The son of Adam and Eve, Abel was the second born on Earth. As a young man he became a shepherd, and sacrificed a sheep to God, to God's delight. His elder brother Cain grew increasingly consumed by jealousy and anger towards Abel, and Abel was ultimately slain by his brother. This story of Abel was invited by Dream to live in the Dreaming, where he ultimately settled in the House of Secrets
Abel first appeared in DC Special #4, created by Mark Hanerfeld, Bill Draut, and Joe Orlando. He is based on the Biblical figure of Abel.
First introduced late in the Silver Age, little was known about Abel. He was never explicitly identified as the biblical Abel; his exact nature and origins were unclear, and he primarily served as a bookend character to frame horror anthology tales. Given his work, he was aware of the fourth wall and frequently interacted with the audience. He also firmly existed in the real world, and based on dialogue and his own actions did not appear to be immortal. During this period a tense relationship with his brother was introduced, however Cain did not appear to kill Abel. He also had an imaginary friend named Goldie to whom he frequently spoke and told his stories.
Early in the Bronze Age Abel began to appear more frequently in continuity with other characters, and was explicitly described as not being the biblical Abel. He began to occasionally imply some sort of longevity or immortality. Abel initially displayed a stutter in response to stressful or frightening situations, and in this Age this inconsistently developed into stuttering as a persistent speech impediment, which vanished only while he was telling stories. Towards the end of the Age his existence on Earth became increasingly hazy, and he began identifying his existence as being in another dimension, or outside the realms of the "normal" universe in some way. His brother also began to murder him repeatedly, and by the close of the Age he was clearly identified as being the biblical Abel, or at least a representation of him.
The Modern Age expanded on Abel's nature and origins. Now a being of the Dreaming, he became the keeper of secrets. Once again not technically the biblical Abel, he is still closely identified with his biblical counterpart, as he is essentially the story of Abel. The imaginary character of Goldie vanished, but was referenced when Abel's pet gargoyle, Goldie, was introduced. His stutter became firmly entrenched as a permanent element of his speech, save when he was telling stories.
Major Story Arcs
House of Secrets
Abel opens his home, the House of Secrets, to storytellers and those in search of a good scary story. He narrates stories, either that he was personally involved in or that someone else told him. Occasionally he appears in stories, generally when the subjects arrive at the House. He sometimes enters his brother's House of Mystery, or the Haunted House, to share stories and interact with other horror hosts.
Having remained behind in the Dreaming during Dream's long absence, Abel and his brother are approached by the greatly weakened Morpheus. He helps Cain care for Dream, and provides Dream with the letter of commission that he had been granted when he first entered the Dreaming. When the infant Daniel Hall enters the dream, Abel takes him into the House of Secrets, and joins in the sharing of stories. He is destroyed by the Furies when they assault the Dreaming. Following Morpheus' death, Abel is resurrected by Dream at Cain's request. He attends Morpheus' wake with his brother.
Cain's treatment of Abel causes Abel's gargoyle, Goldie, to run away. Abel drags Cain along to find her, finally locating Goldie in the ruins of the Garden of Eden where they must leave her behind, much to his distress. He returns to the House of Secrets, where he continues to interact with dreamers and stories. He grows increasingly distraught over the loss of Goldie, as he believes he has no friends left and there will be no more after her. He strikes Cain when his brother tries to destroy his shrine to Goldie, causing the curse of Cain's mark to be visited on him. Instead of killing him, the avenging angel returns Goldie to him, claiming it will bring great tragedy into his life. Later, when Cain is ejected from the House of Mystery, Abel takes his brother and his mysteries in at the House of Secrets. He accompanies Eve and Gregory to Litharge to try to convince Cain to return. He is later captured, tortured, and killed in the Nightmare War, and is restored to life at its conclusion.
House of Mystery
After the House of Mystery runs away, Abel briefly takes in his homeless brother. Later, he locates the House and, with the help of Harry, corrals several of the nightmares that have broken loose there. Through dreams, he begins sending customers to the House to keep Harry company. When Cain reclaims the House and becomes co-manager of the bar there, Abel becomes a regular addition to the staff. He allows the goblins to execute him for the murder of Strawberry Keele to spare the true murderer, Jordan Mayer. When The Hunter of the Ages kills all the inhabitants of the bar, he tells them all the secret of how not to die after being killed, returning them all to life. He allows the Hunter to take his heart to fulfill his quest. When the House of Mystery vanishes again he makes his House into a place for all people who have nowhere to go, and allows the bar to briefly take up residence there before becoming fed up with the rowdy patrons and ousting them. He later returns to the Dreaming with his House and Cain.
Abel makes a cameo appearance alongside Cain in a dream being had by the Scarecrow in this adaptation of Batman: The Animated Series.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Abel is turned into a tree by Klarion the Witch Boy, who trashes the House of Mystery and impersonates Cain after turning him into a statue, all as revenge for Cain and Abel not giving him a treat on Halloween.
Powers and Abilities
Abel is immortal, and capable of resurrecting from any fatal wound, including those that severely damage or destroy parts of his body. The length of time this resurrection takes varies greatly. He is capable of independent dimensional travel between the Dreaming and the real world. He is the caretaker of secrets, and has an innate knowledge of all secret things. He is a gifted storyteller.