First Appearance: Fantastic Four v1 #35 (February 1965).
Appearances: Fantastic Four v1 #35.
Years Active: 9th century C.E.-present.
As always, Ronald Byrd comes through with great information:
The story of the Deacons started "nearly a thousand years ago" when "a group of saintly people...men and women trained in the forces of good" (dressed like monks, but then, in 10th century Spain there was no doubt a rather limited notion of what forces qualified as "good") rebelled against Diablo, at that time just getting his start in Spain (to be fair, though, I should note that OHMU claims Diablo was first active in the early NINTH century; well, what's a century more or less?). When Diablo relocated to Transylvania, the Order of the Deacons followed him and clashed with him several times, but for some reason "time made them weaker" and their ability to oppose his schemes diminished. Finally, in the nineteenth century, a single Deacon led a group of peasants to inter Diablo alive, where, of course, he remained until released by the FF themselves early in their career. All of this information is given to us Blanca del Hierro, allegedly the last of the Order (and quite young; she does not specifically say she has been trained by pre-existing Deacons, and she may have simply come across documents informing her that she is descended from Deacons and decided to take up the mantle without encouragement; certainly we've heard of no Deacons opposing any of Diablo's other post-FF #1 activities, which have, after all, been satisfactorily handled by the FF, Iron Man, Alpha Flight, and others; btw, despite the mention of men AND women above, Diablo acts as though female Deacons are a new thing, but that could just be Diablo being condescending, trying to psyche Blanca out). The Deacons, Mister Fantastic adds, "were mentioned briefly in one or two books" (come on, "one" or "two," either it was just ONCE or it wasn't) "Stephen Strange lent me." The capabilities of the Deacons are not described; they wield staffs, have access to exorcism rites (this is apparently all that Blanca was counting on, although the notion of "exorcising" Diablo, who after all is NOT a demon and not in actual possession of anyone (as far as *I* know, anyway), strikes me as odd in retrospect; can you, uh, exorcise just anybody, someone who's just STANDING there?), and, in keeping with their time and place of origin, appear to be basically Catholic (at least, Blanca is). Not a noticeably impressive addition to the lineup, but an addition nonetheless.