Appearing in "...Hunger..."
Synopsis for "...Hunger..."
Eric Simon Payne, the Devil-Slayer, journeys to the Negative Zone with the body of his deceased friend, “Sunshine” Gross. Wracked with guilt and self-pity, he has come there—where the worlds of matter and anti-matter collide—to die, but he does not want to die. The spirit of “Sunshine” (or perhaps a figment of Payne’s imagination?) tells him to leave, so he returns to Earth and appears in a bar. Payne orders two drinks for himself and his friend, but “Sunshine” refuses to drink and tells Payne that drinking will kill him just as drug addiction killed “Sunshine.” Payne says that it was he who killed “Sunshine”, not drugs, but Gross claims that Payne saved his soul. Payne is confused—how can he save the soul of a man he killed? Travelling through the dimensions within his shadow cloak gives no answer, so Devil-Slayer seeks out the mob boss, Carlo Boccino, who hired him to kill Ian Fate, blaming him for the death of Fate’s family and “Sunshine.” Boccino recalls that Payne came to him begging for work, so he gave it to Payne. He says that he has enough blood on his hands without taking on Payne’s sins as well. Devil-Slayer realizes that Boccino is right and apologizes. He returns to the Negative Zone to die, but then decides to visit an old friend from Vietnam named Brian Kingston. Although Kingston lost a leg in the war, Payne is envious to see Kingston living happily with a wife and children and feels that such happiness has been denied to him. Payne returns again to the Negative Zone and talks to “Sunshine’s” ghost who tells Devil-Slayer that he can’t blame the war or his wife for what has gone wrong in his life—he can only blame himself. Devil-Slayer realizes that neither fate nor destiny has brought him to this point, but his own weaknesses. So why can’t he face death like a man? Payne returns to Earth once more, this time to the city of Jerusalem, where his wife, Cory, has been staying since leaving the followers of Michael Kessler. Cory finds Payne ill and nurses him back to health. She has since found happiness in Christianity, but Devil-Slayer cannot believe in a merciful God—because if such a being existed, how could He possibly forgive Payne of all his sins? Payne strikes out at Cory and departs again for the Negative Zone, but Cory jumps into the shadow cloak with him and is also brought there. Cory says that, if Payne wants to die, that she is willing to die with him. Devil-Slayer returns Cory to Jerusalem and begs her to help him believe. Cory later sends Dr. Strange a letter telling him that Payne surrendered to the police for his crimes and that she has moved near the prison to support him spiritually. She believes that, with time and faith, Eric Simon Payne will become a new man.