "chief" the men less than tastefully referred to as 'Red Fish' (and alternately as "Chief").
Jedediah Pan sipped his whiskey and listened to what amounted to four panels' worth of additional gory details of their murderous dirty work, which ended with the man who seemed to be the leader of the group (never named) referring to the kids as "freaks," and his expectation that those murders taught the "rest" of the freaks to stay out of the streets of Amity City once and for all. By this time, Pan had heard all that he could tolerate. Feigning interest in the story, Pan approached Red Fish, pretending to be polite…only to punch the large man into unconsciousness with a single blow, the wiry old man so startling his comrades with his unexpected feat of rugged toughness that none of them challenged the stranger when he left the saloon; before leaving, however, the old man loudly told the others how he was disappointed that none of the rest of them had any fight in them, since he "was just getting in the mood for bullying cowards!"

As the cool New Mexican night came about, Bottles had passed out and fell into a fitful slumber in front of his children's trussed up corpses. He was awakened as an automobile drove up to the scene, and its occupant…a young man named Jeremiah Cold…emerged from the vehicle and helped the drug peddler to his feet. The text noted that Cold was on a quest to "find himself " [how '70ish of him!], as he personally took the blame for a town full of innocents who were slaughtered in part due to his biological father's search for him. As Cold helped the diminutive old man recover his children's corpses, Bottles explained to him that the kids each had physical deformities or handicaps that labeled them "freaks" or outcasts [Lisette had only stumps for hands, Charles was born a hunchback (a frequently recurring affliction in the WNU, it seems), and the youngest, Dickie, was a deaf mute]. He took the children in when their parents, whom Bottles met in the course of his travels, didn't want them. As Bottles stated, "Nature cursed them…and man mimicked nature. People laughed at them…their parents felt violently the stigma of their births." Bottles told their family of a small town named Kalerville, which was inhabited by peaceful people who were deformed, amputees, handicapped, and likely (in at least some cases) non-posthuman mutants. There, they could live productive lives and be accepted by those around them. Bottles stumbled across Kalerville during his travels as a peddler of pharmaceutical wares, and he said that he never met a kinder and more good-hearted group of people than the Kalerville folk. The traveling salesman then told his new friend that he lived in Kalerville when he wasn't traveling, and he considered the townsfolk there to be the closest thing to family that he had, and he loved the three murdered kids as if they were his own.
According to Bottles, the town was founded by "a misfit of nature" that no one now living there had ever seen, a man named Kaler, who now supposedly lived somewhere in the mountains overlooking the town [this interesting plotline was never picked up on during or after this story…hopefully, more research will be done on the nature of this "Kaler" individual in the future].

As Bottles and Cold settled into the town of misfits, the former told his new friends that his kids were undoubtedly killed by people from nearby Amity City, as they loathed anyone native to Kalerville frequenting their beloved "normal" streets. Bottles also mentioned that since those people had now committed a horrible murder, they would likely be coming back for more, probably invading the town itself. Hoping to help these people in any way he could, Cold elected to stay in the town for a while.

Later in the evening, a snooping Jedediah Pan witnessed the unnamed leader of the killers and Red Fish loading a rapid fire Gattling gun into a bi-plane that the former owned, the leader's dialogue making it clear that, as Bottles had correctly surmised, they intended to use the plane to lead a huge posse into Kalerville and kill everyone in that town [Red Fish appeared to be almost mute, which makes him a 'pot calling the kettle black' for siding with the "normals," the latter of whom were all a bunch of what modern people on the Left would call 'Stupid White Men']. Though Pan had no idea what the leader of these killer bullies meant when he said they would be hunting "monsters," he correctly deduced that they were up to no good, so he elected to follow the posse to wherever they were going.

With Red Fish's flying "murder machine" in the lead, a large group of Amity City's able-bodied men on single horses, carriages, and even a few automobiles rushed towards nearby Kalerville with blood in their eyes, fueled by unthinking ignorance and hatred.
As the ignorance-enraged posse entered the mostly sleeping town, they began their murderous onslaught by shooting the few misfits who happened to be wandering the evening streets. As the sounds of the massacre awakened the entire town, the outnumbered townsfolk grabbed whatever they could use as weapons, including a few rifles, and rushed to defend their home. Jeremiah Cold and Dr. Bottles, each wielding a rifle, joined the melee, doing the best they could to drive the murderous interlopers away. Nevertheless, the mob from Amity, especially with the bi-plane on their side, were taking a huge toll on the embattled populace of Kalerville. As author DuBay's text ominously described the horrid proceedings:

"There seemed little hope for the hopelessly outnumbered freaks…hurling down weapons in resignation…fear.

"Almost all believed this to be the night they were to be sent to Hell for the crimes of their birth."

Just as Cold and Bottles ran out of ammo, the young man told his older friend that he had no choice but to utilize the mystic silver bracelet on his right wrist, despite the fact that he always prayed he would never have to resort to it. Upon seeing the bracelet in full view for the first time, Bottles was startled, as he recalled seeing another like it just a few months earlier. Just then (as if on cue) the two noticed an automobile heading swiftly towards them, and they initially assumed it was owned by the enemy. Just as Jeremiah grasped a rifle from one of the other men and began taking shots at the rapidly approaching vehicle, Bottles recognized its driver and stayed Cold's hand, telling him that he had met the man driving the vehicle before, and that he was there to help them.
The driver, of course, turned out to be Jedediah Pan. When Jeremiah Cold saw who it was, he told Bottles that he should have let him kill Pan, saying that he was likely there to aid in the slaughter. When the father and son exchanged remarks, Bottles intervened and told them that they had to put their differences aside for the time being. As more and more of the misfit populace of the peaceful town were being mowed down by the enemy's bullets, Bottles pleaded to Pan to use his bracelet to summon his demonic servants to save him now, just as he did before. Both father and son agreed that they must do so, and they consequently ran into the line of fire. As Pan lamented, "He's right, boy! Only one thing's going to stop all this killing…
"…more killing! And that's up to us…
"…and the demons of Hell!"

As soon as they moved closer to the enemy, father and son summoned the two sets of three demons that each armband controlled…Cold materialized Asmodeus, Ahriman, and Astaroth, whereas Pan summoned forth Belial, Balam, and Belphegor [or inferior avatars thereof].
The text stated: "Once, long, long ago…Jedediah Pan unearthed forgotten secrets…secrets of conjuring the most powerful demons from the pits of eternal Hell. He locked those secrets within two mystical bracelets. Bands he vowed would remain on his wrists and those of his descendants. At the mention of the demons' name, the monsters materialized…ready to serve the wearer of the fabled Pan bracelets. Ready to kill!"

The six demonic creatures brutally waded into the ground posse, literally ripping the men to pieces and upturning their vehicles and carriages, taking them too unawares to turn their firearms on the small but mighty quintet of creatures. Within minutes, the six demons had reduced every member of the posse attacking on the ground to a mass of dismembered limbs, torsos, and heads [most of their attack on the posse were well-rendered by artist Oritz in a single, way cool full-page panel].

Now, only the leader and Red Fish remained, due to the fact that they were airborne in the bi-plane. Upon witnessing the slaughter of their entire ground posse, the leader and his giant Amerindian companion turned the flying "death machine" towards Cold and the demons. Before they could use the Gattling gun, however, Cold took advantage of his great athletic prowess by managing to grab onto the plane's landing strut as it flew close to the battlefield. This rendered the aero-plane unable to gain altitude due to the added weight, and the plane's momentum was quickly carrying it towards a nearby cliff. Unable to acquire any altitude and save themselves from impacting with the cliff side unless they rid themselves of the excess weight, the leader of the posse implored Red Fish to blast the invader off of their plane with the Gattling gun. The evil Amerindian attempted to do just that, but his aim wasn't true, considering the difficulty of trying to pilot and fire at the same time, and Cold was able to wiggle his body out of the way of the lethal lead fusillade. The young man let go of the landing strut just several seconds before the bi-plane hit the cliff, consigning the two worst of the posse to a fiery death.

Witnessing the latter spectacle as the battered Jeremiah Cold slowly walked back to his new friends, Jedediah Pan bragged to Bottles that the incredible feat they just witnessed was done by "his boy," but he also let him know that if he ever told his son how proud he was of him, he would break both of the medicine peddlar's legs and "stick them where the daylight never shines."
As Pan and Bottles helped Cold stay on his feet, the old man couldn't help telling his biological son that he did well, to which Jeremiah replied, "You did okay yourself, old man. For once, you did your killing on the right side of the law!"

As they rejoined the remainder of the Kalerville townsfolk, author DuBay's well-written text made very penchant observations about Pan and Cold, respectively, by this point in time:

"A grizzled, bearded old man came to know his son a little better that night.

"He knew he had not yet earned the right to call Jeremiah Cold son…but he hoped that with time…understanding…the boy would come to accept him."

"A confused youth saw the old man's actions as an attempt at penance…reparation for his earlier crimes.

"He saw that maybe one day, he could call this man father. One day, perhaps. But this was not yet the day!"

Regarding Bottles and the surviving townsfolk of Kalerville, the text lamented:

"A balding, bespectacled medicine drummer did not see or sense the unspoken affection between man and boy. For him, the night had been a nightmare, blocking all else from his haunted thoughts.

"He had lost his only children this day.

"Hatred. Fear. Misunderstanding…prejudice had caused needless, wasteful deaths.

"For the solemn survivors, it was not a victory…but a battle that should never have been.

"He had seen friends, loved ones slaughtered mercilessly…needlessly. For him, the night was far from over. He had yet to bury his dead!"

Comments: Though this tale certainly wasn't the best of the series, and it was rather formulaic and fairly simplistic in the plot and the execution of the same, it nevertheless displayed how the horror genre, as well as its distant cousin, the sci-fi genre, could tell important, socially relevant stories with themes that we mundane people are all too familiar with. The misfits of Kalerville were good stand-ins for any persecuted minority whom "polite society" or the nearly all-powerful but ever mutable force known as 'conventional wisdom' brands as "monsters" in any given era of time for any given political and/or cultural purpose…and how insanely the majority of society can devalue and deny the very humanity of the minority group in question, sometimes to the point of rationalizing draconian and bloody atrocities against them.
As DuBay deftly showed in this tale (though it was far from his best work on this series or elsewhere, and far from the only series in Warren Comics during this decade to deal with these particular thematic elements), fear, ignorance, hatred, and misunderstanding can lead to much more horrific atrocities than any vampire or werewolf could possibly mete out. As the uncomfortable reader was no doubt reminded, he/she can readily doubt the existence of vampires, werewolves, man-made monsters, ghouls, demons, etc…but they can hardly deny the existence of prejudice and ignorance in the world they live in, nor can they deny the often loaded degree of rationalizations given to maintain bigotry and privilege for one group over another.

