|Publisher||DC Comics |
|First appearance||DC Special #4 |
|Created by||Mark Hanerfield |
|Team affiliations||The Dreaming |
Council of Immortals
Possibly immortal and apparently indestructible; Resurrects from any fatal wound inflicted by Cain
Abel is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. He is a key figure in DC's "Mystery" line of the late 1960s and 1970s while being depicted as an horror host, which he later became a part of the mature-readers imprint, Vertigo, in 1993. The Sandman comic books retconed him as part of the Dreaming. He is depicted as the brother of Cain and son of Eve.
Originally Abel was the respective "host" of the EC-style horror comic anthology House of Secrets, which ran from the 1950s through the early 1980s. During the 1970s, he also co-hosted (along with Cain and Eve) the horror/humor anthology Plop! Both comics had been running Dial H for Hero and Eclipso, respectively, before the introduction of the new host characters.
Abel, created by Mark Hanerfeld, Bill Draut, and Joe Orlando, first appeared in DC Special #4 (July–September 1969), and began hosting The House of Secrets with #81 (August–September 1969). Hanerfeld was the model for Abel, and he also appeared in a photograph in Elvira's House of Mystery #4. modeled on writer Len Wein, who was new to the field.
On the letters page of Weird Mystery Tales #3 (November 1972), Destiny stated that Cain, Abel, and Eve were not the same characters as their biblical counterparts, whom Destiny said he found much more pleasant. Cain, Eve, and to a lesser extent, Abel, subsequently taunt Destiny for being dull.
The cover of Vertigo's mostly-reprint Welcome Back to the House of Mystery showed Abrl returning with Cain and Gregory. The House of Secrets and The Witching Hour were eventually merged with The Unexpected and canceled around the same time.
Fictional character biography
House of Secrets
Abel stammeringly took abuse from both Cain and the House of Secrets itself, and had an "imaginary" (it was always rendered in quotes) girlfriend named Goldie, who berated him too. In the early issues, Abel told the stories directly to Goldie, although he always appeared to be alone. He said she was a ghost.
Abel moved in with Cain in the House of Mystery shortly before DC Special #4, which Cain states is a temporary situation until the House of Secrets is transported (which occurred in House of Secrets #81, which appeared one month later). Their ages are vague, but Abel presents a story that he claims to have heard from Cain, who scared him with it as a child in 1957. The story in question originally appeared in Tales of the Unexpected #17 (September 1957).
In 1985, the due brothers were revived by writer Alan Moore, who introduced them into his Swamp Thing series in the issue #33, retelling the Swamp Thing's original origin story as depicted in a 1971 issue of House of Secrets. Cain kills Abel for revealing a secret (the difference between a mystery and a secret is that a mystery can be shared and still remains a mystery) and declares to Abby Holland, "I invented murder!" In Blue Devil #20 (January 1986), Cain is the caretaker of "The House of Weirdness" until Blue Devil moves in, and discovers that Abel is there, too. He states that the California mansion is owned by "a publishing company back East".
Cain and Abel reappeared in Swamp Thing #49-50, where they acted as observers and commentators on a fierce battle in Hell. They were depicted together in Abel's first appearance, and they parted to their respective Houses at the end of the story, the House of Secrets having been recently moved, with Cain promising things not to go the way they happened before. Although Cain would abuse Abel, he was not shown killing him until Swamp Thing vol. 2 #33. More often than not, though, they did not appear together, and Cain directed more of his taunts at the reader, while Abel tried to reassure Goldie or the reader. Indeed, in The House of Mystery #257 (April 1978), an asylum escapee, "Killer" Cowan, kills six people on Christmas Eve, storming into the House of Mystery wearing a Santa Claus suit and demands Cain to keep him occupied by entertaining him with stories. Cain protests that he does not want to entertain someone who ruins all that the holiday stands for. Abel is said to be a voyeur in Secrets of Sinister House #14, and shown to be such in The Sandman #60.
