Synopsis for “The Haunting of Christiansboro!”
The Gargoyle has spent the past few weeks roaming the streets of New York in disguise. As he wanders the streets one rainy night he is accosted by a pair of muggers who are frightened away when they reveal the Gargoyle’s grim visage. Fleeing the man-monster they are stopped and magically sent off to the police by Clea who has been tracking Gargoyle down with Devil-Slayer since his disappearance. When they learn that he left because he sees himself as nothing more than a monster, Clea reaffirms to him that not only is he a fellow Defender, but he is also a friend.
While in New Jersey, Hellcat and Valkyrie search the ruins of Patsy’s house. As they search Patsy confides in Val her current lot in life and wonders if she is truly the daughter of Satan. They come across her old Shadow Cloak, and as she picks it up, a young boy suddenly comes through it, running away and screaming for help. Realizing that the Shadow Cloak is not an item to deal with lightly Patricia decides she is better off without it and folds it into itself teleporting it away to points unknown. They are then summon mystically by Clea to return to Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, a call they answer at once. While in Washington D.C., Kyle Richmond, his lawyer and Matt Murdock are listening to the final decision of the Justice Department regarding his charges of tax evasion and other corporate crimes when he is contacted by Clea. He sends her away, and soon learns that his company has been cleared of any wrong doing and only needs to pay back taxes of $767,000.00. With his legal troubles over, Kyle is wheeled out of by his nurse Luann and they run into August Masters, who tells Richmond that he had a hand in clearing up his legal troubles. Kyle furious about Master’s manipulations of his ex-girlfriend Mindy Williams and the cover-up he created when Kyle tried to expose his involvement tells him off, Masters warns him to keep his mouth shut.
While at Dr. Strange’s Sanctum, the other Defenders listen to the troubles of their friend the Gargoyle: He explains that his family founded the town of Christiansboro years ago and it became a thriving community until recent times. Loving his town so much that he would do anything to save it, Isaac delved into the occult and made a deal with the Six-Fingered Hand, leading to his transformation into the Gargoyle — something that would was supposed to be temporary until after he did their bidding, however naturally he betrayed the Six-Fingered Hand to the Defenders and has since been trapped in his Gargoyle form. Since then he has been worried about the fate of Christiansboro. Listening to their depressed friend tell his tale, Valkyrie suggests that they travel to Christiansboro and investigate what is happening there and see what they can do. With everyone in agreeance, they teleport away in Devil-Slayer’s Shadow Cloak. Just after they leave there is a knock at the door, answering it Wong finds the Avenger known as the Beast there asking if he can see Dr. Strange. When Wong informs him that the Doctor is not in, he tells the man-servant that he can wait.
The Defenders meanwhile appear in Christainsboro to find the town completely deserted. Unaware of what has happened, they decide to split up into groups and try to find clues as to where the townspeople had gone. Going solo, Hellcat comes across a young man named Simple Joe. Joe tells her that following the Gargoyle’s departure from Christiansboro, the town was attacked nightly by strange ghosts that forced pretty much everyone in town but him to flee. Suddenly, Hellcat and Simple Joe are surrounded by a swirling fog and they are swallowed up in darkness.
The Gargoyle meanwhile has travelled to his own family home where he is shocked to see the spirit of his brother, Jeremiah, who died as a young boy. Jeremiah had fallen off the roof and died as a child and he blames Isaac’s lack of supervision to that tragic accident before jumping off the roof again and disappearing in the mist. Elsewhere in town, Clea and Valkyrie walk the streets and come across a stray cat. The cat is friendly at first but then is suddenly attacks Valkyrie, and they are then swarmed by the hands of spirits that come crashing out of storefront windows and they too are swallowed up in darkness. As this is happening the Gargoyle enters his home where he is visited by his mother. His mother comforts him and recounts how after World War I, Isaac had travelled the world learning all sorts of occult secrets until her death. The encounter and his mothers sudden departure fills Isaac with eternal grief. The Devil-Slayer has wandered into the Christiansboro cemetary where he comes across the little girl. This little girl turns out to be a trap of the angry force that resides in the area and Devil-Slayer like his comrades before him is swallowed up in the darkness as well.
The Defenders awaken shortly after and find themselves in front of the force behind the haunting in Christiansboro: A creature called Null, the Living Darkness. Null explains to them that he was part of the S’raphh race, angel like creatures that ruled over Earth centuries before humanity first walked. An enlightened race they soon took for the stars to seek ultimate truth. There were cast from the heavens and died, however they would form into Null the Living Darkness. Free once more, the creature then attempts to destroy the Defenders.
While back at the Christians family home, the Gargoyle in utter despair attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself, but finds his new form makes it impossible for him to do so. The spirits of his parents and brother appear to him and chastise him for being a failure before forcing him to flee from the home. Gargoyle comes across Null the Living Darkness and his zombie hordes fighting his comrades. Using his life-force absorbing powers the Gargoyle manages to incapacitate the reanimated corpses before attacking Null itself. Finding an outward attack ineffective, the Gargoyle flies into the creatures immaterial mass and unleashes the full extent of his powers, seemingly destroying the creature. The victory comes at a price as the Gargoyle is mortally wounded. However before he can die, the spirits of his family — now free from Nulls control — appear before him and tell him that he will live to defend the world still. Their spirits then enter his body reviving him. When Clea approaches him and asks him how he feels, he tells her that he has never felt so great in all his 78 years.
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