As it was, this story, despite being rather formulaic, was highly disturbing and horrific, and the bloody aftermath of Bottles' three murdered foster kids depicted with explicit clarity by the talented and moody artist Jose Oritz was very difficult to behold. By enduring this, the reader couldn't help feeling even more horror at imagining how the "actual" sight must have affected Perry Bottles himself, especially since he was portrayed largely as a comic relief buffoon in the previous story. Though one could laugh (in a dark way) at the victimization he received by Frito and his gang of banditos in the previous story in this series, this time around one felt like fainting at the mere thought of what the poor man must have went through at the horrible sight he was facing on the splash page of this tale.

When Pan decked Red Fish during the second scene in this story, he called the big guy a "cowardly, murdering red skin"…it should be noted that in those days, open bigotry against racial and ethnic minorities was very socially acceptable, and it was all-too common for white men of every sort of disposition and character to harbor racist, ethnic, and sexist prejudices, much as prejudice against people under 18 are common and socially acceptable today…though Pan's admittedly racist remark might offend some of the folks of the modern far Left who delight in being offended whenever they see a racial, ethnic, or sexual minority being depicted as anything other than a great and noble hero, I personally think that author DuBay should be commended for his topical accuracy, as well as making it clear that not all people of racial or ethnic minorities were inherently valorous, wise, and overflowing with nobility…people of all races and ethnic groups during the frontier days committed horrible atrocities, just as people of every color, ethnic affiliation, both sexes, and every conceivable sexual orientation continue to commit horrible atrocities across the world today…revisionist history of any kind besmirches the important lessons that history has to tell all of us, it serves no expedient political purpose for anyone, and by focusing blame on any specific group of people for any particular social ill, we miss perhaps the most important lesson of them all (after all, most people of any color, sexual orientation, and both genders accept the basic premise of the socio-economic world order we live under today while blaming each other for everything that goes wrong, but that's a whole other topic)…people of the far Right who routinely degrade minority groups and valorize white male heterosexuals and people of the far Left who routinely degrade white heterosexual males and valorize anyone who isn't white, male, and heterosexual, both presently and retroactively in either case, should both take heed of this lesson, IMHO…
…the '70s was a unique decade that allowed a degree of honesty in published writings and cinema not seen before or since then, and it should be noted that Warren took full advantage of this, usually to good effect. I honestly believe that Warren Comics couldn't have reached its greatest period of creativity if part of its history didn't flow through the 1970s.

If stating my opinion in this manner happens to piss off anyone from any side of the political spectrum, then I think this is a positive thing, since that means I made you think, no matter how angry or annoyed you managed to get in the process. Personally, I prefer forward-thinking to either right-wing or left-wing thinking, and to truly look at all aspects of humanity with an open eye and an open mind, favoring no one group over another, and opposing all manifestations of prejudice that I see, while also putting such manifestations in their proper perspective given the time period in which they appear. I also personally believe that honesty and accuracy is much more important than blindly giving "support" to any one specific group of people, or certain groups (be they the 'majority' or 'minorities'), and lying or fudging facts for anyone is ignoble and a major disservice to everyone. This is going to anger and bug certain of my readers, of course, but my ultimate purpose in stating controversial opinions and doing controversial analyses and deconstructions is to get you good people to think, which is precisely what the Warren creative teams were often attempting to do, and not simply to get you mad or irritated…oftentimes, the latter two feelings are unavoidable side-effects of the thinking process.

This story was the only one in the series to feature all six of the demons together, and the first story to present Pan and Cold as allies, beginning the process of seeing each other as father and son rather than enemies. This was the characterization high point of the series, IMO.

Much of the dialogue in this tale wasn't top notch, in contrast to most of the dialogue in the previous two stories, and it seemed that DuBay and (to a lesser extent) Oritz rushed to complete this tale, which may explain its rather formulaic structure as opposed to the fairly offbeat nature of the two previous tales. The next story in the series would be an improvement, but the fifth and final entry would be even more obviously rushed, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the third person narrative in the text still had some stand-out (if at times terribly explicit) moments, and some of these were quoted above.
This entry in the series, more than any other, was unsuited for sensitive or easily offended readers, but the horrific and disturbing moments all had a purpose and didn't appear to be gratuitous or to have a "tacked on for shock value alone" feeling (for that kind of stuff, you can watch "South Park").

Time Frame: This story was also said to have occurred in the year 1912 via the text. I would say it occurred a bit over six months after the main body of the last story, and perhaps (at most) one month after Dr. Bottles' appearance in the previous story's epilogue (though it wasn't listed as such). Hence, I opine that this tale occurred later in the year.

EERIE #77

"Demons of Nob Hill"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Jose Oritz

About two years after the previous story [see Time Frame below], Jedediah Pan and Jeremiah Cold now have a better relationship with each other due to a series of untold exploits, even though Cold has yet to officially accept Pan as his father. They arrive together in the great metropolis of San Francisco via cab, where Pan is treating his son to a vacation, which he can afford due to his recent selling of his automobile [it must have been worth a fairly substantial sum of money to an early collector if it's enough to allow the two men to live the "good life" for a month, as Pan alludes in the story]. As they arrive in front of their rather lavish hotel, Pan notes that he is excited to finally get the chance to visit the vaunted Golden State. As the two carry their luggage into their temporary home, both barely pay attention to a scurvy looking man who is peddling his knife-sharpening business near the entrance [and yup, I mention this since it's a very important plot point for this story].

As they enter the hotel exchanging banter about the trip here, Pan tells his son, "Admit, boy…you were as tired of that New Mexico desert as me…and we were both sick to death of fighting Mexicans, Indians and prejudice!" [As I noted in a probably controversial anecdote in the Comments section of the previous story, in full topical fashion Jedediah Pan's own then-acceptable prejudices against various minority groups stood in marked contrast to his stated dislike for bigotry…a hypocritical phenomenon that is not too uncommon even today, as I would wager that all politically active people have at one time or another come upon people who battle valiantly against one form of prejudice, but fully support another type, claiming that the two aren't morally comparable and trying to downplay the many parallels between the two while focusing on the few significant differences that punctuate all disparate minority civil rights movements]. Cold announced to his erstwhile biological father that he had no idea why he traveled here with him, to which Pan replied, "Ha ha! The answer to that one's easy, too, boy…you love me! You just ain't accepted it yet!" As the unlikely father and son duo checked into their rooms, they engaged in additional ironic banter regarding Pan's request that his son find himself a job in San Francisco once the money for the sale of his "tin lizzie" runs out so that he can support them both, with Cold making it clear that he never agreed to support the man whom he is now just beginning to accept as a real father (what happened to Judge Cold, the man who raised Jeremiah as his own and was the only father he knew for the first 20 years of his life, and whom Jeremiah was very close with, is unknown, as the judge never appeared again after the first story). As the two walked up the stairs, they had no idea that they were being watched by the professional knife sharpener who peddled his business outside and just within the doors of this (unnamed) establishment…a man who was obviously mentally unbalanced.

That afternoon, as Jedediah Pan slumbered after his long trip to San Francisco, a dark figure picked his lock and entered his hotel room, raising what looked like a large kitchen knife. The ever-alert Pan woke up just in time to see his mysterious assailant sever his right hand…the one upon which he wore his mystical silver armband. Despite the shock, agony, and horror, the stern Pan reached for the bracelet loosely attached to his severed hand, only to be stopped when his assailant's knife was expertly thrown into the wall right before his face. Removing the bracelet from Pan's severed limb and quickly placing it on his own wrist, the assailant hastily used the power of the armband to summon forth the demonic avatar of Belial. Obviously possessing full knowledge of the bracelet's power, he ordered the deadly little demonic imp to attack and kill the still startled and barely functional old man cringing before him.

Just then, Jeremiah Cold, having heard all the commotion in his adjoining room, shouldered the door to his father's room open and intervened in the situation. The mysterious assailant then ordered his new demonic servant to belay the order to kill Pan and to stop Cold instead. After being (conveniently) hurled into a nearby bookcase [and to think most hotels I stayed in only provided me with a single Bible to read!] by his demonic opponent, Cold grabbed a lamp with a heavy metallic body and viciously bludgeoned his demonic attacker to (temporary) death. In the midst of the melee, however, the human agency behind this whole incident escaped out a window [but don't ask me how he jumped without breaking a leg, since they were at least on the second floor].

A short time later, Jeremiah Cold had summoned a physician to care for his seriously injured father, and the doctor had bandaged the stump of Jedediah Pan's severed right hand and sedated him. When the doctor inquired as to what went down here, Cold was incredulous…he mentioned how he and the old man had just arrived in town that morning, and they didn't know anybody there. As the doctor pointed out, "This city isn't as civilized as some people think, young man. The wharf area…the Barbary district draws riffraff to this city! [See WNU Connections below.]

"Gunslingers…banditos…outlaws…pirates…! The world's becoming too civil for them, too fast! The Great Frontier is dead…and they've no place left to go!

"So they flock together…here…and hunt the streets for likely victims to plunder."

When the doctor recalled that Cold informed him that Pan was wearing a silver bracelet just like the one the young man himself was then wearing, he opined that perhaps this was what the mystery assailant was after, and the criminal simply severed the old man's hand as the most expedient means of acquiring the jewelry. Cold, however, was aware that the man who took the bracelet must be aware of its dangerous supernatural attributes. He announced that he was going to find the man responsible for this, and he left Pan in the doctor's care, adding, "If he comes to, don't tell him what I'm up to. He doesn't approve of my fighting other people's battles!"

Upon arriving in the infamous Barbary district, Cold discovered that the mystery assailant's trail wasn't exactly difficult to locate. The young man entered a saloon where the tell-tale signs of the demons were strewn right in front of him like a gory, grotesque work of abstract art…the entire floor was littered with dismembered human body parts, all of which had obviously been literally ripped from the torsos they were originally a part of.
When Jeremiah asked an extremely shaken bartender what had occurred, the barely coherent man told him that an older gent arrived in the establishment, and stared at everyone in the room "hatefully." Then, he heard horrible screams as the stranger shouted something about demons appearing…then, "out of the blue," a trio of hideous creatures appeared and began "murdering…slaughtering people with their bare hands…!"

