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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Does the Demon Rhyme All of the Time?

by  in Comic News Comment
The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Does the Demon Rhyme All of the Time?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the way that Etrigan the Demon’s rhymes have changed over the years.

Enjoy!

Etrigan the Demon debuted in The Demon #1 by Jack Kirby. He arrives complete with an awesome rhyming entrance…

However, as you can see from this sequence from #3…

after the rhyme that introduces him and then a quick couple of couplets…

Etrigan does not speak in rhyme.

That was the case for the rest of the Demon series. And even when the Demon began making appearances in other DC books in the 1970s, such as Wonder Woman #281 by Gerry Conway…

Things changed in 1984, though, when Etrigan showed up in DC Comics Presents #66 (written by Len Wein) rhyming…

and then Alan Moore has Etrigan show up in Saga of the Swamp Thing #27 (edited by Wein) also speaking in rhymes…

Whether it was a mistake or not by Wein and Moore, it is important to note that Moore addresses the change in Etrigan’s speech in the 1985 Swamp Thing Annual where we learn that Etrigan is a rhyming demon now…

In 1987, Matt Wagner did a Demon mini-series and he used the rhyming demon aspect of Etrigan…

However, John Byrne wanted to use Etrigan in an issue of Action Comics (then a team-up book written and penciled by Byrne) and he argued that Wein and Moore’s use of Etrigan as always rhyming was a mistake. So he did not have it appear in his book…

However, “Etrigan as a rhyming demon” was becoming an accepted piece of the DC Universe (heck, Wagner’s mini-series above was coming out CONCURRENT with Etrigan’s guest appearance in Action Comics).

Neil Gaiman even explained in Sandman #3 that Etrigan becoming a rhyming demon meant that he had received a sort of promotion in hell…

After a decade or so of Etrigan being a rhyming demon, Byrne finally got the chance to rectify the situation. In the pages of Wonder Woman #132, Byrne reveals that the rhyming was not a matter of Etrigan getting a promotion to being a rhyming demon, but rather the side effect of a spell by Etrigan’s long time enemy, Morgaine Le Fey (Byrne used this same spell to retcon some other Demon plots. Don’t worry, I’ll address them in the future, so don’t bother mentioning them in the comments).

And in Wonder Woman #134, the spell is broken and Etrigan no longer speaks in rhyme…

However, in Etrigan’s next three appearances in DC books, he continues to speak in rhyme, from Lobo #63…

to Action Comics #762…

to Supergirl #66…

It seems like writers just dig using the rhymes.

Anyhow, John Byrne later wrote and penciled (with a script by Will Pfeifer) a new Demon series, and sure enough, while others did not follow the reversion that Byrne put into place with regards to the Demon, Byrne certainly did….

In Etrigan’s first appearance after the Byrne series ended, Bill Willingham splits the baby by keeping Etrigan’s rhyming demon history intact…

but also not having Etrigan speak in rhyme…

This, of course, did not stay put either, as seen in this bit from Superman and Batman versus Werewolves #5…

In case you’re curious about Etrigan’s speech patterns in the New 52, Paul Cornell used a bit of both in the pages of Demon Knights. The rhymes are still present…

but Etrigan does not ONLY speak in rhyme…

I’d end this installment with a piece of rhyme but I really don’t want to put in the…work.

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