"I know what you mean about your life, Johnny. I know you've made your share of mistakes... You're not perfect. You usually end up covered in blood with the shit kicked out of you, pissed off at all the bastards with the power that you just can't touch... The Pogues wrote a song that could've been about you. You're the rake at the gates of Hell." - Lord of the Dance, Hellblazer #63
The family history and childhood years of John Harkin in New York City.
Colm Harkin travels to America from Ireland, bringing his wife Siobhan, and three children: Aidan, Patrick, and Molly. Patrick grows sick on the journey across the Atlantic and dies before the family makes it to America. The others struggle to build a new life. Colm finds work on the docks, while Siobhan works as a barmaid.
Aidan, the eldest of the Harkin kids, joins the Roach Guards, a gang of Irish immigrants.
Molly Harkin meets a beautiful, mysterious man who promises to change her life. Over the course of a weekend fling, he impregnates her and vanishes from her life.
Johnathan Francis Harkin is born, but Molly dies in labor. Reformer authorities refuse to believe that the child can be cared for properly by the surviving members of the poor Irish family, so Johnathan is taken from them to be raised in Hell Gate Reformatory
Colm Harkin dies three days after a taking a beating from members of the Bowery Boys where they robbed him of his wages. Aidan responds by leading several members of the Roach Guards in retaliation.
The issues following Colm Harkin's death merge with several other conflicts in the area as the Bowery Boys face off against the Roach Guard, Dead Rabbits, and Mulberry Boys in a gang war that became the subject of legend and song.
John is savagely beaten by older kids in Hell Gate. It's not the first beating, but by far the worst he's yet received. He begins toughening up and looking for ways to get out.
Sneaking onto a supply boat, John Harkin escapes Hell Gate Reformatory, returning to the the Five Points to find a life with his family. He tags along with his uncle and members of the Roach Guards.
John is at his grandmother's bedside as she passes, grateful that he got to have a connection with her before she died.
Her stories were his primary link to his mother.
Harkin joins the Roach Guards officially, and is baptized in blood in a battle with neighboring gang the Slaughter Housers. The melee carries on for hours in Paradise Square. John fights with a brickbat.
During the Draft Riots, John gets swept up in the looting and destruction along with many other Irish rioters. Somebody sets fire to a black orphanage, and John is finally broken from the reverie of the riot by the sounds of screaming children inside the blaze. He breaks from the pack and charges into the burning building, trying to reach the kids. A support beam collapses, separating John from the children, as smoke and fire fills the room. The smoke fills his lungs, and the flames rise around him. Something about it calls to him. For a moment, as his consciousness fades, it feels like... home.
He's pulled from the building by some of his friends, who chastise him for risking his life to help "Blackies". The children are burned alive. Nightmares of their screams will haunt John for the next several years.
John's early exploration of his heritage of a member of the Lucifuge and his adoption of the Vigil.
The night before his birthday, John is kidnapped by "family members" he has never met, who whisk him away to Milan.
There he undergoes rigorous training and tests. Is forced to study. While extremely strict, this does give him the kind of education he never would have received in Hell Gate or on the streets of New York.
Demon incident. Training increases in severity.
The Becoming. John is brought before Lady Lucifuge, who explains the truth of his parentage: His father is Lucifer, First of the Fallen.
After further training in the rituals of Castigation and the ways of the Vigil, John participates in his first hunt.
John returns to America for the first time in over a decade, to be with his uncle Aidan as he dies a slow death of consumption. He finds the Roach Guards have fallen apart in the intervening years, having either joined the Dead Rabbits or been lost in the Civil War.
John takes up the Vigil in New York City, with a special focus on protecting the hordes of Irish immigrants from those monsters that would prey on them. He pulls a couple of members of the Dead Rabbits into his first cell, to provide the muscle.
William "Boss" Tweed, kingpin of the Tammany Hall political machine and patron saint of graft, dies in the Ludlow Street Jail. Tweed has outlived so many enemies in recent decades that ghosts are practically lined up around the block to take a shot at him.
Harkin makes a deal with with several ghosts to bring their anchors to locations Tweed is expected to have ties to. When they find him, Harkin lets nature take its course.
John follows the lead of a case to New Orleans, where he first meets L'amant de Roux. Her curiosity piqued, she trails him back to New York a few months later.
Harkin's services, along with those of several bounty hunters, are engaged by a prominent New York financier to track and (if need be) rescue his daughter, whom he believed had become involved in some kind of cult in the South.
