May 23, 2024

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #254: Pariah

This guy shows up when bad things are going down. I'm not sure he helps any, but he shows up!

The Arrowverse last week put out the first three of its five part Crisis on Infinite Earths saga.  In honor of that, and before we get the final two parts in January, let’s take a look at one of the original mini-series most iconic characters, the doomseer Pariah.

I don’t think he actually does anything in the grand scheme of things.

Now, to be fair, I have in the past written up heroes who may not have been heroes in that they could have been seen more as supporting characters.  I’m thinking someone like Queen Divine Justice.  But Pariah has, like, a code name and everything.  But, for the life of me, I can’t think of much of anything Pariah brought to the table in the original Crisis.

And, quite frankly, he doesn’t pop up much outside of the original Crisis.

So, let’s look at the Crisis.

Pariah started off as Kell Mossa, a brilliant scientist who tired to see the creation of the universe.  Such actions alerted the Anti-Monitor to his planet’s existence, so said Anti-Monitor destroyed it with a wave of antimatter.  Mossa himself was saved by the intervention of the Monitor, but with a catch.

See, now that the Anti-Monitor knew there was a multiverse, he set out to destroy every reality.  And despite the fact there was an infinite number of realities, someone somewhere didn’t know what “infinite” meant and he managed to whittle all of creation down to just five Earths/universes before the heroes of those five Earths managed to band together and defeat him, leaving only a single Earth with a combined history of all five previous Earths behind.

Now, Marv Wolfman and George Perez did create a few characters whose purpose it was to more or less explain everything that was happening to the others, so was Pariah an integral part in keeping everyone on the same page?  Well, not really.  Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 did a better job of that, as did the Monitor himself before the character was killed off.  Was he a great leader who kept everyone rallied to the same cause?  This is DC; they didn’t need that sort of thing, and if they did, they had a Superman or two to fulfill that role.  Was he out looking for vengeance?  Nah.  That was Lady Quark’s deal.  Was he a longtime associate of the Monitor?  Again, that was Harbinger’s deal.  Did he save a lot of lives?  Not really.  He saved the aforementioned Lady Quark before her Earth was destroyed and that was about it.  What could he do?

Well, he’d appear on doomed Earths just before they were destroyed to cry and issue warnings of an impending tragedy that no one could stop.  And just as each universe was dying, he’d teleport off to the next one.  So, he had some teleportation and was maybe immortal.

That’s about it.

Oh, sure.  It was implied he could do more, but for the life of me, I can’t think of anything else he did.  Even Lady Quark’s rescue doesn’t seem to be much because she isn’t that big a mover and shaker in the story as a whole.

This is more or less the conclusion I came to when Tom Cavanaugh’s version of Pariah appeared on the TV version of Crisis.  Heck, Cavanaugh’s Pariah didn’t even cry his eyes out but just stoically said he was cursed to always witness tragedy.

Pictured: a stoic witness to tragedy.

In fact, outside of the original Crisis, Pariah doesn’t get around much.  We’ve seen him pop up when bad things are going down like when Perez did his War of the Gods series, but he was killed by a disguised Alexander Luthor just before Infinite Crisis started, was maybe resurrected later but did come back as a Black Lantern during Blackest Night.  And he may be in A.R.G.U.S. custody in current DC continuity, but really, would we miss the guy who does nothing but tell us all how doomed we are?