DC Histories: Blue Devil

Here at DC Histories, we try to make sense of the continuity that perplexes, befuddles, and intimidates. We discuss what worked and what didn’t. This week, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite demon, Blue Devil.

Blue Devil In-House Ad (1984)

Dan Cassidy became his comic book career as a fairly average stuntman and special effects guru in 1980s Los Angeles. He did his job, had a collection of friends, and generally went about his life. That all changed when he was cast as the villain in a movie called Blue Devil. Dan designed the suit for the titular monster and wore it during filming. He even designed a trick trident that the Blue Devil carried around with him. Having stocked the suit full of practical gadgets for the special effects, Dan was barely able to drive away the Trickster when the rogue came to the set during a heist.

From The Fury of Firestorm #24 (1984)

In this pre-CGI world, Dan felt it was most prudent to put everything into his suit that needed to be done in the film. Towards that end, Dan’s trident was rocket-powered, which allowed him to fly. His suit also enhanced his strength and contained a host of other neat goodies that everyone hoped would pay off in the inevitable film sequels.

Everything changed when Nebiros, a demon, was unleashed. While Dan, still wearing the Blue Devil outfit for a scene, was fighting Nebiros off in an attempt to protect the people around him, a blast of energy struck him.

From Blue Devil #1 (1984)

This blast seared the Blue Devil suit onto Dan. It become his new skin. His nervous system was fused to the suit, allowing him to now feel the world around him through the former faux-flesh. Now that the suit was actual skin, it began to behave like it. When wounded, Dan found that he would heal at an accelerated rate. This was all deeply disorienting, but Dan kept his wits about him enough to drive Nebiros away. Even with Nebiros’ defeat, the suit remained firmly in place.

Dan tried to make the most of his new predicament. The Blue Devil film was eventually released and it became a box office smash. The public knew Dan’s story and they were mostly sympathetic to his problem. All this publicity didn’t deter him from keeping up his social life. Dan continued to spend time with Marla Bloom, his producer and best friend, along with keeping up his dating life.

From Blue Devil #7 (1984)

As Dan’s adventures continued in the pages of his solo book, his life became weirder and weirder. As usually happens when someone gains superpowers, the villains started crawling out of the woodwork and Dan was kept busy wrangling them up. There was also the occasional wacky space alien, which came along more often than you’d think. It became a lot for Dan to handle.

Eventually, after one adventure too many, Dan’s friends claimed that he was a ‘weirdness magnet.’ It was thought that Dan’s very existence was causing the problems around him. This culminated with Dan entering another dimension, running across the Biblical brothers Cain and Abel, and learning that Cain was currently the proprietor of something called the House of Weirdness. The House of Weirdness, a reference to the DC anthology horror titles House of Mystery and House of Secrets, which were hosted by these versions of Cain and Abel, could be accessed from the mortal world in certain spots. So, Dan bought a place in Metropolis that connected to the House and a hideaway in Malibu that did the same. Now, he could teleport across the country by simply walking through a single building.

From Blue Devil #29 (1986)

Blue Devil‘s obsession with the wacky and weird slowly made it lose fans. Changes were made to the series’ tone so that it had a more standard superhero vibe, but it was too late. Just as the title began to shift gears and become more serious, it was cancelled.

Still, Blue Devil had supporters. A few years later, Dan reappeared in a revival of Showcase, which focused on characters deemed too niche to earn a full series. His six issue stint as a backup for Catwoman and Robin featured Dan interacting for the first time with the Justice League and presented another fight with Nebiros.

From Showcase '93 #6 (1993)

This lead to what could be the Blue Devil’s highest profile role: He joined the Justice League. Unfortunately, it was the utterly forgettable Justice League that existed just before Grant Morrison reinvigorated the team. This was in the JL era where Power Girl had a baby thanks to an unwanted pregnancy caused by her grandfather, but that’s a tale for another time. It wasn’t the team’s finest hour. Still, Blue Devil bounded onto the scene, convinced that the League needed him to survive.

From Justice League America #98 (1995)

His brazen arrogance hid a soft underbelly. Blue Devil hadn’t been in a movie in years. His look made audiences unable to separate the person they saw on the screen with the role he was trying to portray. Also, he looked like a blue devil. There simply weren’t a lot of roles requiring such a facade. When Neron, a high level demon in Hell, asked the various members of the DCU if they’d trade their souls for their deepest wish, Dan reluctantly agreed. Neron swore that Dan would once again field movie offers. All that Neron asked in return was Dan’s soul and for Dan to destroy a tiny, unmanned electric substation in the middle of no where.