Cold asked the stunned man if he ever saw their mystery assailant before, to which he replied that he had…the "old codger" had entered the establishment a few times before, and he was fairly well known for running a low tier business in which he sharpened knives for the wealthy in the city. Harboring crazed power fantasies (due to his desire to be just like the people whom he did his menial work for), the deranged man often referred to himself as the "King of Nob Hill," the latter locale being an incline that housed a plush, ritzy area of San Francisco.
The bartender then concluded his recollection by noting that once the "King of Nob Hill" was beaten up in the saloon after a card game went sour, the man vowed to return there one day and to make everyone remotely involved in the situation pay for what they did. "I…I'm still not sure how…but he did just that!" the shaken witness concluded. But Jeremiah Cold knew, and he immediately headed for the Nob Hill area of the gleaming city.

In a high-class private club sitting atop Nob Hill, it's self-proclaimed "King" was now living much like one…he sat in a large expensive chair in the middle of the club, with two attractive women forced to sit on his lap as his personal concubines, and with his three demonic servants at his side. Also at his beck and call were the club musicians, who were forced to play in his honor…and a large wad of bloody human body parts lay before him, the result of patrons and staff who had initially resisted his attempt to take over and "rule" the club. The man now referred to himself as "the King of San Francisco," and infatuated with his newfound power, he ranted, "No more will I have to bear the jeers…the insults of the ignorant! No more must I be subserviant [sic] to those with wealth…status!" When he then attempted to force one of his unwilling concubines to be the "first of [his] many pleasures," one of the angered male staff members, who was possibly romantically involved with the woman, overcame his fear and attacked his self-proclaimed king. However, before the brave man could thoroughly thrash the "King of Nob Hill," at the latter's command his three demonic servants tore one of the man's arms off and hurled his body out a window of the club, where he fell two stories to his death.
As fate would have it, however, the brave but ultimately doomed man landed at the feet of the searching Jeremiah Cold…who now realized that he had just located the whereabouts of his father's attacker, and his item of mystical jewelry.

Back inside the club, the "King of Nob Hill" was again ranting to his new "subjects" how they could do nothing to defy him, that his demonic servants were undefeatable, blah blah blah, telling them, "I can take what I want…do as I please…! Nothingno one can raise a hand to stop me…!" To which, right on ironic cue, Jedediah Pan's severed right hand was thrown onto the startled would-be king's protruding belly. He then looked up to see the stoic culprit of this grotesque act of scene-stealing, a both familiar and unwelcome face…Jeremiah Cold.

Though one would expect Cold to do the common sense thing and use his own mystic wrist band to summon the three demons trapped within it to battle the other three demons while he personally deals with the "King of Nob Hill" (which would have been the most exciting and entertaining thing to do for the benefit of the reader, also), that type of common sense apparently never entered Cold's mind [was he really that reluctant to call upon these demons, even when the need to do so was extremely dire?]. Instead, Jeremiah Cold once again proceeded to battle the three attacking demons with his own hands and feet! And, again as always, the tough young man managed to hold his own with all three of these demons by himself in a very brutal, no-holds-barred battle! [Jeremiah Cold was the living embodiment of what Ken Begg over on the Jabootu Bad Movies Dimension web site would call the Heroes Death Exemption when it comes to protagonists in monster flicks…is this enough to argue for bringing the muse Jabootu into the WNU?]. I should also probably point out that none of the many surviving patrons in that club bothered to raise a single hand (or heavy inanimate object such as a violin, or liquor bottle, etc.) to help the only person in the club who was battling against their barbaric captor and his murderous demons (it's a shame that Cold entered the establishment only after the single other brave soul had been dispatched…too bad he didn't have Cold's "Heroes Death Exemption" attribute! I guess Jabootu only blesses a few…otherwise, many more people in these incidents would survive by fighting the monsters or supernatural slasher dude to a standstill).

As the angered and terrified "King of Nob Hill" continued to shout and order his three demonic servants to kill the brave interloper, his latest rants were suddenly cut off by a knife hurled into his heart, fatally injuring him. When this occurred, the three demons dematerialized. Did one of the club members with a talent for knives finally decide to help the young man risking life and (literally) limb for all of them?
No…as a seriously battered Jeremiah Cold looked up, his savior turned out to be none other than his now single-handed sire, Jedediah Pan, who had evidently followed him to Nob Hill. As the weakened but still tough-as-nails Pan helped his equally impressive son to his feet, the two referred to each other as "father" and "son" respectively for the first time. Now, both no longer had any personal reason to avoid acknowledging their relationship to each other in their verbal exchanges.

Immediately following this incident, Cold noticed that the barely living "King of Nob Hill" had crawled out the front door of the club, and finally collapsed dead with his wrist (conveniently) laying across a rail which the local trolley cars used to travel. Again on cue, a trolley drove by towards a nearby stop and ran over the deposed "king's" wrist, severing his arm and freeing the silver bracelet from his body. As Pan noted, "There was nothing we could do, son. The Fates made him pay for his crimes." When Cold asked his father if they would ever know who that man was and how he knew of the mystic wristbands, Pan answered his son, "Just another hapless victim, tired of being trod upon by the misery of life. Some time…some place…he must have seen me use the bracelet to summon the demons. Maybe he thought it would solve all of his problems. Yet, like always…the bracelet only caused him more misery" [though, like always, not half as much misery as it caused others in his vicinity!].
When Cold asked his father about recovering the bracelet, Pan (unwisely) told him to just leave it behind, since it had already caused "enough suffering" [so leaving it to be recovered by who-knows-who, especially after what just went down on Nob Hill, is preferable to recovering it themselves and maybe disposing of it in a mystically appropriate fashion? Maybe you are getting senile, Jedediah…not that your son bothered to argue the point with you, and he was only in his early 20s!]

As fate would once again have it, however, as the father and son team helped each other to leave the area, one curious individual…obviously a man of the cloth…was among the crowd who witnessed the dismemberment of the deposed "King of Nob Hill"…and the holy man proceeded to recover the armband from the dead man's person (which would lead into the storyline of the next…and final entry…of this series).

Comments: This chapter in the series was less formulaic than the last, and once again carried with it a message that was a common theme in many Warren Comics stories and series, as well as several of the comics being published by their stronger market/newsstand competitors, Marvel and DC, during the '70s…social relevance. Just as Warren's excellent and equally violent and disturbing EERIE series, "Night of the Jackass" (indexed elsewhere on this site) took a stab at highlighting, the deranged effect that a class-divided society like capitalism could have upon the numerous "have-nots" and result in the formation of a "lumpenproletariat" (as Karl Marx predicted) made up of the criminal and debased cast-offs from the working class was explored.

Though this is slowly changing, such topics can scarcely be explored or analyzed in modern writings during the current conservative dominance and rampant patriotic correctness of America's mass media without being very heavily disguised, lest accusations of "class warfare" be brought against the writer…and this is a social war that most modern liberals, in contrast to their brave and sometimes radical equivalents from the late '60s and '70s prior to the Reagan years, are reluctant or totally unwilling to fight, as they consider it bad form, and failing to embrace the market system even as you're duly criticizing it is today considered something akin to treason or disloyal to the noble abstract concepts connected to the fabled American Dream.

Of course, on the other side of the proverbial coin, as the theme of this story pointed out, and which the entirety of the aforementioned "Night of the Jackass" series did much more effectively, when people of the working class allow themselves to act just like the worst of the ruling class and make a crude duplication of their perceived behavior by treating others around them (rich or otherwise) as disposable fodder who exist solely to please them alone, only serves to help slide society further into chaos. Emulating what one perceives to be bad in society rather than opposing it and acting totally to the contrary of that which you oppose is what separates the jackassers and the "King of Nob Hill" from the likes of Captain America…or Jeremiah Cold. This important lesson is also brought to bear in these tales, which is many kudos for the horror medium that Warren took such good advantage of mostly during the '60s and '70s.

Of course, Warren (and their imitators, including Skywald) owe a major nod of the hat to E.C. Comics during its pre-Code days of the early '50s, when they often told crude but salient morality tales in their famous [or infamous] horror mags, such as TALES FROM THE CRYPT and VAULT OF HORROR, which inspired EERIE and its parent mag CREEPY, right down to the simultaneously grotesque and goofy, dark humor and bad pun-loving horror host characters (Cousin Eerie and Uncle Creepy were little different in terms of mannerisms than the more famous Crypt Keeper and his companion E.C. horror hosts, like the Vault Keeper). Nevertheless, it should be noted that unlike some of the noble characters in Warren's series stories, E.C., in this author's opinion, never made as much use of the horror medium, as they never depicted true nobility or heroism in their stories, thus suggesting (as Warren proved to be false) that good role models could never be found in such a medium. It's also my opinion that doing nothing more than wallowing in cynicism where no good can exist, despite the important morality lessons that such stories can convey to the reader, undoubtedly had much to do with pegging the horror genre as a type of dreary, foreboding, mental junk food unfit for consumers who are looking for some of the best aspects of humanity on display, rather than only the worst our species can produce (if you prefer the latter, it's always better to watch FOX "News" rather than read a horror story…ahhhh, I kid the Fox staffers!).

The writing by DuBay was improved over the last story, though this time around we had a dearth of profound text, with the dialogue being fairly well-rendered, but with few truly good moments as we saw in previous tales. Further, the closer relationship forged by Jedediah Pan and Jeremiah Cold as both traveled on the road towards redemption provided some excellent characterization. As such, we can almost forgive the lack of common sense displayed by both Cold and Pan at various points in the story (particularly during the climactic battle against the demons and the decision to leave the discarded wrist band behind at the end of the story, respectively). Artist Oritz's work once again expertly rendered the grotesque and over-the-top violence meted out on hapless humans by the titular demons of this series, which many modern readers may find to share some common ground with certain examples of Image Comics' output from its inception in the early '90s to the present (albeit to a lesser extent today than its early years a decade ago, at this writing).

The Warren stories were often more offbeat than most of Marvel and DC's output at the time, because since Warren plugged all but the most popular and enduring of its series (e.g., Vampirella, Pantha, the Rook) to have finite life-spans, the writers and editors didn't hesitate to change the status quo more fundamentally with their characters, often in shocking and surprising ways, such as Jedediah's unexpected loss of a hand in this story (and yes, this was two decades before DC literally took the hand from one of their most popular and enduring characters, Aquaman, in an attempt to stir things up so as to increase sales for a noble but flagging super-hero deeply in need of more readers). This formed much of the appeal and interest in Warren's output before the onset of the '80s, when the declining company attempted to save itself by duplicating Marvel and DC's formulae, something its creative team were mostly ill-suited for. One can argue (and often has) that Skywald's rival output during the '70s was even more offbeat, especially with the long defunct company's recent resurgence in popularity, but having read some of Skywald's product, it's my personal opinion (unpopular or otherwise) that Skywald usually failed to craft tales as competently written as much of Warren's product during their heyday. Sorry, Skywald.

