Invincible thrives on parody.
From the Star Trek: New Generation crew analog to ripoffs of the Justice League, no one is safe from Robert Kirkman’s satirical hands. Most of Invincible’s references are stellar, but you can’t win every time. Kirkman failed, and he did so when he rehashed two of the most iconic detectives from comics: Hellboy and Rorschach.
It was supposed to be a blast, but it ended up being a bore. Neither too complex for a serious character nor funny enough to make a good comedy. That’s Damien Darkblood in a nutshell.
Now you might be thinking, “Is that it? Have you just ruined the article for me?”
Of course, not! You should give me more credit. A self-aware writer always tries to rewrite their mistakes, and Kirkman did that with the series portrayal of Darkblood. The demon went from a complete joke to a force to be reckoned with in a matter of 4 episodes.
Want to find out how? Get ready because this Damien Darkblood guide will make you believe in second chances.
My Bottom line up front: The same way rewrites work wonders for my articles, they change the game for fictional characters. There are many reasons Damien Darkblood failed to be compelling in the comics, but the best upgrade of the series is a sense of personality.
A genuine motivation, a fascinating background, and Clancy Brown’s captivating performance made Darkblood go from zero to hero.
A Cross Between Demon and Detective
Damien is a mystery.
No one knows why he left hell, why he became a detective, or why he cares about his work. He’s just there. Robert Kirkman adds a little bit of color to the character in The Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe, but not enough to fill in all the blanks.
The book states that the works of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler have inspired Darkblood, which is pretty much it for motivation.
That’s a nice touch, especially because detective stories are one of the most common genres – so tracing back influences on these types of tales can be challenging. Without extensive knowledge, you don’t know who inspired who and what not.
But I have deeply rooted criticism about making character information canon outside of the work. If it’s that important, the author should have put it inside the book.
The only exception to this rule is the several instances in which creators couldn’t add more LGBTQIA+ representativity due to network or publisher restrictions.
That’s not the case here, so throwing two detective genre authors without much explanation is underwhelming. Especially when more intriguing things clearly impacted Darkblood’s creation, like the greatest Demon Detective of all: Hellboy.
You know what they say: when you copy from one source, it’s stealing, but when you copy from many, it’s inspiration. Let’s be fair –Damien is influenced by many characters; he’s not a total Hellboy copycat.
Their personalities are radically different. But with so many influences, only one other is as obvious as the red demon detective: Rorschach. From appearance to nature, these two characters dictate how Damien acts. So let’s understand each one to have a clearer picture.
Hellboy was created by Mike Mignola in 1993 – he first appeared in issue 4 of the Italian book Dime Press. His American debut came in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 from the same year.
Hellboy was born from the demon Azzael and the witch Sarah Hughes. During World War II, Nazi occultists summoned a baby Hellboy, but the little devil showed up in the ruins of an old church in front of an Allied Forces team.
Among the group was Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, who later started the U.S. Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
Bruttenholm took pity on the little demon and raised him as an ordinary boy. In time, Hellboy grew, and his body changed, but his mind remained almost the same. The monster looked like a full-grown middle-aged man but still had a teenager’s rebellious fire and attitude.
As the years passed, Hellboy built an extensive knowledge of supernatural things like possession, haunting, exorcism, enchantments, holy amulets, and sacred artifacts. That prompted him to join his adoptive father’s group, the B.P.R.D. as a full-fledged field agent.
If you’re a comic book fan, there’s a ninety percent chance you’ve heard about Watchmen. One of the most celebrated graphic novels of all time, it tells the story of cynical superheroes in an alternate version of the 80s, where the cold war burned hot with physical conflicts.
At the center of it all stands Walter Joseph Kovacs — aka Rorschach – an anti-hero created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons as an analog to Steve Ditko’s Question.
Kovacs is a ruthless vigilante who grew up in an abusive household until migrating to state care at the Charlton Home. The anti-hero is very conservative and possesses a strict moral code that makes him stand out from the rest of society, even among superheroes.
This description might paint him as honorable, but that’s not always true. Rorschach’s views on right and wrong are starkly black and white, with no room for compromise. He has no empathy, which makes his adherence to a moral code come off as cruel and indifferent several times.
What exactly does Damien Darkblood take from each of his inspirations?
