Thursday, October 22, 2015

Marvel Horror - Devil Hunter!

Earl Norem
The wild success of the movie The Exorcist changed horror for all time.

The devil and  his minions had been part of the cinema landscape for decades but suddenly the expressions of that evil on screen had become more toxic and viscerally terrifying. Lots of folks noticed, especially the success part.

That included Marvel Comics who lauched as part of their horror cascade in the early 70's a title called The Haunt of Horror.

Gray Morrow
Frank Kelly Freas
They'd launched another book with that title a few years before but it was a digest prose format with some great art and some outstanding covers.

The new Haunt of Horror starred Gabriel the Devil Hunter. He was a cross between Nick Fury (rough and tumble adventurer with an eye patch) and Father Damien Karras (a troubled and flawed demon fighter). He had a beautiful assistant named Desadia who is at once his helper and possessed a supernatural link to Gabriel's dead wife Andrea. To read the debut story follow this groovy link .

The pair battle demons who have taken possession of human beings. Gabriel works at great cost to himself to extract those demons, demons who know him and his tormented past.

Bob Larkin
The writer of all the is Doug Moench. The artists involved are Billy Graham who produces some masterfully atmospheric stories, Pablo Marcos who ads some oomph to the proceedings and later Sonny Trinidad who brings his own refined comic line to the character.

Gabriel shares space in the magazine right through the fifth and final issue. Then he moved over to the final issue of  Monsters Unleashed for a final outing. The cover by Frank Brunner for that issue is especially powerful.

Frank Brunner
Gabriel never became a big hit for Marvel, dying out after only a few entries. But the character was a memorable tie to a horror trend which dominated the pop culture and beyond in this country for a few years.

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  1. I’ve always been curious about the first 2 Haunt of Horror prose/digest issues. Weird Tales-like pulps, really then aren’t they? I’ve never seen them - though I notice Amazon currently has some used issues available for decent prices…

    1. I'd love to own copies. I'll have to check that out. Here's a link which shows off the artwork in those issues, great stuff.

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  2. Along these same lines were a couple of pulpish paperback series I remember from earlier in the 70s. There were the Dr Orient books by Frank Lauria . Interestingly, Dr O appeared as a back up in the Scorpio Rose comic, illustrated by Marshall Rogers and scripted by Lauria himself. I also picked up the Guardians series by Peter Saxon, initially because of the Jeffrey Jones covers. Both of these series involved teams of talented misfits combating occult menaces and demon possession. They seemed to be inspired by Dennis Wheatley as much as Blatty and, while I don't recall much in the way of details. were very much of the psychedelic era.

    1. All that lurid stuff from the day sounds very tasty. I don't think I knew that Doctor Orient preceded his appearances in Scorpio Rose but that's good info.

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