It's interesting to note that with this story, the series moves from the dwindling frontier lands of New Mexico to the big urban center of San Francisco. This was an interesting change, but I'll leave it to the individual reader to decide what type of environment the titular demons fared better in.

WNU Connections: It should be noted here, even in passing, that this is the second time (to my knowledge) that a prominent Warren series story took place in the savage early 20th century urban locale of the Barbary Coast, San Francisco. Dracula-Mordante also made an extratemporal visit there, albeit 22 years earlier than this story, courtesy of the Conjuress's time-warping magicks (see my Index to Warren's "Dracula" series elsewhere on this site, specifically the first story of Dracula-Mordante's solo series that ran in EERIE). As is often the case in the WNU, RU urban legends and dangerous locales were much more pronounced in the former reality, a point also well played out with London's infamous East End in Alan Moore's LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN Vol. 1.

Time Frame: The text at the beginning of this story places this tale in 1914, meaning that it takes place roughly two years after the previous story, thus giving Jedediah Pan and Jeremiah Cold time to slowly but surely forge a closer relationship during other, as yet untold adventures together, all of which was clearly implied in the dialogue. And since the next story in the series (in the very same issue of EERIE, as it turns out) took place in the summer of '14, this story likely occurred in the late spring or early summer of 1914, to be more specific [which is a hell of a time to move to California!]. This story, which jumped the series ahead two years in time, featured the culmination of Cold's full acceptance of Pan as his father, and the two fully acknowledging each other as father and son, a situation that was a relatively long time in coming, and understandably so when one considers what happened during their first meeting, as depicted in EERIE #72.

EERIE #77

"The Demons of Father Pain"

Story: Bill DuBay

Art: Jose Oritz (with color provided by Peggy DuBay)

In the middle of a summer evening in San Francisco, circa 1914 [see Time Frame below], the demonic being called Belial was painfully depriving an unidentified man of his limbs, as well as all the cash he had on him at the time. Carrying several handfuls of money with him [didn't the people of early 20th century San Francisco use wallets?], the demonic creature took his stolen booty into the Mission Dolores Orphanage, where he was joined by his two demonic cohorts, who similarly held a bundle of capital in their hands [likely absconded from people who similarly refused to store their scratch in wallets]. All of this cash was dutifully dumped into a collection dish held out by the seedy looking priest who had picked up the silver armband in the previous story, who then returned the demonic avatars to their dispersed etheric state that is normally entrapped within the metal of the bracelet, telling them, "I will see you again come tomorrow eve."

Elsewhere in San Francisco, the following day, in a cheap hotel room located within the Barbary district, a weary Jedediah Pan was looking ominously at a newspaper clipping in the most recent issue of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. His son, Jeremiah Cold, asked him if his wrist was still hurting him, but the old man responded in the negative, pointing out to an article of the paper as the source of his despondency: three people were brutally killed by a "midnight mauler" who tore his victims limb-from-limb before robbing them. Both men correctly deduced the source of this highly distinctive murder style, also correctly surmising that someone found Pan's discarded armband and was using the demons to steal for him, committing acts of murder and mutilation along the way. Pan then expressed his guilt over having left the armband behind for anyone to find instead of destroying or hiding it [gee, do ya think, Jedediah? A bit too late for recriminations now, though]. His son consoled him, telling him [somewhat inexplicably] that he shouldn't "shoulder the guilt for someone else's actions" [true, but Pan was indirectly responsible for all of this due to his absent-mindedly leaving that bracelet aside in a fit of pique]. Since Pan took full responsibility due to the fact that he was the one who constructed both of those wristbands so long ago in the first place, he declared that it was his responsibility to locate and destroy the errant bracelet and the demonic horrors locked within it for good, and Cold resolved to help his father in this latest endeavor.
When Pan noted that all of the killings occurred within the neighborhood of an old Spanish mission, they knew precisely which area of the city to start looking.

That evening, Pan and Cold staked out the neighborhood, watching many of its passer-bys walk the streets, until finally a hapless drunken hobo was attacked by the demon Belial. As the creature began to rip the poor man to pieces, Pan leapt upon the creature and attempted to remove him from the hobo with his bare hands, only to be easily tossed aside. Two patrolling police officers noticed the melee, and they shot at the demon, but apparently their small arms fire and limited amount of ammo wasn't sufficient to temporarily bring the hellish avatar down. The demonic imp then attacked the officers and ripped them to pieces in his characteristic style of tear-and-gore. The horrified and regretful Jedediah Pan again leapt upon the demon in a futile attempt to save the officers' lives [where the hell was his previously steadfast son, Jeremiah Cold?]. Belial again hurled the lanky body of Pan from his person [so to speak], but this time the old man struck a brick wall with great force. As Belial began to rob the two police officers of their cash supply, the late-arriving Jeremiah Cold ran to his father's side.

But it was too late…Jedediah Pan's skull had been split open upon impact with the wall, and he had apparently died immediately. Now the young man was thoroughly enraged, and he resolved to destroy Belial right then and there. I would like to say that he had the common sense to use his own wristband to summon the three demons that he commanded to tear Belial apart, but I can't or I would be lying; Cold instead [and once again!] launched himself at the demon with his own bare hands. I would also like to say that the inimitable Cold defeated the demon one-on-one, since he managed to do so in single battle with all three demonic imps more than once in the past, but again, I would be lying if I did…this time the super-strong Belial recovered from Cold's incessant pummeling and kicked the young man into the same nearby brick wall that killed his father, but with less force; Cold had a nasty head wound, but it was non-fatal [so neither Pan nor Cold brought a firearm, which they could have purchased in the seedy areas of the Barbary wharf without much difficulty, nor did they even bring blades or striking objects of some kind with them? I can only assume that both men were getting really foolish and over-confidant in their old age and young age, respectively]. The diminutive demon then robbed the insensate Cold of his cash supply while inexplicably leaving him alive, and hurried off back to the mission. Regaining consciousness and still barely functional, the rage-filled, determined Jeremiah Cold followed the creature back to his lair.

When the demons brought back their latest handful of scoots to the pastor of the mission, he thanked them again…for providing "more wealth to the needy." He further said, "I'm also tempted to say God bless you, my children!" [the closest attempt author DuBay made in regards to a witty comment in this entire hastily completed story]. The celebration, however, was interrupted by the angry, injured Jeremiah Cold, who burst into the mission after following Belial there, and who called out the priest right after he made his aforementioned almost-blessing ("You do that, priest…you tell your God to bless them! You're all going to need it where you're going!"). The three demons (without needing to be commanded to do so this time, natch) all attacked Cold…who was surprised when the priest ordered them to halt the attack, and quickly dematerialized them back into his silver armband [interestingly, though these armbands were always described as being silver in color within the text and dialogue of all the previous stories in the series, in this colorized exploit they were colored a dull bronze…I'll attribute this to a coloring error, since the entire story was poorly colored].

The remorseful priest then helped the injured young man to his feet, to which Cold asked him the obvious question as to why he prevented the demons from killing him like they did all of the others whom they encountered under the command of this man of the cloth. The priest was thoroughly confused, and seemed genuinely unaware of what "others" were killed. The angry Jeremiah Cold then grabbed the priest by the lapel of his robe and told him what the demons had done in the process of acquiring the money for the needy under the pastor's command. The priest was highly (and sincerely) disconcerted, remarking that he never commanded the demons to kill anyone, but he simply ordered them to "gather money." Cold, using some common sense that he has previously displayed a deficiency for, informed the priest that he didn't command the demons not to kill anyone, either…he simply ordered them to gather money, and they did so in the most expedient way they could. When he asked the priest where he believed they were acquiring the money from, the now teary-eyed man of the cloth simply responded, "I…I didn't know. I didn't want to know! I suspected they were taking it from bank vaults…wealthy businesses…!" [It would appear that lack of common sense runs rampant with the characters in this series].

When Cold angrily told the priest of everything the demons had done on his behalf to acquire his "filthy lucre" for him [didn't this priest read the newspapers? I guess he was too busy spending the day counting up all the stolen loot…], while the priest pleaded with him to understand that it was all for the kids, that both the church and the city government turned down his requests for more money to feed the children…and that even God had failed to answer his prayers on that matter [one could argue, of course, that God did answer his prayers, but set up a deadly temptation, or "test," for the priest…which the man failed miserably, proving a lesson that I will get into more in the Comments section below].

Wanting nothing more to do with either of the bracelets, and having a strong desire to remove himself from the company of the pathetic person in front of him, Jeremiah Cold removed his own wristband, and threw it at the priest's knees…telling him that if he wanted the armband so much, he may as well "have the matching set" [oh well, Cold didn't use his own wristband very much, anyway…not even in most cases when he greatly needed its power].

Leaving the guilt-shattered (and unnamed) priest on his knees amidst his pile of blood money and the two demon-summoning armbands, Jeremiah Cold strode out of the mission, telling the broken man he left behind, "You'd better ask for more than God's forgiveness, padre. Ask the souls of a dozen dead men to forgive you as well…

"…I've a feeling they'll be haunting you for the rest of your life!"

Comments: This final entry in the series had a good theme to it, but the story (and by proxy, the finale of the series) was executed with too much haste. This was evident in the rather shoddy, uninspired dialogue, a pacing of events that was so fast it was unwieldy, and a complete absence of the often profound third person narrative captions that form the forte' of some of Bill DuBay's best writing (note some quoted examples in my previous entries above). The story ended on a somber note with Jedediah Pan's sudden death occurring almost matter-of-factly in the middle of the story, as well as depriving this overall great series' potential by failing to provide more usage of Jeremiah Cold's amulet, or presenting the inevitable conflict between the two sets of demons, an "inevitable" confrontation that never came. The rather inexplicable actions of Pan and Cold that led to the formers' death could easily have been avoided with a bit of common sense and pre-planning. Nowhere in sight was the wry, witty Jedediah Pan we saw in DuBay's second entry in the series, when he encountered Frito and his gang of banditos; instead, we saw a solemn, almost broken man, who was choking on his own guilt despite his successful bonding with the son whom he had torn out of his life over 20 years previous, along with everything else he held dear.

Don't get me wrong; Pan deserved to feel guilty for what he did to the town of Crucifixion Hill in the first story, and his mission of penance was an important character development for him that slowly transformed the man from one type of character into another, and displaying how difficult and precarious such a climb out of the darkness can be, even though Pan more or less succeeded in the end (whereas Dracula-Mordante always failed in this difficult task). Nevertheless, it's regretful that Pan didn't maintain the ironic, witty "edge" that he displayed in the past during this journey. As a result, his death came off as little more than an afterthought, and DuBay seemed to have lost all interest in this series by the time he wrote the final story, as if he only composed it in the first place simply to get it completed and move on to other projects.