Like Hellboy, Damien is taciturn but lacks his counterpart’s sense of humor. Darkblood is similar to Rorschach in his black-and-white view of the world and obsession with finding the truth. Still, he’s not as conservative as the Watchmen anti-hero.
Apart from these main characteristics, the story diverges depending on the version. In the comics, Damien is a lousy detective. He’s gullible and unsuspicious of the probable criminals. Plus, he’s old-fashioned and relies on obsolete methods of investigation that end up stifling his work.
The series is another story altogether: Darkblood is a good detective, capable of confronting stronger enemies to get what he wants. Depending on your beliefs, this last note may be seen as courage or stupidity.
But even if it’s stupidity, I prefer that over the gullible version who didn’t even suspect something was wrong with Nolan Grayson.
Damien is a red-skinned demon, although the extent of it varies in each version. In the comics, his skin is white with a red area on the face, while his complexion is entirely red in the tv series. In both versions, he has pointy teeth, but only in the series does he have pointed ears.
Darkblood is 6 foot tall and weighs 230 lbs. His eyes are completely white in the comics but orange with white pupils in the show. In both versions, he wears a beige trenchcoat and a light brown fedora hat, reminiscent of Rorschach and many other detectives.
Powers and Abilities
Darkblood can lift at least one ton. It’s unknown if he can possess humans, despite the widespread belief about demons. But the detective has other valuable skills.
Due to his time in hell, the demon has extensive knowledge of occult magic and can survive the harshest environments. The detective is nearly impervious to physical damage and immune to heat and fire.
Damien is immortal and possesses enhanced senses, speed, and agility. The handbook states he has an intuitive understanding of suspects. Still, the comic does a laughable job of showing it – the demon doesn’t even doubt Omni-man.
But the show gives him a level-up on this ability. In the series, he can gather impressions on crime by touching on evidence. Plus, he can teleport, which makes disappearing from a crime scene unnoticed relatively easy.
However, Darkblood is vulnerable to supernatural sources and iron. Kind of random that a simple bar of iron can be Damien’s kryptonite. That should make things easy for his enemies. Still, there are more conventional caveats of being an infernal creature.
Like any other demon, the detective can’t cross boundaries. He has the strength to break a closed door, but he can’t cross it since this is a barrier. Someone must open the door for him or invite him inside to pass.
In the comics, they have a neutral professional relationship. Although Cecil defies Darkblood by putting other detectives on the case, it doesn’t get more hostile than that. In the series, however, they clash directly, and Cecil’s responsible for Darkblood’s demise.
Debbie and Damien’s relationship is nonexistent in the comics, but the series makes it a central part of the woman’s character arc. Darkblood interrogates Nolan’s wife to get more information and intimidate his suspect. Although she’s wary of the demon, the interrogation makes Debbie question her husband’s actions.
Nolan Grayson, aka Omni-man
Omni-Man and Damien are amicable in the comics. Although Darkblood interrogates Nolan, it seems more like a standard procedure than distrust. But the series makes them mortal enemies.
The demon knows the Viltrumite killed the Guardians and harasses him every step of the way, threatening to expose the truth. Omni-Man responds with equal force, igniting a cat-and-mouse game between the two.
Damien Darkblood first appears interrogating Nolan about the Guardians’ murders. It’s issue 8, and we’ve already discovered Omni Man killed everyone – yet there’s no tension in their talk. No conflict, no suspense whatsoever. It’s pretty disappointing.
Damien is amicable enough to Omni-man and doesn’t distrust him. Instead, he suspects Black Samson, and Nolan does a good job of taking suspicion away from himself.
The Viltrumite doesn’t outright accuse Black Samson, saying he’s not strong enough to defeat the whole team. Nolan doesn’t want to seem too eager to find a suspect. No, he plays the long game.
When the funeral comes, Damien interrogates more people. His partner points to Black Samson as the prime suspect, but Darkblood disagrees. The demon detective checked him out, and it was apparent Samson didn’t leave the house in weeks.
According to Damien:
He didn’t even know they had died until I told him. His grief was real… I’ve ruled him out. We currently have no real suspects. I’m focusing on villains at the moment … they had many.”
