Welcome to what I hope to be the first of many Geekin’! Character Spotlights! Where I’ll be spotlighting lesser known characters and bringing you up to date on their origin, a little bit of their publication history, and their current status on the comic book world.
This week we’re focusing on DEMOGOBLN!
Demogoblin is a Spider-Man villain from the 90s that, as a 90s kid, was one of my favorite villains. He went toe-to-toe with superheroes and villains alike; Captain America, Blade, Ghost Rider, Carnage, Venom, and Hobgoblin…
Yikes! Okay, okay, big guy! Let’s turn it down to a slow simmer, shall we? Demogoblin is, in my opinion, one of the most under-rated and unsung Spidey-villains, and certainly with some of the highest, untapped potential.
Starting as a nameless demon possessing Hobgoblin granting him strength and powers in exchange for his soul, brokered by N’astirh, Demogoblin struggled for control of Hobgoblin’s body for a long while. After much frustration, Demogoblin breaks free into his own physical form in Web of Spider-Man #86 (1992). Demogoblin took on the mission to “cleanse the sinners”, his religious fervor a driving force for the character.
Demogoblin spent the next few months getting into minor scuffles with Marvel’s Supernatural community, including Ghost Ride, Blaze, and Moon Knight. The conflicts always ended up Demogoblin being thrown in jail. In fact, his second encounter with Moon Knight happened when Moon Knight paid Demogoblin a visit in jail, Demogoblin having infected Moon Knight with a demon virus. Demogoblin attacked Moon Knight, the virus seperated from Moon Knight becoming it’s own entity known as Pang. Moon Knight left defeated Demogoblin and left him in jail.
Demogoblin was eventually freed once again and shortly after teamed up with Carnage, Shriek, Doopleganger, and Carrion during the Maximum Carnage story arc. Spider-Man and a team of various superheroes finally defeated the group after Carnage’s team went on a murder spree. Up until this point, Demogoblin’s ‘mission’ to rid the world of sinners seemed like a weakly veiled excuse for murder, as he attacked and attempted to murder criminals, police officers, and even clergy. No one seemed pure enough for Demogoblin.
After being thrown in prison, again, Demogoblin began to question his mission. He began attempting to team up with other characters whose missions seemed to line-up with his; seeking out the likes of Blade, whom unfortunately at the time was possesed and killed Demogoblin. Resurrected, again, Demogoblin ran into Venom and Morbius, losing the battles and being thrown in jail each time. In Spider-Man #46 (Beware the Rage of a Desperate Man Part 1) Demogoblin seems to have had some sort of epiphany. He’s lost his way. Deviated too far from his mission. He decides he must confront Hobgoblin and forgive him of his sins. The reason for this isn’t exactly clear, but it seems Demogoblin feels a kinship to Hobgoblin for being the human who was responsible for his being on the mortal plane. When he confront Hobgoblin (Hob being outside of his costume as the not-so-mild-mannered Jason Macendale) the scene attracts the attention of Spider-Man, who defeats Demogoblin but is unable to capture Hobgoblin. Hobgoblin throws pumpkin bombs at Spider-Man and flees while the wall-crawler is distracted.
Spidey throws Demogoblin back in prison. While confined this time, Demogoblin decides that then and there is the time and place for him to set things right; to return to his righteous mission of cleansing the world of sinners. He easily breaks from his constraints and takes over Ryker’s Island. When Spidey shows up and confronts him, Demogoblin strikes up a conversation. He questions Spider-Man’s methods and asks why killing the repeat offenders isn’t the right course, if they’re just going to sin again. Spider-Man really has no good argument, and instead opts to attack Demogoblin and save the criminal hostage. Spider-Man admits it’d be easy to lose control and start killing his enemies, but says “Who am I kidding? I’m a hero.” before pummling Demogoblin some more. Demogoblin warns Spider-Man, “You’ll be hounded by your enemies… the sinners… for the rest of your days.” Spider-Man says that’s just something he’ll have to live with, but tells Demogoblin he’s worried that men like Demogoblin won’t stop until everyone’s dead. Demogoblin makes an escape through the roof, retorting “What you say is true… None but the pure will live. IF such a person exists!”
Meanwhile, Hobgoblin makes a deal with Kraven’s son to use his father’s serum to give him the strength he needs to defeat Demogoblin. Kraven tries to kill Hobgoblin during the procedure, but due to an unforeseen anomaly in Hobgoblin’s blood chemistry it didn’t work. Hobgoblin decides to leave Kraven’s son alive, since he did get what he wanted, after all, and heads to confront Demogoblin. Their bond creating a slight psychic link between the two, Hobgoblin waits at a church and summons Demogoblin for one last showdown.
The fight moves inside the church, Hobgoblin easily clobbering Demogoblin at every turn. The altercation attracts police attention, and therefore, Spider-Man’s. Spider-Man enters the church to takedown both goblins. Not knowing about Hobgoblin’s enchancements, Spider-Man takes out Demogoblin first by throwing a piece of pillar, broken from the fight, knocking Demogoblin aside. Hobgoblin easily dispatches Spider-Man, tossing him to the side and turns his attention back to Demogoblin. As Hobgoblin tosses Demogoblin around like a ragdoll, Demogoblin realizes another pillar is about to come down – on top of a small girl sitting next to her unconscious mother (presumably knocked out during the fight). Finding the strength to wrestle himself away from Hobgoblin, Demogoblin claims the child an innocent and therefore in need of his protection. He rushes to the pillar, holding it up, though Hobgoblin attacks him. Seeing Demogoblin struggling to keep the pillar off the girl, Spider-Man attacks Hobgoblin, knocking him away from Demogoblin. Demogoblin ordered Spider-Man to save the child. Spider-Man grabbed the mother and child and got to safety just as Demogoblin’s strength gave out; the pillar crashing on top of him and killing him. Spider-Man returned and noted there wasn’t enough of him left to identify as… whatever he was. Hobgoblin escaped.
Demogoblin has of yet to resurrect, Marvel having left him dead (issue of death, Spider-Man #48 July 1994) for nearly two decades now; a long time for a character to remain dead, as comic fans are well aware. Unless your Uncle Ben or Bruce Wayne’s parents. But the events leading to Demogoblin’s demise leaves one wondering if his “mission” really was just a thinly veiled attempt at justifying murder, or if he really did have a higher calling and rules and regulations as to what constituted a sinner. If so, where did those orders come from? Was his mission truly righteous? Did the people Demogoblin kill really deserve their fate? We may never know the truth, but I, for one, sincerely hope that’s not the last we’ve seen of the Demogoblin and his hellfire bat-glider.