The mysterious and enigmatic Straw Man manifests on Earth with mocking laughter during times of great strife to defend the planet against the most insidious of evils.
Grasping at Straws
Nearly everything concerning the being known as the Straw Man remains conjecture, primarily due to his own secretive nature, but at some time in ages past, he leaves his mark on Earth by creating a massive oil painting of a scarecrow. The painting acts as the Straw Man’s mystical means of controlling his direct enemy the demon Kalumai’s egress to the planet when a battle between the two almost completely destroys the demon’s cult of followers.
The terrifying scarecrow painting begins to fall into various hands over the centuries, mostly those of dabblers in the occult, while Kalumai attempts to reopen the portal contained in the artifact again and again without success.
The exact extent of the Straw Man’s abilities has never been quantified by mortals, but during his earthly manifestations he exhibits telepathic powers to communicate with those he sets his eye upon as allies. He may either influence these humans to act as his avatars or possess their physical bodies outright, usually making them to appear as scarecrows. In addition, he can form inhuman constructs, seemingly made from straw that while ambulatory and strong are also vulnerable to fire.
The Straw Man’s powers also extend to control over plants, crows, and the weather, the creation of portals between his dimensional home and others, and a chilling laugh that causes fear.
Like Straws in the Wind
The Straw Man’s relationships with humans normally do not last long, though there have been notable exceptions. For reasons known only to himself, he focused on the Duncan brothers, Dave and Jess, during his modern-era battles with the demon Kalumai, apparently finding Dave in particular a suitable vessel for his purposes. The Straw Man seems to also value Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange’s status as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, enough to take the magician into his confidence in his fight against the Fear Lords.
As for his opposite numbers, Kalumai represented one of the Straw Man’s greatest foes until the Fear Lords presented a challenge to his protection of Earth. In all, the exact nature of the being’s outlook toward mortals and how he chooses his allies and enemies may forever be a mystery.
The scarecrow painting came up for auction in modern times and caught the attention of both Rovik, a worshipper of Kalumai, and artist Jess Duncan, who desired to own the work all his life. Jess’ brother Dave made sure Jess won the auction and Rovik set about acquiring it through devious means, specifically by kidnapping Jess’s girlfriend Harmony to sacrifice her to Kalumai. The Straw Man moved quickly to seemingly possess Dave to use him as his agent to destroy the cult and Rovik with it. Dave Duncan walked away from the event with absolutely no memories of his part in it.
Not long after a new Kalumai operative named Bartolome managed to bring demons through the painting to create chaos on Earth. The Straw Man again used Duncan as his avatar to stop the evil creatures and save Harmony from another attempt on her life. In the aftermath, the Straw Man utilized a sketch drawn by Jess Duncan to return to his own dimension.
Later, the Fantastic Four’s Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing, attended a soiree of Jess Duncan’s to view the scarecrow painting, but wound up clashing with one of Kalumai’s own avatars among the party’s attendees. The Straw Man possessed Dave Duncan once more to defeat the demon by allowing the painting to be set on fire, thus closing the portal permanently. Unfortunately, Dave was taken into the painting before it was destroyed and has not been seen since.
When a group of villainous entities called the Fear Lords invited the Straw Man into their ranks, he informed them of his protection of Earth and his intention to oppose any dark plans they had for the planet. As the head of a TV horror channel named Skirra Corvus, the Straw Man contacted Doctor Strange to warn him of the Fear Lords’ schemes. During this time the scarecrow painting reappeared, perhaps signaling the being’s renewed attentions to the well-being of Earth and its citizens.
D’Spayre, one of the Fear Lords, captured their powers for himself, forcing the Straw Man to ally himself with Strange and other champions in the Halls of Fear to battle the demon. In the end, the Straw Man once more sacrificed his physical manifestation to bring about D’Spayre’s defeat.
More recently, the Straw Man clashed with the demon Nightmare, another member of the Fear Lords, during the Serpent’s brief reign of terror on Earth.