While the fact that Damien can know if a person is sincere is impressive, the rest of the quote just shows how dumb he is. It’s vague and doesn’t add anything. The guy is clueless. Way to go, detective! But Darkblood is persistent. I’ll give him that.
The demon returns to the crime scene to resume the examination, but other investigators are already there. The rival detective says Damien’s work is taking too long, and that’s why Cecil brought in new people. But Darkblood threatens her and keeps working.
That’s when something interesting happens, as he hints at a troubled past:
There was a time when I would have eaten your face for speaking to me that way. Be thankful that I’ve changed my ways.”
Now I was curious. Too bad I’m never going to find out more about it.
Damien disappears for a few issues, presumably due to the investigation. Six issues later, he cracked the code. It doesn’t seem like too much time, but it was…
The demon arrives confident at Global defense H.Q. asking to see Cecil. He’s sure the director will want to talk to him. Darkblood tells the boss’s secretary he’s close to discovering who killed the Guardians.
Then she laughs.
Huh? Everyone knows Omni-man did it. That’s over and done with. You haven’t been watching the news much, have you?”
Turns out it’s been weeks since every significant news corporation has broadcasted Omni-Man’s fall to the whole planet.
Darkblood answers with a: “Hurm.” At this point, he’s just as articulated as Netflix’s version of Geralt of Rivia. But while the silver-haired witcher has his charms, Damien is just an unfunny joke. This has to be one of the most anticlimactic endings for a character I’ve ever seen.
We see a few cameos from Dark Blood after that, but nothing of much substance. My favorite happens on Guarding the Globe Vol.1 # 5. Black Samson tries to recruit Damien for the team, but he answers with another “Hurm.”
Damien Darkblood appears a few more times in the Astounding Wolf-Man spin-off before he disappears entirely from the readers’ minds. Gary, the title character, was framed for the murder of his wife and went AWOL.
His daughter, Chloe, hires Darkblood on issue 9 to find him. This time, he does a good job and finds him. Quickly. Not weeks after the media found him. Sorry… I couldn’t resist.
Then Damien reappears in a small arc on issues 23 and 24. These appearances give us insights into Darkblood’s personality and a plot hole. Yes, a plot hole. Just wait for it.
A police officer greets Dark Blood by addressing him as the “Demon Detective,” to which he very bluntly responds: “You know I hate being called that. Is that any way to repay me for meeting you at this ungodly hour?”
This is the insight. Again he says something random, and we have no idea why. It’s just forgettable information. But what about the plothole?
The police officer needs Damien’s help to find a monster who stole a piece of Stonehenge. This monster went underwater, and all the divers who tried to rescue the part went missing. So the officer wants Darkblood to cast a protection spell to make people invulnerable, but the demon says that’s not how this works.
You watch too much TV. I resist heat… other than that, I’m only slightly stronger than the average human.”
If you have a good memory, you might remember I told you earlier – in the powers and abilities sections – that Darkblood can lift at least a ton. Was I lying? No human can lift close to that. Well, of course, I wasn’t lying! And I’m hurt you even thought that.
I got the first information from The Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe and kept it as the truth. After all, this is the official handbook, not a random quote from a spin-off. Still, it’s a plot hole. No excuse for that.
Returning to the story, Damien tells the officer he’s an excellent detective and will use his abilities to discover what’s happening. He is once again victorious.
The demon realized there was a creature deep in the waters called Gorgg that would resurface at any moment. Just as the demon updated the heroes of Capes Incorporated on the situation, the creature emerged, ready to fight.
That was goodbye for Damien in the comics.
Damien’s first scenes show the command over his powers. He arrives at the crime scene hidden by magic while The Global Defense Agency investigates the murders. Once Cecil confronts him, Darkblood reveals himself. The demon touched the scene’s blood to activate his powers and get information about the crime.
A while after, Damien tells Cecil the only ones present at the scene are the Guardians and Omni-man – the killer is among them. The Global Defense Agency director replies many villains don’t leave a trace.
Damien knows this, but he’s sure of his stance. Yet Cecil threatens Darkblood, saying that if the demon mentions this to anyone else, it’ll be the end of him.
The demon next appears at the Guardians’ funeral, which is much more interesting than in the comics. Damien confronts Omni-man, and Nolan asks what he wants. Darkblood says they want the same thing: to catch the killer.
