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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Stalker 1 - Stalker debuts

Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood introduce Stalker, another Conan style character, with issue 1 (June/July 1975). This is one of the worst named heroes one could imagine. I mean, I guess naming a hero Rapist would be worse, but Stalker is bad enough.

The story begins with Stalker sneaking in to Castle Loranth and hurling a knife, with a letter attached, at the head of the Baroness. It seems like he misses, although the letter makes clear that he wasn't aiming to kill her, just to let her know that he wants vengeance on her for the way she treated him.

Then the story jumps backwards to fill in the backstory to this scene. We meet Stalker a street kid in this medieval-ish realm. He has no family, and not even a name. He dreams of being a knight, and approaches the Baroness one day as she passes by in the streets. He offers his services to her, and she agrees to take him in and train him to be a knight, but then just puts him to work doing menial service. The kid eventually gets sick of this, and complains to the Baroness. She coldly informs him that he will never be a knight, and orders him whipped for his insolence. 

The boy escapes from the castle and returns to the streets. He goes to where there are temples for many gods, and offers himself to the statue of Drgth, the demon god of warriors. Drgth turns out to be more appreciative than the Baroness. He manifests for the kid, and magically endows him with prowess in all fighting skills, hand to hand and with weapons, as well as superior tracking abilities. He also gives him a name, Stalker. I guess getting named that by a demon god is better than choosing it yourself.

The price that Drgth demands is Stalker's soul. The boy agrees, thinking it's one of those soul-after-you-die deals, but Drgth takes it immediately, leaving him alive, but with no conscience or emotions. Then we catch up to the opening scene. Stalker delivers his note, but finds that he is taking no pleasure in his revenge.

Stalker returns to the temple to demand his soul back, but Drgth will not manifest for him again. Stalker battles one of Drgth's priests. The only information he gets from the priest is that the entrance to Drgth's realm is at a temple at World's End Sea. Stalker kills the priest, and sets out for the temple.

The story continues in the next issue.

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