Etrigan: Who is the Demon Knight?

Etrigan’s Rhymes & Crimes

(Check out a special rhyming version of this backstory!)

Jason Blood:Gone, gone, the form of man! Arise, the demon-
Etrigan:ETRIGAN! [conjures his sword] Once more with words of meat and rhyme comes Etrigan the slayer, just in time.

Justice League: Dark

A group of wraiths rampage through a desecrated church, hunting the humans who have taken refuge there. They corner a pair of children and prepare to take their souls. The church doors fly open before they strike, revealing a dour-faced man with white-streaked hair. He recites a prayer and splashes the wraiths with holy water, banishing a few of them.

The remaining wraiths split, half attacking the man while the rest go for the children. He dodges past the wraiths and stands in front of the children. The man chants as flames engulf him. Where once was a man now stands a demon. A burst of hellfire incinerates the remaining wraiths. Etrigan spares a contemptuous glance at the children before reverting to his human form.

Etrigan is one of DC Comics darkest anti-heroes. While he usually helps save the world, there have been many occasions where he acts as a villain, literally bedeviling heroes. So who is he? Why is a demon helping humanity? What is his connection to occultist Jason Blood? Let’s find out.

Sword and Sorcery: Etrigan’s Backstory

Etrigan:Release me, Merlin, from your care.
My duty’s done. Tis’ only fair

Justice League Dark

Etrigan debuted in The Demon #1 in 1972. He was created by Jack Kirby, who based the demon’s appearance on a mask worn by the comic strip character Prince Valiant. Fun fact: Etrigan is an anagram of the word “granite.”

In Camelot’s darkest hour, Merlin summoned a demon named Etrigan to fight the forces of Morgan lé Fay. The demon routed her forces, but Morgan escaped. With Camelot in ruins and King Arthur dead, Merlin bound Etrigan to a knight named Sir Jason to hunt her down.

The demon and the knight did not work well together. Etrigan’s innate nature drove him to corrupt and torment people he encountered. Sir Jason himself was slowly corrupted, using the demon’s massacres to earn himself wealth and fame. Fearful peasants began whispering tales about “Jason o’ the blood”, which eventually became Jason Blood.

Sir Jason was driven mad when Etrigan unleashed a horde of demons to slaughter an army. Etrigan wiped Jason’s memory, inadvertently trapping himself because Jason could no longer speak the spell to unleash him.

Demonic Defender: Etrigan’s History

Etrigan:You know not the fury the demon hath.
Let go the girl or face my wrath!

Gentleman Ghost:I think the girl’s safer with me than you, creature.

Batman: the Brave and the Bold “Trials of the Demon” (Season 1, Episode 15)

Jason Blood wandered the world for years, gaining a reputation as a skilled occultist. He eventually settled in Gotham City. While consulting at a dig site, Morgan led Jason to Merlin’s tomb where he read Etrigan’s summoning spell and inadvertently released the demon. Etrigan immediately fought Morgan, who fled only to once more become a thorn in his side.

Etrigan resumed his chaotic antics, but was held in check by Jason, who wanted to use his infernal powers for good. The demin has tempted heroes, thwarted villains, tried to conquer the world, and was DC’s Republican nominee for President in 1992.

Etrigan’s deeds earned him a promotion in Hell, elevating him to nobility. This gave him a substantial power boost at the cost of forcing him to always speak in rhyme. If that wasn’t enough, he once claimed the Crown of Horns and ruled as the de facto King of Hell.

Etrigan is a loner by nature, but he’s occasionally joined a team. He led a group of warriors and mystics called the Demon Knights back in the Medieval era. He was once recruited for a substitute Justice League when the League was seemingly killed. In modern times, Etrigan is part of Justice League Dark, a magic-based spinoff of the main team led by John Constantine.

Hellish Hero: Etrigan’s Powers and Personality

Etrigan:So, Constantine calls once more. Just like a greedy, wanton w-
Constantine:Save the bloody rhymes and chop that git!

Justice League Dark

Etrigan is one of the strongest demons in the DC Universe. He has super strength, durability, and speed. He is able to breathe hellfire and knows countless spells and rituals. He has a powerful healing factor and doesn’t age, but he can be killed.

Etrigan’s most notable trait is his compulsion to rhyme. This is part and parcel with his position as a noble of Hell. Writers can’t agree if he always does it or only rhymes while casting spells. He can speak normally, but it is difficult and painful. Almost as painful as some of the rhymes less skilled writers have him speak.

Jason Blood lacks Etrigan’s raw power, but he isn’t a slouch himself. He’s an expert sword-fighter and fully trained knight. He has picked up numerous magical trinkets and spells, giving him almost as much of a mystical repertoire as the demon. 

Etrigan is a pretty standard demon. He acts on his impulses, hates most people, and loves making others suffer. He does have a tiny amount of good in him. Jason Blood is chivalrous, world-weary, and often annoyed at having to clean up the demon’s messes.

The Actors Who Play Etrigan

Billy Zane – The New Batman Adventures
Michael T. Weiss – Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited
Dee Bradley Baker – Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Patrick Seitz – Justice League Action
Ray Chase – Justice League Dark, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

Didya Get All That?

A demon very reluctantly on the side of the angels.

Etrigan image courtesy DC Comics.

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