The first mention of a Satanic figure in modern Marvel Comics appeared a few weeks apart with the debuts of Satannish and Mephisto.
“Lo, there shall be a beginning.”
But, Satannish and Mephisto were far from the only Devils at Marvel. The Marvel Universe viewed the moniker of Satan as a title to be obtained or stolen as the story saw fit. Today, we’ll follow a brief history of various demons and miscreants that have fought for the title.
“Gaea and the Demiurge begat the Demogorge. ” Gaea was the Goddess of the Earth while the Demiurge was the personification of all life on the planet. Gaea feared what the other Elder Gods were doing and she mated with the Demiurge to produce an heir to protect the Earth. The Demogorge was born fully powered with the fury of the Sun. As the Elder Gods were mutated into demons by his presence, the ones that survived fled and hid from the Demogorge’s power.
Early life in the Marvel Universe began to huddle in the areas where the Elder Gods hid. Some of these societies formed cults around the deposed demonic Gods and began problems that would continue to evolve to this very day. Below we look at those Gods and lesser begins that rose up in the wake of the Demogorge.
Mephisto is the first image that appears in your head when you think of Satan in Marvel. Look at that John Buscema design and try to tell me that he was meant to be anything other than His Infernal Majesty? Well, he’s actually a lesser lord of Hell that likes to pretend to be the big boss man to mortals and aliens throughout existence. Mephisto’s domain is the Arena of Tainted Souls. The Arena is where Mephisto got the idea to bond his nemesis Zarathos with various mortals throughout history. This process created the Ghost Rider that we all know and love.
Recent years have seen Mephisto being intrigued by the purity of heroic souls. The Silver Surfer remains a favorite of Mephisto, as he can’t make the alien herald break to his demands. Mephisto would use his influence over the damned to claim Doctor Doom’s mother’s soul and push the Latverian monarch into learning the Black Arts. Over the years, Mephisto would torment the Asgardians and find ways to endure himself to Thanos. Most recently, Mephisto tricked Mary Jane into giving up her married existence with Spider-Man in order to save the life of Aunt May.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Marduk Kurios is the closest thing to a true Satan in Marvel. After all, his son Daimon Hellstrom has been given the title “Son of Satan”. The less said about his daughter Satana, the better. Basically, Marduk Kurios is the closest to the classical Satan that the Western world knows. He tricks fools, taints pure women and overthrows the best of mortal machinations.
Fortunately for the Marvel Universe, his children turn against them and start founding the modern alliances to overthrow their father and his Satanic allies. Kurios has been toned down in recent years. He helped to fight the Chaos King and the Serpent during the big company crossovers. However, he’s quick to manipulate fellow Lords of Hell such as Mephisto.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Satannish is a demon cut from the same energy that produced Mephisto. His schtick is empowering individuals that desire to be greater than the sum of their parts. In exchange, he gets their souls. Satannish has been responsible for the creation of the Night Shift among empowering the Sons of Satannish cult. Writers outside of Roy Thomas didn’t really use this character much in its first twenty years of existence. After all, Mephisto was far more popular. There was a recent effort to tie the creature’s existence to the British concept of Avalon. But, it hasn’t been used much since the cancellation of “Captain Britain and MI: 13”.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Belasco is an Italian sorcerer who tried to use the mystical Bloodstones to summon the surviving Elder Gods. Belasco successfully summoned the Elder Gods and was transformed into an immortal demon for his efforts. While in his new form, Belasco discovered his super rapey side. Belasco’s desire to kidnap and rape women indirectly spawned The Divine Comedy in the Marvel Universe. As he tricked the poet Dante into following his kidnapped Beatrice into Belasco’s hell, Dante would cause Belasco to enter into a state of suspended animation.
In the modern era, Belasco would be awakened by Ka-Zar and Shanna. Belasco immediately tried to rape Shanna and was only defeated by the timely intervention of Ka-Zar. This would result in Belasco being banished to the Hellish realm dubbed Otherplace. Over the years, Belasco would conquer Otherplace and rename it Limbo. Belasco would rule over the realm for ages, setting up a nightmare world that he passed off as the true Hell.
