Stalker #1 was cover dated June-July, 1975, and featured as its hero, the Stalker, a peasant boy who wanted more out of life, but kept getting nothing. So, he made a deal with the demon lord, Dgrth, to become the ultimate warrior, able to handle any weapon…and all it cost the lad was his soul.
Stalker felt cheated by the deal, and while planning revenge on the queen who wronged him, went out to find Dgrth to reclaim his soul. The letter’s page even provided a map of the world of the Stalker.
Stalker confronted the priests of Dgrth, and freeing a slave maiden, though this didn’t turn out as planned for either side. It ended with the soulless one leaving behind his new companion, and heading out to the Burning Isle to find the passage to confront Dgrth in hell.
Eventually, Stalker got past the trials of the isle, and was ready to confront the war god, Dgrth….
…in issue #4 (December-January, 1975/1976).
Here Stalker would “Invade The Inferno” that was Dgrth’s home, and face the evil being that had taken his soul. The story changed (slightly) from straight out sword and sorcery to adding a little science fiction, and definitely established this was not on Earth (though that was relatively obvious from the first issue on…).
Sadly, the fourth issue was Stalker’s final one. At least the series maintained one writer (Paul Levitz), and one artist (Steve Ditko) and one inker (Wally Wood). The combination of Ditko (known for his angular characters and hard faced heroes) and Wood (known for softer, curved art with beautiful women) helped to make this a unique series, and an artistic treat, as well as having a gripping story. The four issues were even reprinted in the first Steve Ditko Omnibus (along with Shade the Changing Man and a little more) in 2001.
The JSA (and a few friends) barely got out of this one in All-Star Comics in May, 1999 written by James Robinson! Sadly, Stalker only appeared in the two main issues, and didn’t make the cover of either of the core issues (or the collected tradepaperback., the Justice Society Returns).
Seems four is the number of the Stalker, and may give him more luck starting his quest this time (if not a soul to enjoy his return….).