|First appearance||Stalker #1, (June/July 1975)|
|Created by||Paul Levitz (writer)|
Steve Ditko (artist)
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, senses and speed, various mystical abilities, expert fencer|
Stalker is a fictional antihero and swords and sorcery character published by DC Comics. The character, created by Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko, debuted in Stalker #1 (June/July 1975). The art in all four issues of Stalker was handled by the team of Ditko (pencils) and Wally Wood (inks).
The Stalker title lasted four issues, to Dec. 1975/Jan. 1976 before it was cancelled by DC.
A young warrior seeking immortality and power challenges and defeats the Demon Lord Dgrth, winning immortality but losing his soul. The young warrior now known as Stalker the Soulless begins a quest to regain his lost soul. However, the more he traveled the greater his power grew, and the more he physically resembled Dgrth. Stalker eventually fights his way to the demon god in the depths of that dimension's netherworld, and defeats him, only to discover that the deity has already used up the energies of the traded soul. The only way to get his soul back would be to end the existence of that dimension's supreme deity, a solution which could only occur after the abolishment of all war.
Stalker the Souless later appeared in Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #163, arriving on Earth alongside Claw the Unconquered, Isis, Arion and Starfire. This storyline suggested that all DC "heroic fantasy" worlds were creations of Jim Rook (Nightmaster)'s mind, but this has been contradicted since.[volume & issue needed]
Stalker appeared in All-Star Comics (vol. 2) #1, and as a recurring theme in a retroactive story featuring the Justice Society of America at the end of World War II, the so-called "JSA Returns" event. Here, the soulless Stalker had evolved into an insane demon/supervillain, looking a lot like Dgrth, and bent on destroying dimension after dimension in his quest to end all conflict by ending all life. He was defeated and seemingly destroyed in a time warp generated by the Hourman android.[volume & issue needed]
Main article: Ends of the Earth (DC Comics)
Stalker reappears in present-day in Wonder Woman vol. 3 #20, again alive, younger, more human and reminiscent of his original self – possibly this is the same Stalker, somehow plucked from a point earlier in his life/personal timeline than the Stalker appearing in the above-mentioned JSA event. Here, he requests that Wonder Woman kill a demon from his dimension named D'Grth. To these ends he encourages her to recruit Beowulf Prince of Geats, and Claw the Unconquered. During this adventure Wonder Woman gives Stalker the proper name of Elpis, which means "hope" in Themyscirian. When D'Grth and Grendal eventually appear, Stalker reveals that he deceived the trio of warriors as a means of gaining his soul back at the bidding of D'Grth. He then throws his sword at Diana but Beowulf jumps in its way at the last second. Claw sees to Beowulf's wounds while Wonder Woman confronts Stalker. She tells him that Elpis is a female name. She then manages to steal the Rock of Destiny from Stalker and uses it to transport herself and D'Grth to Earth, leaving Stalker in his own world with an aspect of a soul. It is discovered that the soul Stalker possesses is in truth Diana's soul, which slowly began leaving her body shortly after her and Stalker's first meeting. Stalker, though reluctant, agreed to return Diana's soul to her and joined in the final destruction of D'Grth. He then leaves with an oracle as a companion.[volume & issue needed]
In DC's 2011 relaunch of its continuity, The New 52, Stalker (by Marc Andreyko and Andrei Bressan) is now reintroduced to The New 52 universe as a back-up feature in Sword of Sorcery.
The Batman Beyond version of Stalker appears in DC Rebirth Batman Beyond.
Reference was made to Stalker in the alternate reality created by Brother Grimm and Mirror Master where the Speed Force never existed, Captain Cold telling the Flash that he read a book about this world's history that explained that the Stalker had killed Mr. Terrific without Jay Garrick there to help the fight, causing such damage to American morale that the JSA helped to deploy a bomb that annihilated Germany before retiring in disgust at themselves.[volume & issue needed]
A futuristic, African version of Stalker appears in media set within the DC Animated Universe, voiced by Carl Lumbly. A former big game hunter and poacher, he underwent an experimental surgery to restore his back following an attack by a wounded black panther he was hunting and gained enhanced dexterity, strength, senses, and reflexes.
This sword and sorcery title by scripter Paul Levitz and artist Steve Ditko epitomized the credo 'Be careful what you wish for'. The series anti-hero was a nameless wanderer whose dreams of becoming a warrior brought him first slavery, then worse.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)