Appearing in "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"
- The Messiah (Only appearance; dies)
- Six Fingered Hand
- Asmodeus Jones (Only in flashback)
- Vampires (Only in flashback)
- Hulk (Only in flashback)
- Agent of Fortune (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"
Continued from last issue...
Following their battle with Fashima in Detroit, the Defenders have returned to Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum to learn why Hellcat burst out in hysterical laughter following their battles conclusion. Dr. Strange probes her mind to see if there are remaining traces of Avarrish remaining inside her following her possession at the demons hand. There appears to be and it violently lashes out of Hellcat, and she feels normal after the fact.
The group is then visited by Devil-Slayer who teleports into Strange's Sanctum on an invitation by Strange who got into contact with him during their case against the Six-Fingered Hand. Devil-Slayer has come to them to help them investigate his estranged wife Cory Payne's letter telling him that there is a healer called David Kessler in Israel who has started calling himself the Massiah and amassed a group of followers -- Payne's wife among their number. Agreeing that occult forces are at work and that it may be the work of the Six-Fingered Hand, the Defenders agree to accompany Devil-Slayer to Israel to investigate, teleporting there right away. While far off in the Florida Everglades, the Man-Thing finds himself strangely attracted to a rift in time and space.
Our heroes arrive in Israel, and Dr. Strange disguises them with a illusion spell to appear as normal tourists. It is daytime in Israel, making Nighthawks powers fade and his immobility return. They arrive at an oasis where Kessler and his followers are performing a ritual at. The Defenders watch in disbelief as Kessler manages to make a blind man see again. Seeing the immobilized Richmond, Kessler takes him and performs his healing ritual on him while Devil-Slayer confronts his wife and tells her that he hasn't come to join Kessler's followers, but to expose him as a demoniacally possessed pawn. She refuses to believe him, and tells him Kessler's origins: That he was a young man who protested against the Vietnam war, after the war ended he worked with rehabilitating handicapped children until one day he decided to go to Israel to learn his roots. There he was supposedly visited by an angel who named him the new massiah and gave him the powers he now has.
After the story is told, Kessler magically restores Kyle's ability to move, much to the surprise of all gathered. Unconvinced that this is an act of god, Daimon and Isaac confront Kessler to have him tell the truth. He surprises them when upon contact he shatters the illusions making them appear as normal. Offended by the "devils" before him, Kessler surprises the Defenders as he calls down an army of Archangels seemingly from Heaven to attack them. During the battle, Dr. Strange realizes that Kessler genuinely believes his powers are a gift from God, and realizes that the Archangels are merely demons in disguise. He uses his magical powers to reveal the truth. With this realization, Kessler is shaken to the core allowing the demon Hyppokri to take possession of his body.
When Cory tries to talk reason into "Kessler", Hyppokri shoves her aside sending Devil-Slayer against him. Devil-Slayer is easily knocked down by an eldrich bolt however before Hyppokri can slay Eric, Kessler takes control of his body once more. Horrified at being made a pawn of evil he commits suicide by jumping on Devil-Slayers sword, dying instantly and setting Hyppokri loose. With Hyppokri's defeat the "Archangels" disappear as well. With the battle over, Devil-Slayer points out to his estranged wife the dangers of of blindly following such men of fantastic power, because despite all their good intentions, as the old sayings go "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".
- Uncredited inks by Trapani and Abel.
- Uncredited letters by Parker and Rosen.
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- ↑ First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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