In Gaiman's Sandman universe, it is implied by dialogue between Lucifer and Cain (who had been sent by Dream as a messenger due to his invulnerability) that the biblical Cain and Abel came to live in the Dreaming at Dream's invitation. To support this, Lucifer quotes the verse in the Bible which says that Cain was sent to live in the Land of Nod. This could be a post-Crisis retcon, however, as Destiny claimed in Weird Mystery Tales #3 that they were not the same as the Biblical Cain and Abel. The nature of reality in the Dreaming is often multiple and when Cain, Abel, and Eve are telling young Daniel Hall three stories, Cain objects to Abel's "Lil' Endless" style retelling of their origin claiming that "... they (the Endless) didn't even look remotely human, none of us did!" Abel later responds to Matthew the Raven's query about whether they are their biblical namesakes or not by stating; "...oh, none of this happened on Earth..." before being interrupted by Cain. Eve also states that she is not Cain's mother to which Cain replies, "You're everyone's mother". This sequence of events would seem to indicate that rather than being the actual literal beings Cain, Abel, and Eve the Dreaming's incarnation of them are closer to their archetypal roles of first murderer, first victim, and first mother. This is supported by several incidents when Cain or Abel have identified themselves as such and claimed that their cycle of murder and resurrection is punishment for their role in the first murder. This would also allow Joe Kubert's DC Comics adaptation of the Cain and Abel story from the Bible, in which he ignored their "Mystery" likenesses, to fit neatly into canon.
Cain frequently kills Abel in a kind of macabre form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, re-enacting the first murder. In the Dreaming, Abel's death is impermanent, and he seems to recover after a few hours. Cain seems unable to control his frequent murders of Abel, and occasionally expresses remorse over them; there is a genuine bond between the two, beneath the surface contempt. Abel remains dedicated to Cain, and frequently dreams of a more harmonious relationship between the two.
In turn, in the graphic novel The Sandman: The Wake, Cain is so distraught when Abel is murdered permanently by The Kindly Ones, he sinks into a rambling mess when asking the new Dream to restore him. In preparation for the funeral services for the deceased Dream, Cain's anger boils over yet again when Abel reveals a secret, but he is calmed by a reprimand and restrained from murdering Abel. He displays a contract, renewed in 1989 (the year The Sandman began) that states that only he is allowed to kill Abel, because Abel can resurrect only when Cain kills him.
In the first appearance of the characters in Sandman, issue #2, Cain gives Abel an egg that soon hatches into another gargoyle, a small golden one. Abel is delighted and names the gargoyle "Irving", but Cain forcefully insists that the names of gargoyles must always begin with a "G." When Abel resists, Cain murders him, and after Abel revives he renames the gargoyle "Goldie", after a friend of his who "went away".
The main function of Cain and Abel throughout The Sandman is as comic relief. However, the two play significant (though not key) roles at several points in the series; it is they who take Morpheus in until his strength is restored following his 72-year-long imprisonment. In the fourth story arc, Season of Mists, Cain is sent to Hell to give a message to Lucifer because the Mark of Cain protects him. Those who would harm Cain would have the full wrath of God visited upon them. Lucifer merely finds this funny, since he is already in Hell.
Cain and Abel also aid The Corinthian with the child Daniel during The Kindly Ones, the penultimate story arc of the series. They also appear with Morpheus in The Books of Magic (vol. 1) #3.
Recently, both Cain and Abel have appeared in the new House of Mystery title. Abel appeared in the missing House of Mystery with Goldie, claiming to be on a secret mission to retrieve the various nightmares that were still in the house when it vanished. Meanwhile, Cain, under the guise of a mysterious coachman, plotted with various groups to retake the House of Mystery, which he saw as his rightful property. Eventually, Cain was able to broker a deal to become the co-manager of the House of Mystery's current incarnation as a bar, and both he and Abel have become regular members of the series' cast.
In other media
- Abel appeared in the tv series of Lucifer in the episode "Infernal Guinea Pig", portrayed by Lauren Lapkus.
- Cain and Abel also have a one-page cameo in The Batman Adventures #5 as wardens of Arkham, although this may be a hallucination of Dr. Crane.
- Cain and Abel appears in All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12 based on the TV show.
- Abel appears in the Audible adaptation of The Sandman, portraid by Kerry Shale.