BLUE DEVILMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1984
Creators: Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn (writers) and Paris Cullins (artist)
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The comics medium got its name by being comic — that is, funny. That's why the word was applied to the humor sections of late 19th century American newspapers. By the time the papers started publishing non-humorous picture stories, about a quarter-century
later, the term was firmly established. Famous Funnies, the first modern-style comic book, contained a mixture of funny and serious features.
By the 1980s, near-obsessive reliance on the adolescent male demographic had all but driven humor out of comic books in favor of testosterone-charged superheroes. It was in that decade that Gold Key and Harvey Comics, which mostly did humor, both gave up the ghost (the latter, in true comic book fashion, more than once), leaving only Archie Comics to specialize in that style. Writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn (who also collaborated on Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld) and artist Paris Cullins (Forever People) created Blue Devil in an attempt to bring comedy back to comics, and still appeal to the superhero fans.
Blue Devil came to be when Hollywood stunt man and special effects expert Dan Cassidy got into a fracas with a recently-revivified demon named Nebiros. Fortunately, Dan happened to be wearing a special effects suit he'd made for an upcoming movie. It enhanced his strength, enabled him to hurl high-powered explosives, repelled demonic energy blasts, and other nifty things. Also, it included a trident that contained its own high-tech weaponry.
Unfortunately, the suit got fused with his body during the fight. Nebiros was defeated, of course, but from then on, Dan was Blue Devil all the time. It was the beginning of his career as a "weirdness magnet", as he called his new-found propensity for attracting supernatural menaces, homicidal robots, and other less-than-ordinary threats to the lives of those around him (and his own dignity).
The fight and the fusion happened in DC Comics' Blue Devil #1, dated June, 1984, but that wasn't the character's first appearance. Like Dial H for Hero, The New Teen Titans and several other 1980s DC launches, he was previewed in a 16-page insert in another comic. Blue Devil was first seen in Fury of Firestorm #24, which appeared earlier that same month.
Blue Devil's supporting cast included a boss (producer Marla Bloom), a girlfriend (actress Sharon Scott) and a sidekick (Marla's nephew Kevin, who started dressing up as "Kid Devil" in #14). The Trickster (one of The Flash's favorite bad guys) also became a regular, first as a villain and later as a fellow stunt man and special effects consultant.
Like most post-Plastic Man attempts at humorous superheroes, this one didn't last. DC gave it a valiant shot (31 issues and an annual), but the title ended with its December, 1986 issue. Once he was no longer anchoring a series, Blue Devil became a minor element of the DC Universe, and as such, subject to some very non-humorous tinkerings by writers who didn't share his creators' leanings. He was still a weirdness magnet, but this manifest itself mainly by having him transformed into an actual demon. (The fact that he died and came back scarcely even counts as weirdness in comic books.) He got involved in a mid-1990s incarnation of the old Justice League. Later, he hooked up with a group calling itself The Sentinels of Magic, which included Sentinel (formerly Green Lantern), Ragman, The Phantom Stranger and a few other occult-style characters.
When last seen, Blue Devil was a freelance demon (i.e., not affiliated with Hell), and he busied himself with tracking down and banishing other demons. Recently, he's been associated with Shadowpact, in which he, Detective Chimp, Nightmaster and a few other DC odds and ends engage in supernatural doings.