A strong indication that the tale was so hastily completed is the fact that it appeared in the very same issue as the fourth story in the series. Proof positive that this tale was actually slated for the following issue of EERIE (#78) was a footnote on page 3, panel 4 of this story which read: "*see last issue: "The King of Nob Hill", despite the fact that the latter story debuted in the same issue of EERIE that the former did, and in fact, the fifth and final story in the series immediately followed the fourth in the pages of EERIE #77. Bad way of doing things, folks.

In fact, part of the rush may have been to honor the promise to the readers that they would have a colorized story for this issue. Hence, when the original planned colorization missed the deadline or fell through for whatever reason, they likely pressured DuBay and Oritz to complete this final story, so that Peggy DuBay could quickly color it and include it in this issue, thereby giving the readers their color "fix" and finishing off the series an issue earlier than intended, thereby leaving them extra space in the following issue for something else.
The color job itself was something close to a botch, as it appears that Ms. DuBay colored the tale very quickly, without being given editorial guidelines while doing so (thus, the armbands colored incorrectly), and it also seems clear that Jose Oritz originally penciled this tale without intending for it to be in color…as a result, his artwork, not to mention the end of a great series, suffered in the final printed product, more's the pity.

The only good thing about this story, a tale which overall wrapped up the series rather dishonorably, was its thematic element, another testament to DuBay and other Warren writers' willingness to explore all facets of humanity by way of the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy mediums. This element dealt with how good intentions, or the willingness to do anything whatsoever to carry out a good deed, while deliberately blinding oneself to how much the means may not coincide with the noble ends, often cause great devastation to many in the process of "helping" some people. This, of course, includes the very soul and state of mind of the person who initiates the "good" deeds without first considering all the factors involved in a given situation.

This can easily provide an allegory for many measures taken by organized religious institutions in the past, or even of the government itself, for the alleged "good" of everyone, or for the "good" of a specific suffering minority group, only to realize in the end that the "by any means necessary" or "act now, worry about the likely consequences later" hurts far, far more people than they ever help. Such ill-considered (but good-intentioned) measures, often driven solely by emotion rather than rational thought, end up tainting the "good will" of the measure in question, leaving far more resentment than contentment in its wake.

The priest in this story (and in his brief appearance at the end of the fourth tale in this series) was never officially named, and the title of the last story simply referred to him as "Father Pain." If that happens to correlate with his real name, however, this author has no idea.

Jedediah Pan and Jeremiah Cold never made another original appearance in either a Warren or Harris title (at least, not to date in the latter case), save for a cameo made by Pan in the Vampi story published in VAMPIRELLA #92-93. The latter story arc featured the return of the six titular demons and the mystical armbands, though under a completely different creative team, and those two Vampi stories are thus indexed below.

Time Frame: This story was stated on the splash page, via a textual blurb, as occurring in the summer of 1914. Hence, it's my opinion that the fourth story in the series, featuring Pan and Cold's move to San Francisco, occurred in July of '14, while the fifth and final story occurred sometime late in August or September of 1914, more likely the former.


[The Demons' appearance in VAMPIRELLA #92-93]

VAMPIRELLA #92

"Bracelets, Demons and Death"

Story: Rich Margopoulos

Art: Rudy Nebres

One evening while Vampirella was relaxing in her luxurious Hollywood, California manse, she was in the midst of a phone conversation with a man called Rick, verifying that something which was spreading through the rumor mills was indeed true…she was now officially single (this story took place during Vampi's break-up with Adam Van Helsing, when he left her for Pantha, and during the period where she was working as an actress in film instead of being part of Pendragon's one-man stage show). Her call was interrupted by the arrival at her door of an old friend, a rather innocent and naïve young woman named Cryssie Collins, whom she and Adam Van Helsing had previously rescued from two instances of affliction by demonic possession [see the Vampi stories in VAMPIRELLA #72-73 for full details on those events], but which she was now allegedly completely cured of. Cryssie told Vampi that she moved from New York City to Hollywood since her modeling career in the Big Apple wasn't taking off there very well of late, and she was hoping to start anew here. Hoping that Vampi needed a new roommate now that her friendship with Pantha was estranged, Cryssie found herself in luck, and she immediately moved in. Though Vampi was initially taken off guard emotionally and saddened when Cryssie briefly mentioned Adam Van Helsing's name, the young blonde girl quickly changed the subject by asking her new roommate if she had any professional contacts for her in Hollywood, for which she could migrate her modeling career to the sunshine state as well as her physical person. Vampi told her that she would take her to the popular filmmaker Bill Bradshaw's gala party in Malibu that evening, and introduce her to him.

However, when the two ladies arrived at the gala a bit late, they discovered to their abject horror that every single guest at the huge party, including Mr. Bradshaw himself, were hideously murdered and mutilated, their limbs, heads, and internal organs literally torn from their bodies. When the shocked Cryssie became ill and retreated into a corner of the room to vomit, Vampi called the police.
Upon the cops' arrival, the officers and the men from the coroner's office removed the horribly torn bodies from the large mansion, and questioned both Vampi and Cryssie, particularly asking the she-vampire about her new film being produced and directed by Bradshaw, "Silver Bracelets of Death." One of the new police officers on the force, a rookie named Frank Johnson, told her that promotions were coming up next week, and he was hoping she could give him some info that would help him crack the case. Charmed by the handsome young officer, Vampi agreed, and handed him the full party list.

Later that evening at Vampi's Hollywood home, Cryssie showed her new roommate an article of jewelry which she had recently acquired, since she was reminded of it upon hearing the title of the she-vampire's newest film epic…an antique silver armband that had runic symbols in a strange language etched on it. The jewelry looked familiar to Vampi, and when she asked Cryssie where she got it from, the young woman told her that one of her photographers gave it to her as part of her payment for a photo shoot, claiming that he didn't want to hang on to it because it gave him a case of "the willies." Since Cryssie was "stuck" with the strange bracelet, she resolved to wear it as a good luck charm. Vampi thought to herself that Cryssie's naïve and innocent ways were so different from Pantha, and she felt that they would get along very well.

The following Sunday morning, when the news reports of the horrific murder at Bradshaw's manse hit the papers, people found themselves terrified to go outdoors, and the eeriness of the situation was exacerbated by a very violent thunderstorm that hit the Hollywood and Malibu areas that day in tandem with the highly unpleasant news reports. Reading the news in his own residence was the embittered, misanthropic special effects expert Harold Swillman, who was pleased that all of those "insufferable fools" had been killed. Swillman mused to himself that for over two decades he was hailed as one of the greatest make-up and effects artists in the business, and that he had worked with all of the film greats in his time, including Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Christopher Lee [of the WNU]. That changed, however, when he began working with the eccentric, hot-tempered auteur Bill Bradshaw on "Silver Bracelets of Death." When Bradshaw told Swillman to get him a convincing prop to depict the eponymous silver bracelet onscreen, the former literally hurled the antique wristband provided for him back at the corpulent sfx man, calling it a " tasteless relic." Swillman told Bradshaw that the bracelet was an authentic hellband [the bracelets of Jedediah Pan were finally given an official name] that was worn by the legendary Jedediah Pan himself [the latter's name was misspelled "Jebediah" here, but spelled correctly in the following story]. Bradshaw refused to believe the legend, and ordered Swillman to either come up with a more realistic looking prop or he would be fired. Since Bradshaw had his tantrum with Swillman in front of the rest of the cast, which included Vampirella, the paranoid, disturbed man assumed that they all must be laughing at him, and he began developing an extreme hatred for all of them.

Swillman was interrupted from his personal reminiscing by a knock at his door, which turned out to be Officer Johnson, who arrived there without the knowledge of the rest of the force, to look up a lead that he (correctly) believed could be found there, and the young officer managed to weasel his way in. Once he was bid entrance by the nervous Swillman, the officer told the deranged sfx man that he considered him the prime suspect in this case, since he was the only person on the guest list of Bradshaw's gala party who failed to show up there (at least in the capacity as a guest!). Becoming angry, Swillman didn't hesitate to admit that he was guilty as he expressed indignation with himself aloud over failing to notice Vampirella's lack of presence at the party, since so many people were running and screaming when the murderous chaos was ensuing. Officer Johnson reminded Swillman that if he was confessing he would have to read him his rights before arresting him, though the wicked effects man had no intention of being taken to jail. He quickly used the hellband to summon the three demons Belial, Balam, and Belphegor, and ordered the three impish demonic avatars to kill the policeman…and in short order, they ripped the policeman's arms and then his head from his torso. Swillman was annoyed at the mess his demonic servitors had made on his new white shag rug, and he wondered how to dispose of the gory evidence on his floor…and finally hit upon the solution when he ordered the three demons at his beck and call to eat the remains of Officer Johnson.
Swillman then sat down and began to plot the death of the one member of the cast other than himself who still survived…Vampirella.

Upon reading that Officer Johnson had vanished in the morning paper the next day, Vampirella quickly called Conrad Van Helsing and asked him if he had any idea what was amiss. The blind psychic monster-hunter told her that he could psychically sense the involvement of demons in this case…and that Cryssie would soon find herself equally involved in this horrid situation. Overhearing this phone conversation, Cryssie ran upstairs to her room in tears, since she now believed that she would never fully escape from being constantly besieged by demonic forces, telling herself, "I-it can't be a coincidence that I was possessed…then plagued by demons in the asylum…and now this!

"It's like I'm some satanic magnet that attracts evil wherever I go…!"

On the night that Swillman planned to strike at Vampirella's home, he used a telescope to keep her manse under surveillance…and upon seeing Cryssie Collins, he noticed that she was wearing the other of Pan's hellbands. With that second hellband in his possession, he would have control over three more mighty demonic avatars, and his current level of power would thus be doubled. He resolved to take the second hellband in the same attack in which he killed Vampi.
On Monday morning at precisely midnight, Vampi was chagrined that the continuing violent thunderstorms had delayed Conrad Van Helsing's flight to Hollywood, and she had a premonition that something "terrible" was about to occur. Sure enough, minutes later, Swillman was outside her home with his three demonic servants at his side, and the corpulent murderer ordered Belphegor to climb up to Cryssie's apartment and seize the hellband from her. The demon did so with his usual lack of finesse, and Cryssie's screams alerted Vampi, who rushed upstairs and burst in her room just as the demon was in the process of strangling her roommate. Belphegor attacked his newest opponent, only to find her at least as strong as he was, and capable of knocking him around the room. The smallish demon quickly vacated the area and rejoined his master and comrades, for which Swillman kicked and berated the imp for making "enough ruckus to wake the dead!" The demon did succeed in taking the second hellband, however.