The posse spent months on her trail, discovering that she had become a mortal member of a nomadic, pagan blood cult surrounding a solitary vampire. They managed to eventually steal the girl away, but couldn't break the vampire's spell over her mind. Conflict with the vampire ensued and the posse eventually managed to defeat the monster with Harkin's guidance. They returned the girl to her father in New York, but she was never coming back from the mental damage she sustained as the vampire's plaything.
Shaken by their first encounter with the hidden world, the bounty hunters wanted to learn more. Harkin brought them into the Vigil, and the group road together as a wandering cell for a few years, discovering and fighting monsters in the South and on the Western frontier. They supported themselves collecting bounties along the way. Their adventures brought them into conflict with more than just supernatural threats, and included a gruesome battle with the Ku Klux Klan.
After four hard-fought years, the surviving members of the cell went their separate ways, and John Harkin returned to New York City.
Harkin attends early meeting of Golden Dawn, writes them off as idiots for following Macgregor Mathers.
(possible Ashwood Abby connection with ancestors of a PC?)
A heat wave brutalizes the city, with temperatures exceeding 90°F for nine days both day and night, with stagnant air and oppressive humidity. In all, 420 people die, mostly in crowded tenements in areas such as the Lower East Side.
Several of those who died were the herd of a local gang of vampires. It turns out heat stroke and considerable blood loss don't play well together. There is an uptick in violent feeding in the weeks to come as they try to find new regular sources of blood. Harkin and his cell attempt to hunt the vampire gang, but come up empty.
Initial Council Meeting in Boston. John passes on the invitation.
General Slocum disaster. 1,021 died in East River steamboat tragedy, most of them German residents of the Lower East Side. John spends months dealing with the ghostly mess left in their wake.
John winds up in a rivalry with a Lithuanian Jewish gangster from the Lower East Side named Lev Reznik. Reznik is a dope pusher working for the vampire gang Harkin has been trying to pin down for years.
When the situation comes to violence, Harkin and his boys beat Reznik and force him to give up information on his vampire bosses. Two nights later, the vampires kill Reznik.
Reznik's younger sister, Ellie, turns to prostitution without her brother's money to keep their family housed. Harkin feels the weight of responsibility for Lev's death and helps Ellie get off the street corner. He covers her family's rent for a little bit and eventually gets a friend of a friend to give her a break as a seamstress, by exaggerating her skill.
Harkin sees a lot of his family's struggles in Ellie's efforts to support her own, and grows fond of her. The two briefly become flirtatious friends, with the possibility of more in the offing. But her aged father disapproves, so she tells John she can't see him. He eventually loses track of her, refocusing on the vampire gang.
Occult conjunction occurs with Halley's comet visit. Conflict with spirit badness. John gets his ass kicked, but manages to close the door on bad things with the help of his cell.
145 employees, mostly women, are killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire near Washington Square Park, some by being forced to jump from the building by the fire.
Among the dead is Ellie Reznik. Harkin is devastated.
Titanic sinks. Influx of ghosts into New York City.
Bloody showdown with the gang of vampires Harkin has been pursuing for years. Two of the four members of the gang are killed, but Harkin is the sole survivor of his hunter cell.
Knowing that the surviving vampires know he's still out there, Harkin begins to look at alternate tactics to ensure that they die before he does. He studies a new Castigation ritual. He goes to ground.
Harkin becomes the hunted, as the predators seek him out. The only thing that rivals his panicked need to survive is his desire to see the vampires pay for killing his friends. Maybe that way he could stop blaming himself for their ends.
Harkin summons and makes a deal with a powerful Blood Spirit. When they come for Harkin, the spirit will steal the blood from their bodies, rendering them weak. In return, Harkin will make an offering of his own blood to the spirit once a year for the next twenty years.
The vampires are lured into Harkin's trap, and the spirit is as good as its word. It syphons their blood, making them weak, but frenzied. The blood continues to fountain from their bodies into the ether as they charge towards Harkin.
The Lucifuge calls forth in the Dragon's Tongue and enacts his newest trick. His body warps into the towering, winged shape of an elder demon, as he borrows the form and power of his unholy father. The battle form doesn't last very long, but the vampires have lost too much blood to be much of a fight. The demon tears into them, matching their savagery with his own. When the fight ends there is only Harkin and scattered ashes.
Recovering artifact during WW1. Bad things ensue.
