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Starman #24

Starman #24 Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Tony Harris (p. 1-9,11,13,16,17,19,21,22
Chris Sprouse (p. 10,12,14,15,18,20)
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger (p.1-4,9-22)
Ray Snyder (p. 5-8)
Letters: Oakley/N.J.Q.
Colors: Gregory Wright
Assistant Editor: Chuck Kim
Editor: Archie Goodwin

#24, November 1996
Hell and Back: Part One

Pretending to be Kyle, Jack visits The Mist at his room in the hospital where he is being kept on a morning when he has his faculties. Jack gives The Mist his medal, and stays to listen as The Mist tells him the story behind it. The medal, it turns out, is a Victoria Cross, given to soldiers who show exceptional bravery and self-sacrifice in the Canadian Army. He was given it after single-handedly leading a charge against the approaching German army. Once the Mist loses his faculties again, he calls his father and explains that he hunted for the medal mostly to prove to himself that Nash's words about them being a two-sided coin weren't true and that he could do something heroic just because it was right.

The Mist has seen better days.

As Jack leaves the hospital, he runs into Hope O'Dare who tells him about Matt and The Shade's disappearance into the poster. Later, Jack meets with Clarence, Mason, Hope and Barry in Clarence's new office, where Clarence tells Jack about his new job as the superhero liaison for the Opal City Police. He notes that the have captured the poster and that it is being held in the precinct house. Jack suggests the five of them search the city for signs of Merritt, knowing that he must still be close if they have his poster.

Looking for anything that might be useful, Jack starts combing through the journals that Shade loaned him. We find that Shade has been trying to keeping track of Merritt for the last century and that he first heard the of Merritt from Oscar Wilde, who knew Merritt as a student of the occult at Oxford in 1877. Two years late, Merritt summoned a demon and made his bargain for immortality. In exchange for eternal life, Merritt would become custodian of a magic poster: a portal into the Demon's realm, through which it could snatch the souls of others. A month later, Merritt set about traveling the world, so the demon could catch a variety of souls. He lived several lifetimes worth of adventure traveling the world, serving as an advisor to kings, a gun-runner, a riverboat gambler and a mail plane pilot among others. It is mentioned that he learned the specifics of the magic of his poster in the Andes Mountains and how portals to other plains could be painted on flat, portable things. Shade notes that her heard of an artist who did the same thing with a Hawaiian shirt; a reference to Harry Ajax, of who we heard in Starman #4.

Jack and Clarence guard over the poster.

Shade then writes about the more recent adventurers of the poster, and how for a time Merritt became the obsession of the famed detective Hamilton Drew, who pursued him throughout the 1920's. Eventually, the detective was consumed by the poster demon he had sought to capture for so long. The last two times Shade had heard word of the Poster Demon; when he fought a detective named Johnny Peril and then when he fought The Demon Etrigan.

After fighting The Mad Hatter (who has picked the wrong day to hit Opal) Jack and Clarence decide to put word out on street of where the poster is and then wait for Merritt to come to them. As they tell this plan to the rest of the O'Dare's, Jack gets a phone call from Charity. Charity tells Jack that he is hunting for a man named Merritt and that she knows this because she just had a vision of a man named Merritt killing her. At Jack's request, Clarence sends Mason to protect Charity. The issue ends as Mason sees Charity for the fist time, and we are told "the magic is upon him".