Seeing the activity outside of her house, Vampirella rushed downstairs to confront her enemies…with the still startled and nearly choked Cryssie following close behind. Upon the commencement of the confrontation, Vampi realized that Swillman was the one behind all the killings, including the attempt on her and Cryssie's life just moments ago, and it all made sense to her when she recalled the sfx man's peculiar behavior on the set. Vowing vengeance, Swillman resolved to improve his odds of killing Vampi threefold by summoning three more demons. Using the second hellband on his other wrist, Swellman materialized the avatars of Asmodeus, Ahriman, and…
…when he spoke the name of the third demon, Astaroth, he discovered that instead of the final demon being materialized into tangible form on the Earth plane, he instead inadvertently induced a hideous metamorphosis in Cryssie Collins…before the astounded eyes of both Vampi and Swillman, the blonde girl transformed into a hybrid human/demon, with her voice deepening and her persona, like her physical appearance, seeming to be a combination of Cryssie and Astaroth [in her 'were-demon' form, Cryssie Collins somewhat resembled a harpy, retaining all of her feminine human features with the additions of reptilian skin, large functional bat-like wings on her back, pupil-less glowing eyes, long black talons instead of fingernails and toenails, and pronounced, razor-sharp fangs protruding from her mouth]. The enraged she-demon, her persona maintaining the memories and most of the volition of Cryssie Collins but with a much nastier and vicious edge, attacked Swillman for inducing such a horrifying transformation in her. Swillman commanded his five demonic servants to attack and kill both the she-vampire and the she-demon, but Collins swept her impish opponents aside with her new incredible degree of supernatural strength, and unlike Astaroth in his "pure" form, she could actually use those wings for short bursts of flight [Astaroth in "pure" form, however, seemed unable to do anything more with those wings than to simply help him leap a bit higher and further, and they were much smaller in proportion to his size than they were on Cryssie Collins in her 'were-demon' form]. The demonic Cryssie then slapped Swillman over thirty feet through the air with a single blow from one of her hands.
In the meantime, Vampirella was engaged in battle with the each of the five demons, and her speed proved superior to theirs, while her fighting skills combined with this and her superhuman strength to eventually make short work of her monstrous opponents. Belial, Balam, and Belphegor returned to their dispersed etheric forms upon their defeat, as was always the case.

As the demonically transformed Cryssie Collins again attacked Swillman, he ordered Asmodeus and Ahiriman to defend him, but the demonically transformed Collins proved stronger than the "pure" demonic beings, easily breaking Asmodeus's spine and shattering Ahiriman's skull like a piece of fruit, reducing both of them to their dispersed etheric forms in the process. Filled with an animal-like rage, Collins was still determined to make Swillman pay for somehow inadvertently causing the demon Astaroth to possess her body, and she lifted the rotund man like a rag doll with one arm and hurled him clear through Vampi's glass doors and into the large pool in her backyard.

When she attacked the sfx man yet again as he extricated himself from the pool, he tried to assuage the she-demon by returning her hellband to her. Vampi then intervened and tried to prevent the now bestial Collins from murdering the man. As she did so, the ever-treacherous Swillman turned on them again and once more attempted to summon the first three demons from the hellband that he retained. But just as he called all of their names, a bolt of lightening from the raging overhead thunderstorm was somehow attracted to a combination of the metal and the energies welling up within the hellband, and the powerful beam of electricity struck the wristband, suffused Swillman's body, and burned him to death [a convenient way to prevent Collins from killing him, of course].

With the man's death, the transformed Cryssie Collins suddenly became melancholic and regained more of her human persona, and she quietly picked up her hellband and replaced it on her wrist. When the teary-eyed creature remarked to herself that she wanted to be human again and mentioned her human name, the dense etheric shell surrounding her, and which had transformed her into a demonic being, dispersed into mist-like form…and she was human once more [it was also unintentionally humorous how Warren, outside of its outright gaudy sci-fi title 1994, sometimes tried to "lessen" the lasciviousness of its female upper-body nudity by having the artist avoid drawing nipples on the breasts of some of the topless women who appeared within its pages, as artist Nebres did with Cryssie Collins here].

Standing in the pouring rain and crying over the strange feeling she had upon reverting back to human, and the realization that she was now prone to demonic transformations into a demon-like being, Cryssie was consoled by Vampirella, who assured her that once Conrad arrived, he would find the solution to her problem (or, at least she hoped).
As Vampi led her stunned young friend back into the house, she mused to herself, "If Cryssie's still possessed, she might turn on me! Not only do I have to worry about my own insatiable bloodlust…
"…but now I've got to contend with a roommate who's an uncontrollable demoness!"

Comments: This story, produced by a different creative team than those who brought us the original Jedediah Pan tales a few years earlier in EERIE, was well-drawn and mostly well-written, with the full gory glory of the titular demons' limb-tearing rampages being depicted as explicitly as ever. As this story (and its follow-up in the next Vampi tale, indexed below) were published during Warren's last two years in operation, the work was noticeably less professional than that which we often saw in previous years, reading much like some of Marvel's anti-hero horror mags from the early to mid-'70s (some of which was of excellent quality, some of poor quality, and some of mediocre quality). Nevertheless, the attempt by Warren writers to less-than-successfully duplicate Marvel's house style in the years when horror mags were on the wane rather than trying to rely upon their own unique style that did so well for them for so many years was a bit evident in this tale. Warren seemed to become increasingly aware that at this time, the public wanted super-heroes to the near-exclusion of monsters, even if the heroes were of a "monstrous" nature.

With this tale, the titular Demons of this index began to move from external entities summoned by a human to a human possessed by demonic forces and able to physically transform him/herself into a simulacra of the demon, and to thereby fight on the side of the angels, with Cryssie Collins becoming possessed by the demon Astaroth and able to morph herself into a supernaturally powerful she-demon creature. This made her thematically similar to Marvel's Ghost Rider and DC's Etrigan the Demon, both being humans possessed by demons who could morph into the physical form of the demon and use this form, mostly (but not perfectly) controlled by their own will, so as to create a demonic anti-hero. In addition, Collins was now able to summon the other two demons who had their essence trapped in the mystic silver hellband and command them to obey her, this being similar to Marvel's Satanna character, who could summon a demon merged to her life force known as the Basilisk into quasi-material form, and command the creature to do her bidding, but always at the risk of losing control over the entity (which finally happened).
Hence, Cryssie Collins could be considered a hybrid of two demonic character categories prominent in the comics of the era.

As noted above in the synopsis, with this story, Jedediah Pan's silver wristbands were finally assigned a unique name, the hellbands.
It's not surprising that this story was written by Rick Margopoulos, who was quite fond of crossovers and did much to establish the Warrenverse as a shared universe between several of the series characters that Warren published.

This story was continued in the next Vampi solo story, published in VAMPIRELLA #93, and this tale is indexed below.

WNU Connections: Due to the mention of Jedediah Pan, and the appearance of his hellbands and six titular demons in this story (as well as a cameo of Pan and flashback cameos of Jeremiah Cold, the "King of Nob Hill," and "Father Pain" in the next Vampi story), this tale officially brings the titular demons and all protagonists of the series that ran a few years earlier in EERIE into the "consensus" WNU.

Time Frame: This story most likely occurred sometime either in 1979 or early in 1980.

VAMPIRELLA #93

"Apocalypse Inc."

Story: Rich Margopoulos

Art: Rudy Nebres

This story begins with Conrad Van Helsing relating the history of Jedediah Pan and his two hellbands to his hosts Vampirella and Cryssie Collins at their Hollywood home. His story closely correlates with those presented in "The Demons" series in EERIE (all of which are indexed above), though he seems to mention, in the beginning, a brief but violent untold incident when Pan encounters four people on horseback (their appearance and idiosyncratic dialogue suggest that they are Mexican, which may be an incorrect visual representation by Van Helsing) who claim to be from Crucifixion Hill and seeking vengeance on Pan for ripping through the town [see Comments and Time Frame below]. Pan, of course, easily counters this threat by summoning forth the three demons from his hellband (the artwork by Nebres depicts Pan summoning forth all six demons, but this is almost certainly incorrect if this was indeed a heretofore unknown incident, since following his assault on Crucifixion Hill, New Mexico, Pan gave the hellband controlling the "A" demons to his son, and only retained the band containing the essence of the "B" demons).

As Van Helsing reached the conclusion of the tale, he noted that "most authorities" agree that following Pan's death, both of the hellbands ended up in the possession of a "rogue priest" (a.k.a., "Father Pain"), and following that, "Pan's mysterious wristbands seem to have vanished from mortal sight!" Van Helsing then noted, "When the priest died, his few possessions were sold. The bracelet[s] among them. But their true qualities remained unknown to each new owner down through the years!" [In order to make Cryssie's inherent "innocence" quite clear to the readers, scripter Margopoulos has her use "Golly!" and "Gee!" (never together) as her pet declarative statements {groan} And here I thought my friend Brian Rebman's pet declarations of "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" and "Judas Priest!" were bad!].

Upon the completion of Van Helsing's recap of Jedediah Pan's history, and that of the hellbands, Pendragon returns to Vampi's pad after a weekend at a magicians' convention at Perth Amboy, and he inquires as to why there are so many police officers surrounding the house [I guess he didn't notice all of the damage that occurred to the manse after the battle with Swillman and the demons early that morning]. The aged presdigitator is then re-introduced to Cryssie Collins, and he recalls how he and Vampi helped rescue her from the clutches of the evil Council of Wizards [see the Vampi story in VAMPIRELLA #73 for full details]. She and Vampi brought Pendragon up to speed on her current demonic situation, and Cryssie mentioned that she hoped Dr. Van Helsing could give her some answers.

Van Helsing complied, providing the following theory.
The professor-cum-monster-hunter described how, many ages ago, a great Mother Goddess was worshipped by much of humanity, and "she was the goddess of fertility…of the springtime planting…of hope and renewal…of birth and rebirth" [he described the Wiccan Mother Goddess revered by modern Wiccans, including this author, perfectly; see Comments below]. Van Helsing then noted how the Mother Goddess was referred to as Ishtar in ancient Mesopotamia, Ashtart and Asherah by the Phonicians and the Canaanites respectively, as an example of the many different goddess-forms that "split off" from the main Mother Goddess aspect via the many polytheistic civilizations that emerged from the early tribal societies. He noted that even as her name and specific aspect changed in many different civilizations, in time her nature and image became a symbol of fear, evil, and demanding of human sacrifice [this occurred when the Mother Goddess was besmirched by the post-Roman Empire Christian societies, which likely either created an "evil" sentient avatar image of the benign Mother Goddess of fertility and rebirth from the psyche-responsive astral and etheric realms, or caused various demonic entities to take her form so as to be more capable of gaining human worshippers/adherents…possibly both; see Comments below].

