Duma (DC Comics)

Duma (DC Comics)

Duma is a fallen angel in the DC Vertigo series The Sandman, created by the British author Neil Gaiman. His name means "silence", and he is based on an angel from Jewish mythology.

Contents

Outside the Sandman mythos

In Jewish folklore, Duma is the angel of silence and death's stillness; the Hebrew word "Dumah" means silence. According to the same stories, he is the guardian of Egypt and the prince of vindication, and sometimes is called the angel who killed the firstborn Egyptians in Moses' time. At least one source names him a "Prince of Hell"; meaning that at some unknown point in time, he apparently displeased God and fell from grace.

The Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, describes his position in Hell as such that he had "tens of thousands of angels of destruction" under him, and that he was "chief of demons in Gehinnon (Hell; a more familiar spelling is "Gehenna") with 12,000 myriads of attendants, all charged with the punishment of the souls of sinners."

In Babylonian mythology, Dumah is the name given to the guardian of the 14th gate, a gate through which the goddess Ishtar passed on her journey to the underworld. It is unclear whether the Babylonian and Hebrew mythology are related.

Within Sandman

Duma
Comic image missing.svg
Duma
Publication information
Publisher Vertigo Comics\DC Comics
First appearance The Sandman #24 (March 1991)
Created by Neil Gaiman
In-story information
Species Angel
Place of origin The Silver City

It is unknown how much of Duma's background from Jewish mythology that Gaiman actually incorporated into the character (in fact Duma's role as the vindicator was taken by another DC Character, the Spectre, who also entered in contact with Duma). Many theories and interpretations have been put forward, but nothing is concrete.

In Season of Mists, Lucifer has closed down Hell in frustration, handing off the key to Morpheus. Eventually, after much squabbling between various gods, Duma and Remiel receive a message saying that they are to watch over Hell. Remiel immediately rejects it. But Duma, being the angel of silence and thus unable to voice his opinion on the matter, simply takes the key and puts it around his neck. It is thus that Remiel and Duma become the guardians of the Sandman mythos' Hell.

Duma's sacrifice in taking the key enlightened Remiel, who subsequently accepted the heavy burden of rehabilitating lost souls.

Duma Speaks

Duma also appears at the funeral of Dream of the Endless in The Wake, where he gets up and "speaks", but being the angel of silence, simply sheds a single tear which effectively communicates his feelings to all those present.

Following the end of the Sandman series, Remiel and Duma give up ownership of Hell in a complex sequence of events in the Lucifer spin-off series. This is the first time we hear Duma actually "speak", when he defies Remiel and says that Christopher Rudd was entitled to be the ruler of Hell. Duma had the key to Hell and takes it off his neck and hands it over to Christopher Rudd. Remiel and everyone is shocked to hear him speak.

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