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Appearing in "The Haunting of Christiansboro!"

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Synopsis for "The Haunting of Christiansboro!"

The Gargoyle has spent almost a week roaming the streets of New York in disguise. As he wanders the streets one rainy night, he is accosted by a pair of muggers who are frightened away when they reveal the Gargoyle's grim visage. Fleeing the man-monster they are stopped and magically sent off to the police by Clea who has been tracking Gargoyle down with Devil-Slayer since his disappearance. When they learn that he left because he sees himself as nothing more than a monster, Clea reaffirms to him that not only is he a fellow Defender, but he is also a friend.

While in New Jersey, Hellcat and Valkyrie search the ruins of Patsy's house. As they search Patsy confides in Val her current lot in life and wonders if she is truly the daughter of Satan. They come across her old Shadow Cloak, and as she picks it up, a young boy suddenly comes through it, running away and screaming for help. Realizing that the Shadow Cloak is not an item to deal with lightly, Patsy decides she is better off without it and folds it into itself teleporting it away to points unknown. They are then summon mystically by Clea to return to Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, a call they answer at once.

In Washington D.C., Kyle Richmond, his lawyer and Matt Murdock are listening to the final decision of the Justice Department regarding his charges of tax evasion and other corporate crimes when he is contacted by Clea. He sends her away, and soon learns that his company has been cleared of any wrong doing and only needs to pay back taxes of $767,000.00. With his legal troubles over, Kyle is wheeled out of by his nurse Luann and they run into August Masters, who tells Richmond that he had a hand in clearing up his legal troubles. Kyle furious, about Master's manipulations of his ex-girlfriend Mindy Williams and the cover-up he created when Kyle tried to expose his involvement, tells him off,

At Dr. Strange's Sanctum, the other Defenders listen to the troubles of their friend the Gargoyle: He explains that his family founded the town of Christiansboro years ago and it became a thriving community until recent times. Loving his town so much that he would do anything to save it, Isaac delved into the occult and made a deal with the Six-Fingered Hand, leading to his transformation into the Gargoyle -- something that was supposed to be temporary until after he did their bidding. However, he betrayed the Six-Fingered Hand to the Defenders so he was left trapped in his Gargoyle form. Since then he has been worried about the fate of Christiansboro. Listening to their depressed friend tell his tale, Valkyrie suggests that they travel to Christiansboro and investigate what is happening there and see what they can do. With everyone in agreement, they teleport away in Devil-Slayer's Shadow Cloak. Just after they leave, there is a knock at the door which Wong answers to find the Avenger known as the Beast there asking if he can see Dr. Strange. When Wong informs him that the doctor is not in, Beast asks if he can wait.

The Defenders appear in Christiansboro to find the town completely deserted. Unaware of what has happened, they decide to split up into groups and try to find clues as to where the townspeople had gone. Going solo, Hellcat comes across a young man named Simple Joe. Joe tells her that following the Gargoyle's departure from Christiansboro, the town was attacked nightly by strange ghosts that forced pretty much everyone in town but him to flee. Suddenly, Hellcat and Simple Joe are surrounded by a swirling fog and they are swallowed up in darkness.

The Gargoyle meanwhile has travelled to his own family home where he is shocked to see the spirit of his brother, Jeremiah, who died as a young boy. Jeremiah had fallen off the roof and died as a child and he knows that Isaac has blamed himself for the tragic accident. Jeremiah tells Isaac that it's silly to blame himself because life is full of accidents, then he jumps off the roof and disappears in the mist. Elsewhere in town, Clea and Valkyrie walk the streets and come across a stray cat. The cat is friendly at first but then is suddenly attacks Valkyrie, and they are then swarmed by the hands of spirits that come crashing out of storefront windows and they too are swallowed up in darkness. As this is happening the Gargoyle enters his home where he is visited by his mother. His mother comforts him and recounts how after World War I, Isaac had travelled the world learning all sorts of occult secrets until her death. The encounter and his mother's sudden departure fills Isaac with eternal grief. The Devil-Slayer has wandered into the Christiansboro cemetery where he comes across the little girl. This little girl turns out to be a trap of the angry force that resides in the area and Devil-Slayer like his comrades before him is swallowed up in the darkness as well.

The Defenders awaken shortly after and find themselves in front of the force behind the haunting of Christiansboro: A creature called Null, the Living Darkness. Null explains to them that he is what is left of the S'raphh, a race of winged humanoids who dwelt on the surface of Earth's Moon millennia ago. Originally a pure-hearted race, the S'raphh had set out into space in an attempt to find the reason for being but, when they failed to find this existential truth, they were all overcome by despair and returned home to the Moon where they committed racial suicide by diving into the ocean of fire that then roared across the lunar surface. However, although their physical forms died, their tormented collectve unconscious survived and cried out for revenge against the universe that had denied their quest for meaning. After ages, this torment gave birth to Null, the Living Darkness. Having revealed its origin, the creature then attempts to destroy the Defenders.

While back at the Christians family home, the Gargoyle in utter despair attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself, but finds his new form makes it impossible for him to do so. The spirits of his parents and brother appear to him and chastise him for being a failure before forcing him to flee from the home. Gargoyle comes across Null the Living Darkness and his zombie hordes fighting his comrades. Using his life-force absorbing powers the Gargoyle manages to incapacitate the reanimated corpses before attacking Null itself. Finding an outward attack ineffective, the Gargoyle flies into the creature's immaterial mass and uses his powers to pour his own life-energy out into Null, something that the creature finds so unbearable that it escapes the only way it can and seemingly dies. The victory comes at a price as the Gargoyle is mortally wounded. However, before he can die, the spirits of his family appear before him and his father tells him that they were sent back to help him bury the past because he has a destiny to serve and defend humanity. After his father tells Isaac that they love him, the spirits enter his body and revive him. When Clea asks Isaac how he feels, he tells her that he has never felt so darn good in all his 78 years!

Notes

  • This story takes place on October 31st.
  • The first names of the parents of Isaac Christians weren't mentioned in this issue and would not be revealed until the entry for the Gargoyle was published in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #4.

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