John gets outrageously drunk at a party in the West Village. The bathroom line is too long, so he ducks into the garden to relieve himself. As he does so, somebody approaches him to ask a question. John turns, and pisses on Aleister Crowley's shoes. As "the Great Beast" scowled and fumed, John laughed and laughed.
Wall Street Bombing. John helped ghosts resolve their issues in the wake of the anarchist explosion on Wall St.
Harkin's 20 year bargain with the Blood spirit comes to an end with his last offering.
Hindenburg Disaster. Giant spiritual mess in New Jersey.
John becomes involved with a woman named Marion and lets things start getting serious. However, before things can go too far, he receives special orders from Milan.
John journeys to France, joining a temporary cell of Lucifuge members working with the French Resistance. Several of Les Enfants Diabolique have insinuated themselves into the Vichy
government and are attempting to involve demonic powers in the war.
Despite the difficulty of hunting Les Enfants while hiding from German forces, John manages to periodically get letters out to Marion back home. She becomes a reason to survive even the
The Lucifuge cell working with the Resistance is joined by a special US Army detachment. Les Enfants Diabolique are attempting a mass demon summoning, to create a platoon of Possessed soldiers. The mission to take them down is dubbed Operation Deus Volt by the Americans.
It is a pitched battle, with gunfire, sorcery, and Castigation. But the Allies emerge victorious, removing a major obstacle to D-Day.
John returns stateside after D-Day. With the Les Enfants threat contained, and numerous demons banished, the cell disbands and returns to their regular outposts. After the horrors of what he witnessed at war, John tries to settle down and put the Vigil on the back burner for a while. He marries Marion.
Aidan Peter Harkin, named for John's uncle, was born, but almost immediately something seemed off about the child. John soon discovered that his infant child was possessed by a demon he had previously crossed.
John attempted to exorcise the beast. The tug of war between Harkin and the demon proved too powerful for the child, and Aidan died from the strain.
Marion couldn't ever look at John the same after losing their child to the occult world he inhabits. She left him shortly after, filing for divorce.
Following the death of his child and loss of his marriage, John falls hard. He struggles to rise up several times in these years, but is in a bad way.
John is one of several occultists present for Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard's "Babalon Working" rituals in Los Angeles, attempting to make sure that the pair didn't call up anything they couldn't put down (also to pick up some rebound tail after the trainwreck of his marriage, as Parsons had a gigantic sex magic racket going). In the process, John had to quietly smack down a spirit.
What he didn't realize was that one of the young men in Parsons' social circle witnessed John calling upon the powers of his Castigation, and an obsession was born.
Towards the end of the Babalon Working rituals and associated parties, the succubus re-enters John Harkin's life. At a low point, he is much more receptive to her company than he would otherwise be.
John takes up residence at the Hotel Chelsea. Amid the writers, musicians, artists and drug addicts, an eccentric occultist who ages very slowly just becomes part of the patchwork. John gets into a rent stabilized unit and holds on to it for dear life. It is his primary New York residence for decades to come.
Two women are murdered in California by The Shining Darkness, a cult of amateur Satanists that worship John as some kind of Luciferian messiah. John dedicates himself to taking the cult town, working with local Hunters that are wary of his involvement. The drug-addled leader of the cult, the once young man who saw John's power in the 1940's, had been obsessed, tracking down any bit of information on John's exploits as evidence of his power. The obsession was further focused by the meddling of a minor demon who thought that exalting John was a way to earn favor with Lucifer.
Following the resolution of the case, John returns to Milan for full debriefing. Any inquiring members of the Lucifuge are informed that the Lady cleared John of wrongdoing. Privately, however, she takes him to task not seeing this sort of thing coming sooner.
Business relationship begins between Harkin and the shifter known as Duchess.
Behind the scenes of the Rolling Stones performance at the Free Concert at Altamont, John trapped and banished a Wrath demon who was fanning the flames of confrontation between the fans and members of the Hell's Angel motorcycle club. By then, the damage was done and violence was already underway. But John sent the demon back to the Pit, preventing it doing any further damage or feasting on the chaos of its handiwork.
He was rewarded for his good work by taking a pool cue to the back of the skull in the ensuing melee.
Conflict with members of Malleus Maleficarum who found pamplets of the defunct Shining Darkness cult that believed John to be their satanic messiah figure. Resolved with a bit of a Mexican stand-off. John goes out of his way to provide unwanted assistance to MM members in the following months, to prove he's not aligned with Hell.
Riots, the Son of Sam, the Bronx burns... It's a busy year for John Harkin, and he finds relief from the Vigil in booze, pills, and his demon lover.
