The son of Adam and Eve, Cain was the first human born on Earth. As a young man he became consumed by jealousy of his younger brother, Abel, and slew him. Angered, God cursed Cain to be forever immortal and doomed to wander the Earth as an outsider and pariah. This story of Cain grew and became manifest in humanity's collective subconscious. Eventually, Cain was invited to live in the Dreaming, at the request of his brother.
Cain first appeared in The House of Mystery #175, created by Bob Haney, Jack Sparling and Joe Orlando. He is based on the biblical figure of Cain.
First introduced late in the Silver Age, little was known about Cain. He primarily served as a bookend character to frame horror anthology tales. As such, 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. This version of the character had a cruel and vicious sense of humour, but it was never made clear if he was the biblical Cain; his exact nature and origins were unclear. During this period a continuing rivalry with his brother was introduced, however Cain did not physically attack his brother.
In the Bronze Age Cain began to appear in continuity with other characters, and was explicitly described as not being the biblical Cain. 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. He also began repeatedly killing his brother, and he was once again described as being the actual Cain, or a representation of him.
The Modern Age expanded on Cain's nature and origins. Now a being of the Dreaming, he became the keeper of mysteries. Once again not technically the biblical Cain, he became more closely identified with his biblical counterpart, as he is essentially the story of Cain. His repetitive killing of his brother became framed as a compulsion from which he was unable to restrain himself.
Major Story Arcs
House of Mystery
Cain opens his home, the House of Mystery, 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. To aid in the telling of his stories he kidnaps artists and writers and holds them in the House. Occasionally he appears in stories, generally when the subjects arrive at the House. He sometimes enters his brother's House of Secrets, or the Haunted House to share stories, torment his brother, or steal Destiny's book.
Working as the caretaker of the House of Weirdness, Cain meets Blue Devil when the hero accidentally stumbles through a portal into the House, incidentally allowing the Hairy Devourer to escape into his dimension. Cain returns with Blue Devil to help locate and subdue the monster. Afterwards, he forces Blue Devil to take a lease on the house that has a permanent portal to the House of Weirdness. He occasionally intrudes into Blue Devil's reality, and sometimes solicits Blue Devil's help in dealing with escaped weirdness.
Elvira's House of Mystery
Having been missing for almost a year, Cain returns to the House of Mystery, now under the care of Elvira, uncertain as to where he has been. A great wave of forgetfulness rises up, and he possesses only fragmentary memories of his time in the House of Weirdness.
Having remained behind in the Dreaming during Dream's long absence, Cain and his brother are approached by the greatly weakened Dream. He takes Morpheus in at the House of Mystery, and helps him regain some strength. Later, he is sent by Morpheus as emissary to Lucifer, as his Mark protects him from harm. When the infant Daniel enters the Dream, Cain insists on sharing stories with him. When the Dream comes under assault Abel is destroyed by the Furies, and Cain seeks shelter in Dream's palace. Following Morpheus' death he demands an audience with Dream to insist that Dream reincarnate his brother. Dream does so, and Cain attends Morpheus' wake with his brother.
Cain's treatment of Abel causes Abel's gargoyle, Goldie, to run away. Cain agrees to help get Goldie back. He travels with Abel all across the Dreaming, finally locating Goldie in the ruins of the Garden of Eden. He returns to the House of Mystery, where he continues to interact with dreamers and stories. The House eventually gets tired of his behaviour, ejects him, and kills itself. This sends him into a deep depression, and forces him to move into the House of Secrets. He flees the Dreaming for some time, before he is ultimately found and returns under the orders of Dream. He ends the Nightmare War by sharing a secret with the Houses of Secret and Mystery, causing them to free Echo.
House of Mystery
The House of Mystery runs away from Cain, and he spends a great deal of time attempting to locate it and take it back. He is approached by the Pair of the Conception and becomes the Coachman, taking people out of the House and interrogating them about it. He joins forces with Ceorel and the Thinking Man in an attack on the House, which fails. He and Ceorel pursue the House to the Space Between, where they are briefly trapped, but he manages to re-enter the House, and escapes when it is transported out by the Conception. Back inside the House, he reluctantly becomes co-manager of its bar with Fig Keele. He is forced to accompany Fig on a journey through her own mind and memories. The House is destroyed soon after, and Cain is excluded from Lotus Blossom's new version of it. He creates a cabal with several powerful individuals to try to drive out Lotus Blossom, who has destabilized the universe. When the universe is stabilized he finds he is permanently pushed out of her version of the House, and begins to construct his own.
Cain makes a cameo appearance alongside Abel in a dream being had by the Scarecrow in this adaptation of Batman: The Animated Series.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Cain is turned into a statue and impersonated by Klarion the Witch Boy, who trashes the House of Mystery and turns Abel into a tree as revenge for Cain and Abel not giving him a treat on Halloween.
A version of Cain appears as a member of staff at Mystik U.
Powers and Abilities
Cain is immortal, and possesses a Mark on his forehead given to him by God, indicating that any person who harms him will have that same harm visited upon them sevenfold. He is capable of independent dimensional travel between the Dreaming and the real world. He is the caretaker of mysteries, and has an innate knowledge of all mysterious things. He is a gifted storyteller.
Justice League Action
Cain appears as the narrator in the episode "Trick or Threat." He is voiced by Trevor Devall.
Cain appears using the pseudonym Lt. Marcus Pierce in the episode "They're Back, Aren't They?" He is portrayed by Tom Welling.