From Justice League America #105 (1995)

Stupidly, Dan agreed. After easily destroying the substation and seeing that no one was injured, Dan returned home. That evening, Marla Bloom was doing some location scouting by way of helicopter. With the substation being down, her pilot didn’t see the electric lines strung up in their path. The helicopter became entangled with the invisible power lines and crashed, killing Dan’s best friend. When the media got wind of Marla’s passing, Dan was immediately beset on all sides from people wanting to know his thoughts and wanting to capitalize on his rekindled fame.

From Underworld Unleashed #2 (1995)

Enraged, Dan returned to Hell where he fought Neron. Dan was killed during the fight only to be immediately resurrected as a true demon. With his soul no longer his own, Dan was forced to be reborn with even greater power and a new look. Dan was now truly a Blue Devil. It was no longer a suit magically glued to his body.

When he found his way back to Earth, and back to the Justice League, Dan still had a few issues to work out.

From Justice League America #109 (1996)

These were among Dan’s last days with the JLA. After the Big Seven returned to take over the Justice League name, Dan mostly wandered. Eventually, he found himself working with a new chapter of the Justice League Europe. Shortly thereafter, the daughter of the Golden Age Starman’s villain named the Mist came to Europe to see if she could kill a superhero. In a very short time, she managed to do just that. Now going by her father’s name, the Mist killed several heroes. After coming face-to-face with the Mist and finding out what she’d done, Dan began firing his trident at her. The trident started a fire that spread through the JLE compound, which caused the sprinkler system to become engaged. The Mist had thought ahead and filled the sprinkler’s reservoir with holy water. The holy water quickly killed Dan. It was his second death.

From Starman (Vol. 2) #38 (1998)

Since Dan wasn’t anywhere near Hell when he died the second time, he wasn’t immediately brought back to life. That would change when Faust, a magic user, resurrected him after collecting his bones. Upon his return, Dan found himself battling his old foe Nebiros. It seemed that the pair were always gunning for each other.

From Day of Judgment #4 (1999)

It was during this battle that Dan picked up a new weapon. Instead of the trumped up prop he originally used, he now had Lucifer’s Trident. With the Trident came a new mission in life: He was to track down demons who had, though nefarious means, escaped Hell. His new Trident could actually send them back where they belonged. Dan was doing both Heaven and Hell a favor with this mission.

After the Day of Judgment events, a sort of Justice League Magic formed. Called the Sentinels of Magic, this group traveled around the world, helping out where they could. Dan didn’t do a whole lot with the group, but he helped out where need be. He was mostly the strong, silent type during these years.

From JLA #68 (2002)

Evidently, the world didn’t need a group of magic users randomly walking around and the group faded from view. Since he had nothing better to do with himself, Dan got a job as the bouncer for a place called the Oblivion Bar. Located in its own dimension, the Oblivion Bar was a place that any magic user in the DCU could rest her or her hat between adventures. If anyone got out of hand, Dan was there to intervene.

Things went wrong for the magic community just prior to Infinite Crisis. The Spectre, newly freed of his human host, became obsessed with the idea that magic wasn’t natural. To restore nature’s balance, he decided to destroy all magic and all magic users in the DCU. When everyone else ran from the Spectre’s wrath, Dan stayed put with a collection of other stubborn heroes. Calling themselves the Shadowpact, the group went toe-to-toe against the Spectre and, eventually, lost.

From Day of Vengeance #3 (2005)

This is also the event that caused the Marvel Family to lose their powers. But then, we’ve already discussed that.

Luckily for Dan, the complete and utter failure of their first mission didn’t dissuade the group from sticking together. The Shadowpact remained allies after that Crisis and began to take on other missions with which they had a much higher success rate. Dan had a new place in the world and he seemed to be enjoying himself.

That began to change when the realities of his being a real, honest-to-goodness demon began to infect Dan’s everyday life. Suddenly, Dan began to rhyme.

From Shadowpact #9 (2007)

Among the various demon classes in Hell, the Rhymers are among the most revered. Dan had become a standout hero in the DCU, which caused little kids to look up to him. As he was a demon, this new found celebrity on Earth caused Hell’s rulers to favor Dan. The message that being a demon was cool had begun to permeate the culture and Hell thought Dan deserved a promotion for his hard work. This didn’t sit well with him. Though Dan was a lapsed Catholic, he still didn’t want Hell to have any influence on Earth. So, Dan met with the Church to find out what atonement he needed to undertake so he could cast off his demon body. It was decided that thirteen seemingly impossible tasks were to be done by Dan before Heaven would grant him his wishes. He jumped at the chance.

From Shadowpact #17 (2007)

After completing the tasks, Dan found out that the Church had just wanted him to do their dirty business. They thanked him, told him that they’d look into it or whatever, and sent him on his way.

