"Hell to Pay": In Hell, the Demon Beelzebub receives a visit from Nergal to view the initiation of new tortured souls into demonhood. Among those initiates is Anton Arcane. The initiation involves having
Appearing in "Hell to Pay"
- Bartle (As a spirit)
Synopsis for "Hell to Pay"
In Hell, the Demon Beelzebub receives a visit from Nergal to view the initiation of new tortured souls into demonhood. Among those initiates is Anton Arcane. The initiation involves having the tortured souls build bodies for themselves out of thousands of maggots which are infesting their decapitated heads.
In the Louisiana swamps, Arcane's niece Abby Holland has arranged a kind of grave site for her deceased father Gregori Arcane. Meanwhile, her daughter Tefé has been playing practising peek-a-boo with her father, the Swamp Thing. It is clear that the child is rather intelligent. Afterwards, Swamp Thing decides to go to the Barrier Islands to check the coastline, letting go of his body and sinking down into The Green.
Having just played peek-a-boo, Tefé is understandably confused at the sight of her father disappearing before her eyes. She looks around for where he might have gone, and Abby explains that he went into the ground. Understanding, the baby's skin suddenly unravels and her little body explodes in a mess of flesh and blood as she travels down into The Green after her father amidst her mother's cries of horror.
Swamp Thing returns to find Abby crying over the little blood-soaked skeleton of what was once her daughter. Angrily, he demands to know who did this. Through her hysterical sobs, Abby explains that Tefé somehow managed to follow him into The Green by shedding her human body. Despite his attempts to comfort her, Abby simply wants her baby back, and Swamp Thing is forced to leave in search of her, while Abby remains behind.
In Hell, Anton Arcane is the only one of five candidates who manages to create a body for himself from the maggots. He passes a final test by refusing to reveal his secret demon name. Pleased, Beelzebub places Arcane under Nergal's command.
The demons are interrupted by an emissary from the spider-like strand soldiers. The spider brings news of a flower planted by Etrigan on the outskirts of Hell. Next to the flower, they discovered a human baby. Sampling a portion of the child's soul, Beelzebub recognizes the taste of Nergal on it. Nergal explains that it must be the next Earth elemental that they have found. In exchange for the child, Beelzebub trades the four souls of the failed candidates for demonhood.
Somewhere in The Green, Swamp Thing encounters a pair of aliens harbouring a smaller alien. He recognizes the smaller alien as Bartle, a visitor from space whom he had seen killed by alligators years before. Bartle's people worship nature as a goddess, and he agrees to join Swamp Thing in the search for his daughter.
- The character of Bartle was killed by alligators in Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #32, he appears in the Spirit World in this issue.
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