Continuing Van Helsing's narration, he described how the prophets of the Old Testament [sic] denounced her image and "cursed" her under the name of Asteroth, an obvious bastardization of some of her previous names under the pre-Christian polytheistic societies. As Van Helsing laments, "The prophets of the Old Testament [sic] denounced her worship and cursed her under the name of Asteroth! The once benevolent Goddess had willfully degenerated into a demoness in league with the darkest powers of Hell!" ['Willfully'? Not very likely, considering evidence seen in both RU texts and inconsistencies in Van Helsing's statements; again, see Comments section below].

According to Van Helsing's theory, the original demon who possessed Cryssie was Astaroth herself (leading further credence to my own theories that the demons entrapped in the hellbands are but avatars of the actual Astaroth and other demons carrying those names, connected to the 'parent' demon's essence but able to act quasi-independently, otherwise the real Astaroth wouldn't have been 'free' to be summoned to possess Collins if the demoness was actually 'trapped' in one of the hellbands; the 'trapped' Astaroth was a 'seedling' or avatar of the actual Astaroth…read this parenthetical description over a few times if it was hard to follow the first time, dammit!).

Continuing, Van Helsing noted that since Collins was possessed by Astaroth herself (or perhaps another avatar thereof; it's possible that many seedlings can be 'cast off' from Astaroth-prime), a "hell-cursed rapport" had already been created in Cryssie's life force when she was a captive of the Council of Wizards, and etheric "pieces" of the demon's essence may have remained in her own etheric body afterwards (which is why she kept acting as a "magnet" for demonic forces, since she was never properly exorcised).

When Swillman used the "A" hellband to attempt to summon the Astaroth avatar to tangible existence on the physical plane, he "inexorably" drew the essence of that entity into Cryssie's body instead, merging the two of them in a material sense, with their mental essence merging imperfectly, i.e., Cryssie's persona dominant over that of the demon, but with the latter able to influence her behavior in sometimes dramatic fashion (the exact same situation existed when motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze merged his essence with the demon Zarathos and mystic Jason Blood merged his essence with the demon Etrigan, both of whom, in their human/demon hybrid form, seemed to be more powerful than Cryssie's were-demon form, thus suggesting, once again, that she merged with an avatar of Astaroth rather than the actual, much more powerful she-demon).
As Cryssie herself mused upon hearing Van Helsing's above explanation: "Then, that explains why I seemed to be in control of things when I fought with Swillman! Even though I felt so horribly evil!"

Van Helsing then opined that the "A" hellband somehow acts as a "regulator" to control the merging of the demon Astaroth with her own. Then Van Helsing tells her that she probably needs to wear the "A" hellband to prevent herself from being completely possessed by Astaroth again. Needless to say, Cryssie isn't too thrilled by this situation, but Van Helsing resolves to do whatever he can to extricate her from it, while reminding her that, "…until then, I fear you must accept this unearthly burden!"

With the "A" hellband in the necessary possession of Cryssie Collins, Vampirella decides to keep the "B" hellband out of the hands of the unwary by locking it in her personal safe [something old Jedediah should have done when he decided he didn't want it anymore instead of just leaving it laying in the street]. When she opened the heavily fortified safe to place the wristband within for safekeeping, however, she realized to her extreme horror and consternation that her precious blood serum substitute was missing…thus leaving her (and all people around her) vulnerable to her vampiric bloodlust when next she needed to feed.
It's then that Pendragon suggests that they tell Cryssie the truth about her new roommate (which she accepts with a fair degree of stoicism and without panic, considering her own situation). To cater a bit to the silly belief during this era that Drakulon was another planet and that Vampi was an extraterrestrial, Van Helsing says, "The DNA in Vampirella's alien genes has specifically evolved to survive on hemoglobin[,] which was as common on Drakulon as water is on Earth!" [The original conception of Drakulon, before Harris Comics thought better of it, is always worthy of mentioning if you need a good laugh].

Turning to the very important task of locating Vampi's missing blood substitute serum, Conrad Van Helsing focused his formidable psychic "sixth sense" to that task…and perceived the image of a business logo reading "Apocalypse, Inc.," encapsulated over the recently constructed Amazon Towers. Now knowing the location of her blood serum, Van Helsing suggested that Vampi be temporarily locked away until he and Pendragon could retrieve the serum, but the enraged and desperate she-vampire adamantly refused, and as she began to mentally shift into huntress mode now that her hunger was emerging out of control, she morphed into bat-form and flew towards the Amazon Towers. Her three friends and allies quickly followed, determined to prevent her from taking too many lives in retribution.

Meanwhile, in the penthouse suite of the Amazon Towers, the secretive Apocalypse, Inc. has its world headquarters, and is revealed to be "an international league of assassins, smugglers, and thieves…"
There, the head of the business, a man dressed in a nondescript military uniform who is referred to as Major Armajo, is conferring with a new client, a mysterious incognito woman who hired the major's forces to deftly steal Vampirella's blood serum substitute. The woman obviously has a major mad-on for Vampi, and wants to see her die slowly, with as much agony as possible.
In the meantime, Vampi, in bat-form, descended upon an upper story window of the Amazon Towers, and reverted to human form on one of the ledges. As she attempted to tear one of the fortified windows from its hinges, however, she is shocked into unconsciousness by a powerful electrical apparatus set to foil any such intruder. She was retrieved by a mysterious thief/mercenary called the Cat Burglar [very original, guys!], who is in the employ of Apocalypse, Inc., where she is brought to the "experimental medical section" of the facility under Major Armajo's orders. As the Cat Burglar and another assassin employed by the organization, the Ninja [his equally original name says it all] admire the beauty of Vampi's fallen form, the she-vampire suddenly throws off the effects of the electrical shock to her system. She quickly defeats the Ninja when she sinks her fangs into his jugular and empties his blood supply. Then, she battles the Cat Burglar and dispatches him in the same fashion.
When her bloodlust was temporarily sated due to the feast she just had in the medical section of the facility, the she-vamp smashed through a locked, sound-proofed door leading out of the facility…only to find herself face-to-face with numerous hired assassins "recruited from every race, nation, caste and class the world over" [see Classic Dialogue section below].

Meanwhile, Conrad Van Helsing, Pendragon, and Cryssie Collins [somehow manage] to enter the lobby of Apocalypse, Inc., which Van Helsing's psychic sensitivity is able to confirm as the correct location. However, the intrepid trio were promptly discovered by the agency's sophisticated surveillance technology. Major Armajo sent one of his org's most dangerous assassins then present at the facility, an Irish homicidal demolitions expert called Lt. Kevin O'Shane, a.k.a., the "Mad Bomber of Belfast," to kill the trio. When the three enter the (vacated) reception area of the agency, they are trapped within when a heavy iron door slides down over the entrance, and then confronted by O'Shane, who proceeds to pull the pin from a grenade with the obvious intention of hurling it at the three unwelcome intruders. Acting with a combination of panic and a natural self-defense response, Cryssie quickly uses her hellband to summon forth Ahiriman, and ordered the demonic imp to "stop" the "Mad Bomber." Without more specific instructions, the demonic creature acted upon his naturally base instincts and leapt upon the assassin, catches the grenade as he hurls it, and stuffed the explosive device in the man's mouth, causing him to literally lose his head when it detonated. Cryssie was horrified, since she didn't intend for the demon to kill the man, merely to subdue him, and she found herself wondering if perhaps even in her fully human form, Astaroth's influence was much more formidable than she first imagined.

As for Vampirella's confrontation with a room full of deadly assassins, she allowed her huntress mode to fully take over once again, and the vampiric she-warrior engages in a savage battle with all the disparate assassins assembled before her. Several minutes later, it's over: "Vampirella, bruised and battered, but victorious never-the-less, stands amid the dead and dying bodies of a dozen vanquished assassins!"
As Vampi's trio of allies make their way into Major Armajo's command center [I guess all of his security forces were occupied with Vampi], Pendragon and the major's young female client reacted in startled apprehension as they instantly recognized each other. Seconds later, Vampi "explod[ed]" into the room in a state of renewed rage and bloodlust, demanding to know where her blood serum substitute was. Realizing that retreat was the better part of valor, Armajo hit a button on the control panel of one of his chair's armrests, and escaped through an elevator portal located directly below the chair [an old plot device of convenience that never seems to go out of style…unfortunately for the readers of genre fiction]. Before departing, of course, Major Armajo swears vengeance upon the she-vampire ("…the next time we meet, your life won't be worth a plugged nickel!").

Realizing that the incognito young woman remaining behind was the client who hired Armajo's goon squad to kill her, the still frenzied Vampirella attacked the woman…despite the fact that Pendragon pleaded with her not to do so. Finally, Vampi took her full measure of revenge by sinking her fangs into the young woman's neck and fatally injured her by draining the lion's share of her blood. It's only after her bloodlust is totally sated that she heard the entirety of her beloved friend and mentor Pendragon's impassioned words: "Dear Heaven, Vampi! Don't! You're killing my daughter[,] Sara Granville!"
Recoiling in horror at the realization of what she had just indiscriminately done while under the throes of her bloodlust, the rapidly fading Sara told her father, with her last words, that she had to kill Vampirella for murdering her husband and son [see the Vampi story in VAMPIRELLA #25 for full details]. Her final words to her father: "I had to make her pay but why [do] you love and protect her…when she causes so much pain?" Then the resentful young woman was gone.

Now horrified at what she had just done, Vampi sought to apologize to her close friend, only to have the grieving but ever-understanding Pendragon tell her, "There's no need to say anything! She was too embittered to forgive! In the end it was her blind hatred that destroyed her!"

Despite Pendragon's kind words, Vampirella hardly forgave herself. As Conrad Van Helsing and Cryssie Collins stood at their friend's side, the final caption of text lamented: "Tears fill Vampirella's eyes because she knows that Sara Granville's dying words will haunt her for the rest of her guilt ridden life!"