John wakes up at the Chelsea to the sounds of the screaming in the hallway. Coroners are removing Nancy Spungen's body from the room she shared with Sid Vicious down the hall. He looks at her lifeless body, and sees the look in Sid's eyes.
Returning to his room, he dumps his drugs in the toilet. He tells Roux that things need to be different. She tries to convince him to stay, luring him back to bed. The sex goes to a very dark place, with Harkin calling upon powers of his blood to show Roux the darkness she so craved to see in him. Following the violent sex, he gets dressed and walks out the door.
He leaves Roux and checks into a rehab center. Following rehab, he travels the globe for a while and is completely clean for a few years.
After getting his shit back together, John finds new purpose in the Council, which later becomes the Accord.
Harkin journeys to Philadelphia to visit Nancy Spungen's grave, to offer her peace and thank her for the wake up call that got him clean.
John marks his second year sober by sitting with the ghost of Pat Murphy, an alcoholic who drank himself to death. John helps Murphy resolve his anchors and move on.
John starts drinking again, but maintains moderation. He eventually works occasional drug use into his routine, but manages to keep things from getting out of control. Even his worst moments don't approach the darkness of the previous decades.
He adopts a policy of making the month of October a dry month to commemorate when he hit rock bottom. He does this each year to prove to himself that he is in control of his vices.
John Harkin encounters John Smith. Smith offers him a place to put his new found clarity to work for the betterment of the world, working on projects for the Council.
Harkin decides it's better for the world if he doesn't pass the Devil's genes on to another generation and has a vasectomy.
John moves out of the Chelsea, buying a townhouse in the East Village.
Return of Halley's Comet. Round two with spiritual badness crossing into the material world. This time John is prepared.
Harkin buys a car and starts a cross country road trip. He visits with allies in the Vigil, friends, and other agents of the Council. Adventures and insanity abound, including crashing Roux and the Plantagenet's "Monster Prom" with Nuri on his arm.
Crown Heights Riot. Black/Jewish race conflict breaks out in Brooklyn. John works behind the scenes to try and make sure that demons and spirits don't make the situation worse than it already is.
The NYPD is coming up empty on clues with a serial killer on the loose. Or so it seems. Somebody is destroying evidence and reprogramming cops to clean up after the killer. It looks to Harkin like it could be a sloppy vampire, but physical confirmation is hard to come by. The victims' ghosts aren't lingering around as they usually would, so Harkin must take extreme measures to find the answers he needs.
He travels into the land of the dead to find the shades of the victims and question them about their final moments. After a long and dangerous trip, John emerges with answers which disturb him. The ghosts are never making it to the Underworld because the killer eats them. Several of New York's dead speak in hushed fear of the vampire that eats ghosts.
John assembles his allies in the Vigil, sharing his knowledge with them to better prepare them for the hunt. He calls in Duchess to scout for him and help track the bloodsucker down.
The cell eventually corners the vampire, a monster nearly lost to the beast within. As the cell struggles with the monster, Harkin begins summoning ghosts. Angry ghosts. Violent ghosts. Though they are upset at being called to him, Harkin points out that he's offering them a chance to victimize someone who harms their kind. The ghosts join in the assault on the vampire.
Though several of the Hunters are injured, the combined assault proves too much and the frenzied monster goes down.
John Smith revitalizes the Council, bringing it together as the Accord.
One of Harkin's first moves following the restructure is to recruit Duchess into the Accord.
Harkin helps organize the first Accord cell of New York City.
John helps a girl get revenge on her celebutante ex-boyfriend and gets laid in the process. Surely this won't come back to bite him in the ass at a later date.
Harkin is approached by Cassandra Jones who informs him that he needs to recruit her so that she can help people. A mage and a psychiatrist, she doesn't fit the profile of John's usual associates, but she will over time, become one of his better friends.
Against John Smith's direct orders, Frank Langley leads a large number of active Cells into a Tear to try to eliminate the source of the Incursions. The Tear closes but the incursions do not stop.
The loss of so many colleagues in the Accord sorely tests John Harkin's ability to maintain October as a sober month, but he perseveres.
For the first time since he left her in 1978, Harkin and Roux run into each other in a bar. Lost weekend of debauchery ensues. Eventually, the debauchery slows enough for the two to have a very important conversation. She drops a bombshell on Harkin, and the resulting chaos causes John to miss a very important flight. As a result, he isn't present when Frank Langely returns and kills over 100 Accord members.