The Viltrumite says Damien wants to buy himself a few more years out of hell. This is the first time there’s a hint of motivation to the demon’s background – and it makes all the difference. This allows the viewer to question Darkblood’s motive and gives more depth to the conflict.
Omni Man says he already told Cecil everything he knew about the crime, but Damien has none of it. So Omni-Man asks if the demon’s insinuating something.
But Darkblood says he didn’t mean to offend and that the nuance of human conversation is complicated for him. Which, of course, is just a lame excuse. You gotta love this version of the character: he’s just so cynical, ironic, and persistent.
Damien goes to Nolan’s house and talks to his enemy’s wife. He confronts her, but she doesn’t know anything. Yet, this dialogue gives us another layer to Darkblood’s motivations. When Debbie asks why he cares about the case, the demon replies:
Escape from hell, seek justice for others to save own soul.”
I had mentioned it yet, but the series has Darkblood speaking in broken sentences, just like Rorschach. It’s a nice touch that correlates the characters.
After this conversation, Nolan confronts Damien in the demon’s office. Nolan’s furious and threatens to blame the crime on Darkblood. After all, who would people believe? A fabled hero or a taciturn demon? That’s proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Still, Omni Man has a point, but the detective doesn’t shy away.
Darkblood says he won’t give up and that Nolan can’t hide the truth. His wife already suspects something is up. How long until his son does the same? Good arguments render people speechless, so I guess that’s why Omni-Man stormed out of the office with an angry remark:
Go fuck yourself, Darkblood.”
You can’t expect manners from a murderer.
Darkblood keeps investigating Nolan’s house, and that’s the end of him. Cecil arrives with GDA’s forces to take him down, saying Nolan warned them about Damien. Omni-man planted the guardians’ blood in the demon’s office. The director knows the truth, but that’s a convenient excuse to keep the detective out of his way.
Cecil traps the demon in a salt circle. That’s supernatural 101 for you: Demons can’t escape salt barriers. But Darkblood isn’t afraid because he destroyed the book with words to exorcize him centuries ago. But the director had a card up his sleeve: he used A.I. to reconstruct the book.
Donald – Cecil’s right hand – reads the words and banishes Damien to hell. Cecil knew Nolan was the killer, but he needed to keep him at bay to find out more. Damien was just collateral.
Awesome or Lame?
Damien Darkblood’s status depends on the version we’re talking about. In the comics, he’s lame. No doubt about it. The demon does a terrible job as a detective and appears in Astounding Wolf-Man just to give us a plot hole.
The series is a level-up. Not only is this version of Damien capable and integral to the plot, but he has a background. The show hints at his motivation and leaves a cliffhanger that could bring exciting stuff in the future. Besides, Darkblood interacts with more people in the series, giving him more depth.
So, he’s lame in the comics but a total badass in the series.
And the Award of Best Quote goes to…
Say, I’d see you in hell, but there’s worse place waiting for you.”
Invincible episode 4
Those are Damien’s last words, and they are remarkable. Even if he never returns from banishment, that’s a better ending than the comic one. I love this quote because it’s a big fuck you to Cecil.
Darkblood has lived for thousands of years and knows no evil deed goes unpunished. Cecil may have gotten the upper hand this time, but what goes around comes around.
Question: How Powerful is Damien Darkblood?
Answer: Damien Darkblood is very powerful. He’s invulnerable to fire and harsh environments, can lift at least a ton, and possesses extensive knowledge of the occult arts. I wouldn’t want to mess with him unless I was like Omni-Man. Then I could have a chance.
Question: Who Voices Damien Darkblood?
Answer: Clancy Brown plays Damien Darkblood. The actor is known for his deep voice, which he often uses in villainous roles.
Question: Will Damien Darkblood Return?
Answer: With season two on the horizon for 2023, Damien may return. But we don’t know. There’s no official declaration, but given his expanded role compared to the comics, it’s plausible to have him return to the show. We’ll have to wait and see.
Sympathy for the Devil
Damien Darkblood proved second chances can be a good thing. From incompetent detective to stellar anti-hero, he shows sometimes all you need is a reboot. This is true for other comic characters, like Black Panther’s Nakia.