Comments: As noted in the above synopsis, this story featured a brief, greatly abridged recap of Jedediah Pan's history, along with the heretofore printed history of his two hellbands, and revealed in general detail what happened to them after they ended up in the possession of "Father Pain" roughly 65 years prior to the events of this story. It also may have (albeit imperfectly) depicted a brief but dramatic untold encounter between Pan and four angered residents of Crucifixion Hill.

The origin account of the female demon Astaroth by Conrad Van Helsing was interesting on many levels. At the time this story was published (the opening months of 1981) the upsurge of interest in the many Wiccan traditions wrought from the legacy of Gerald Gardner and his seminal 1954 book WITHCRAFT TODAY was just beginning to blossom forth, with popular publications like DRAWING DOWN THE MOON. For the most part, Van Helsing's description of the ancient, primordial Mother Goddess as envisioned by most adherents to the various duotheistic Wiccan traditions was quite correct, if a bit bogged down by conservative Christian orthodoxy. Nevertheless, much of what he said, if deconstructed and tweaked a bit, can bridge the gap between Pagan and Christian understandings of the Mother Goddess conception.

In the opinion of this author (who is a practicing Wiccan), I doubt Van Helsing's implications, even in the context of the WNU, that the Mother Goddess "willfully" degenerated into a demonic shadow of her 'former' benign conception, nor did it happen for no apparent reason at all during the passing of time, as Van Helsing's narrative would also suggest. When he picks up the narrative after mentioning the last point, however, one can readily discern why she appeared to so degenerate in character and image, in a way that correlates to what occurred in the RU history of theology. With the coming of the New Testament (something that Van Helsing did mention in his narrative exegesis, though he mistakenly referred to the Old Testament instead; the Devil and most Christianized demon imagery didn't come along until the New Testament), after the death of Jesus Christ and the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church emerged as a major political force as the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages dawned on humankind. In order to more easily convert the remaining Pagans to the "new" religion, and to justify their persecution when necessary, the church demonized many of the important Pagan images, including bastardizing the Mother Goddess's image, as well as that of all female iconic beings of worship, particularly attacking their sexual (i.e., fertility and revelatory) aspects. As such, the goddess-form Ishtar, the Mesopotamian aspect of the primal Mother Goddess for their polytheistic system of worship, along with her similarly named counterparts in other polytheistic cultures, was 'demonized' and re-conceptualized by the church as the notorious female demonic being Astaroth.

Though Van Helsing mentions this nowhere in his narrative, the same thing happened to the Mother Goddess's primal opposite gendered consort, the Horned God of the Hunt, the horns being a symbol of nature, and because so many of the herbivorous animals (e.g., bison, buffalo, antelopes) that the early hunter-gatherer societies acquired for food possessed horns and hooves, a task usually relegated to the expendable males in those early primitive gentile societies. That explains why so many of the disparate Pagan religions granted horns, hooves, and other goat-like or deer-like anatomical attributes to their male nature deities, both major and minor (which included Pan, satyrs and fauns, Cernunnos, etc.).
The Horned God of the Hunt, particularly the Pan phenotype, was likewise demonized and bastardized into the New Testament conception of the Devil, which is why, except for the serpentine appearance the Devil had in the Book of Genesis, the Judeo-Christian personification of absolute evil was so often conceptualized as having the features of a goat, despite the fact that horned and hooved animals were largely innocuous to humans compared to the many dangerous carnivorous animals extant in nature, as well as the surfeit of availabe pre- and post-Christian serpent imagery used by the various world cultures to personify evil (though, as many have pointed out to me, serpent imagery wasn't always used to symbolize evil; the Greek god Hermes's healing Caduceus Wand, which is enveloped by two coiling serpents, is the modern symbol for the medical industry, for instance, and serpent imagery often appears in art to symbolize strength and courage).

Thus, it's the opinion of this author that in the WNU, a similar thing happened, only here, the mental, astral, and etheric levels of existence, always responsive to the human psyche and imagination, caused such evil god-forms to materialize there (note how the Knights Templar had a demonic deity called Baphomet, who possessed hybrid human/goat characteristics, as their figure of worship). In addition, the demonic legions of the nether-realms, known to be extremely mercurial in shape and adaptable to changing human conceptions of the world, cultural mores, etc., readily adapted to these new conceptualized demonic phenotypes popular in the imaginations of several prominent human cultures, which is why the demonic imp avatars trapped and summoned by the metal of Jedediah Pan's hellbands took on goat-like characteristics in addition to certain incongruous mammalian attributes, including bat-like wings, as bats have also held a place in the human psyche to symbolize evil, and such leathern wings are also prominent in many depictions of dragons through the ages, who were also often used as symbols of evil or destruction in the Western cultures. Further, this likely explains how a powerful demonic entity in one of the many hellish nether-realms took on the image that later became known as Astaroth, and interacted with various humans through the ages in that etherically sturdy, psychically resonant form.

It's also my opinion that because Astaroth (like the other five demons summoned between the two hellbands) is such a powerful demon within the demonic otherdimensional hierarchy (according to Jewish and Christian demonological texts), it could not have been the actual Astaroth who was trapped and manifested by the bands, because those creatures, despite their level of physical might, weren't nearly powerful or intelligent enough to have been the real Astaroth (or the real Belial, Balam, etc.). The fact that Cryssie Collins was less powerful than both the Ghost Rider and Etrigan the Demon in her 'were-demon' form makes it likewise clear that she wasn't possessed by the real Astaroth, but rather one of her many demonic progeny or 'seedlings', who are likely spawned in the same manner as the seedlings of the Cthulhu Mythos entities, such as Nyralothotep and Cthulhu himself.
Of course, I may be wrong here, because there is some evidence that when greatly powerful demons engage in full demonic possession of a human being, they cannot use their full power through that human host on the Earth plane (as was the case when Chthon possessed Wanda Maximoff and when Pazuzu possessed Regan McNeill).

Nevertheless, the real Astaroth likely has to be directly invoked in order for her to manifest, or 'spawn', a seedling to serve the interests of an evil conjurer, despite the seedlings' inferior level of power and their only partially developed intellect. It probably increases Astaroth's overall power and influence whenever a worshipper or conjurer summons forth such a seedling, i.e., causes her to choose to create one for that purpose. It's my guess that only the most powerful conjurers in existence, or several powerful conjurers working together, can forcibly summon the real Astaroth (and other exceptionally powerful demons) into tangible or semi-tangible form on the Earth plane, unless she chooses to manifest herself, in her 'actual' aspect, for whatever reason. This was the case when Johnny Blaze summoned forth Mephisto, who chose to manifest personally, and bonded a powerful but lesser demon Zarathos to Blaze's life essence. Astaroth probably did a similar thing to Cryssie Collins, except she spawned and bonded a seedling demon from her own dark essence to Collins's soul, rather than grafting on a lesser demon under her personal dominion (as Mephisto did with Blaze).

This story was a mixed bag in terms of redeeming value, as it was published during the industry-wide comic book quality and production slump of the late '70s, which didn't pick up until 1982 (but by then, Warren Comics was on its last legs, unable to copy the more super-hero-centric formula of Marvel and DC, and even DC faltered in regards to both creatively and sales until they published the ground-breaking CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS in 1985-86; by then, Warren had faded into the mists of time). Author Rich Margopoulos treated us to a good degree of hokey dialogue that was all-too common in all comics publishers during this era (luckily, he didn't give us a "blue blazes" declaration so popular in '70s comic book dialogue and absolutely nowhere else), though some of the script was well-done, particularly Van Helsing's above-quoted narrative. The general characterization for the cast and their interactions was well-done, and though Rudy Nebres wasn't one of Warren's best artists (most of the great Brazilian artists of its '70s heyday had left the American comics scene by now), he was certainly competent.

As for the introduction of Apocalypse, Inc. and its leader, Major Armajo, to the Vampirella mythos with this story…the less said about that, the better.

As a reading of the synopsis will make clear, this story didn't focus directly upon Cryssie Collins and the hellbands of Jedediah Pan. I indexed it here solely because it featured an abridged but fairly comprehensive flashback sequence of Pan's history, as well as the history of the hellbands, and quite possibly showed us an imperfectly described original encounter that Pan had with some revenge-seeking citizens of the decimated Crucifixion Hill. After this story, Cryssie Collins continued to appear as a supporting character in the Vampi strip, ostensibly brought in, and given her she-demon powers and "dark secret," when the Drakulonne gladiatrix was bereft of the female were-cat Pantha as a supporting character, and thus a shape-shifting, supernaturally powerful sidekick. However, since none of the succeeding stories really focus upon the main feature of this Index, I will not index the rest of the Vampi stories guest-starring Collins here, and at this writing, I have yet to read the rest of them. She quickly made way for the return of Pantha after this story, as the she-cat renewed her supporting character status in the Vampi strip with the conclusion her second solo series in VAMPIRELLA. Further, the mag (and Warren Comics itself), would only be published for about one more year after this story appeared, so not much more could have been done with Cryssie Collins's character development at any rate.
However, in the future, it's quite possible that I will upgrade this Index to include a brief summary of what happened to Cryssie Collins and the hellbands of Jedediah Pan following this story.

WNU Connections: Note my detailed assertions in the Comments section above regarding what is, in the opinion of this author, the WNU history of the Wiccan Mother Goddess in the "consensus" WNU, based upon the evidence in this story coupled with RU history and texts. Of course, the 20th century religious tradition(s) of Wicca wasn't mentioned, and wasn't commonly known outside of New Age circles at the time the story was published (Conrad Van Helsing was likely aware of it, but he had no real reason to mention it in the narrative).

Classic Dialogue: When Vampi first confronted the international crew of assassins in the Apocalypse, Inc. headquarters, scripter Margopoulos took hilarious measures with the motley crew's declarative dialogue to make their disparate ethnic and national character pain-stakingly obvious to the reader. Enjoy all of these examples:

"Mein Gott!" [We get it…this guy was born and raised in Germany! Right?]

"Thet filly tain't one 'a us!" [Um…did this guy time travel forward from the Old West?]

"Ah so, honorable associate! You are correct!" [Oh, I know! I know! He's Japanese!]

"In Allah's sacred name…attack!" [Do I detect a Muslim upbringing here? Well, let's just say that if his oath wasn't a give-away, the turban atop his head was.]

You gotta love unintentional ethnic humor!

Time Frame: The main body of the story took place several hours after the Vampi story in VAMPIRELLA #92, which, again, places it in 1979 or early 1980. The (possibly) original flashback sequence featuring Jedediah Pan's encounter with the irate group of seeming banditos from Crucifixion Hill must have taken place anywhere between one week to three months after the story "Daddy Was A Demon Man" from EERIE #72, thereby placing the incident sometime in the year 1912.

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