Shortly after being massively let down, Dan discovered that it was his brother who had sold Dan’s soul to the Devil in his brother’s bid for power. Dan’s demon status wasn’t his fault after all. He convinced his brother, now a red devil named Jack of Fire, to release Jack’s hold over his soul. Jack agreed, which immediately granted him all of Dan’s former status and power in Hell. Glad to have his soul and original human body back but knowing that his brother will only use the new abilities for evil, Dan put on his original mechanical Blue Devil suit and fought Jack.

Shadowpact #25 (2008)

Jack killed himself after Dan defeated him, which shifted all of the power back to Dan. Once again, Dan became a real devil, but this time he kept his soul. He was no longer tainted by the role.

Shortly after the wonderful Shadowpact series wrapped up, the rather convoluted Reign in Hell miniseries started. It chronicled an insurrection in Hell. Even though the previous series had just completed a solid story concerning Dan and his soul, Dan decided to go to Hell to again battle to lose his Blue Devil persona. There he fought Etrigan, who promptly beat him to a pulp. Then, Etrigan stole his soul. For little reason, Etrigan, who was later dressed like Jason Blood, then gave Dan his soul back along with his Blue Devil self. The story was confusing and led nowhere.

From Reign in Hell #7 (2009)

Dan was last seen during the Blackest Night. There, he was a sidekick to the Phantom Stranger, who was attempting to battle both a Black Lantern-possessed Spectre and Deadman. Once again, the Spectre proved too much for Dan to handle, though a retreat was called before a decisive end to the battle was reached.

From Phantom Stranger (Vol. 2) #42 (2010)

That was the last time that Blue Devil appeared in the DCU. So far, he hasn’t shown up in the New 52, but my bet is that he’ll show up in the pages of Justice League Dark sooner or later. It’s only a matter of time. You just can’t keep a good devil down.


Jeff Reid can’t believe that anyone would sell their soul to the devil in this day and age. Have we learned nothing from our stories? Jeff tells stories 140 characters at a time on Twitter.

Comments

  1. He also appeared in that arc Cullen Bunn did on Superman and Batman.

  2. He’s a really fun character. Mashing up a few elements from across his career — the snark, the Hollywood satire, the DCU-hopping, the sinister occult vibe — could make a nice “Entourage/Extras meets Hellblazer” type series for the Dark end of the New 52 pool.

  3. Actually Blackest Night was not the last time Blue Devil appeared in the DCU pre New 52. He joined the Justice Society of America with issue #46 during Marc Guggenheim’s run. He appeared in that book until that book ended at issue #56 to make way for the New 52.

    • Oh, man. I had no idea. I fell off that book when Johns left and I didn’t see Blue Devil on any covers. Thanks for the update!

  4. Some odd random thoughts here…

    I started the bulk of my comics reading around 1986 at about 12 years old, with Who’s Who and Crisis on Infinite Earths, so I quickly figured out who just about everyone was pretty quickly. I always had the impression that Blue Devil had been around a long time before then, I’d never have realized he was only around for just a 1-2 years….of course to a 12 year old, that DOES feel forever.

    Blue Devil’s close-up face shot from Blue Devil #7 really brings to mind John DeLancie as Q from the first season of ST:TNG.

    Finally… I faded out of Shadowpact before the end of it’s first year and never read the Reign in Hell miniseries. I remember thinking Shadowpact was okay but not fantastic. It looks like I might have to check out the second half of the series!

    • Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

      Shadowpact was a pretty solid series. I enjoyed it more when it was written by Willingham for its first 16 issues, but Sturges’ issues were fine. It seemed obvious that both writers really liked Blue Devil as he had a lot to do in that series. Other characters, like Enchantress, got the short end of the storyline stick.

  5. Dude, I loved the first 12 issue of Blue Devil when I was 13. Not so much anymore. However, you’re inspiring to pick up some of these other stories. Thanks.

  6. Great article! Brought back so many memories! Personally, I’d prefer to see Blue Devil brought back as the fun character he was in the original first 6 issues, but I’d be happy with a Shadowpact-version as well. Just to see Dan Cassidy in the New 52 would be great!

    I’ve been fortunate enough to communicate with Blue Devil creators Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin. Super-nice guys. If you are a Blue Devil fan, then you might enjoy the following:

    100-minute Interview with Blue Devil Creators – Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn
    http://onceuponageek.com/2009/06/05/exclusive-interview-with-creators-of-blue-devil-amethyst-dan-mishkin-gary-cohn

    Blue Devil #1 Original Thumbnails by Gary Cohn
    http://onceuponageek.com/2009/08/06/blue-devil-1-original-thumbnails-from-creator/

    Original DC Comics Blue Devil proposal circa 1983
    http://onceuponageek.com/2010/06/02/original-blue-devil-proposal/

    Thanks,
    Shag