Unfortunately for him, Belasco met his match when he abducted the child Illyana Rasputin. Illyana was the little sister of the X-Man Colossus and he pushed the team to head into Limbo after her. While the team met visions of their mortality, death and general evil…they managed to fight off Belasco. Unfortunately, Belasco snatched Illyana away for a few moments during their escape. When Illyana was returned, she had aged seven years in a matter of moments.
The teenage Illyana had spent half of her life now in Limbo, as she fought along a rebel group to overthrow Belasco. Now, she possessed the Soulsword and claimed rightful dominion over the realm. Still, she was a human girl who only knew kindness up to the age of 6. Illyana would continue to suffer from PTSD up to the modern era, as she tried to escape the grasp of Belasco’s demonic reach.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Chthon is first master of black magic on Earth. The Elder God had time to practice, as he was deformed by the Demogorge and sent into hiding. Fearing that he would be eventually found and killed, Chthon inscribed his complete arcane knowledge into a tome dubbed the Darkhold. As he finished the Darkhold, Chthon sent himself to another dimension with the Darkhold as the means of bringing him back to Earth. The Darkhold would change many hands throughout the years, as it would be used to bring havoc and create order in the world of magic.
Being an Elder God, Chthon spent his time in the other dimension by siring a race of demons dubbed the N’Garai. Chthon would also create an extra-dimensional host named the Other that he would send to societies that were just learning magic. The Other would cut deals with these neophyte sorcerers and unleash new hell upon these people. The Atlanteans would begat the first vampires, then he would later mess with the Caribbean and craft the first zombies. Babylon, ancient Egypt and related Hebrew scholars would all became Chthonic pawns in the Elder God’s efforts to claim the Earth.
In the 6th century, Morgan Le Fey would be the human that brought Chthon back to Earth. While Merlin and Morgan fought Chthon to a standstill, they couldn’t kill the Elder God. Instead, they destroyed his body and bound his spirit to what would become Wundagore Mountain. Merlin then destroyed the Darkhold and scattered its pages to the far corners of the Earth. However, the High Evolutionary would eventually build a lab on Wundagore and his experiments would awaken Chthon from his slumber.
Mount Wundagore would later become the focus of efforts to resurrect Chthon. Whether it be Gregor Russoff’s attempts to cure his lycanthropy or Chthon bonding with the infant Scarlet Witch. The Elder God’s fascination with the Scarlet Witch would prove to be the crux of his far more modern stories.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”These guys are affiliated, but not Satanic. “][vc_column_text]
Dormammu was the ruler of the Dark Dimension and spent centuries creating agents of magic to do his bidding. The demon Satannish was later revealed to be one of his earliest creations, but Dormammu made no claims to the title of Satan. Dormammu was more of an ancient magical Warlord who ruled with an army of Mindless Ones and sought to crush his relatives from claiming his power. Famous for fighting with Doctor Strange for ages, Dormammu’s niece Clea would later turn on her uncle to find love with Strange.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Pluto is the Olympian God of the Underworld. But, since this is Marvel…he gets treated loosely among Asgardians, Olympians and all Old World types. His big introduction was when Zeus banned from him collecting anymore souls for the Underworld. Fearing that worship of the Greek Gods was running out, Pluto disguised himself as a Hollywood producer and tricked Hercules into becoming his envoy. The plot was to use Hercules to lure more souls to the Underworld and to bind the domain to him. Thor found out what was happening and get involved. Pluto would keep more schemes like this going until the Chaos War began. Fearing his death at the hands of Amatsu-Mikaboshi, Pluto opened the realm of the dead for the vanquished to walk among the living once more.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the form that the darkness that once enveloped the Earth. When the Demogorge was born and purged the Elder Gods from the planet, thus allowing humanity to be fruitful…Amatsu-Mikaboshi was supposed to have been destroyed. The Kami were chosen as the early Gods of the Japanese people and related Asian nationalities. This angered what was left of Mikaboshi and he reformed as a Dark God bent on hate.
Spending ages planning on returning Earth to primordial darkness, Mikaboshi made allies with Thor, Hercules and Amadeus Cho. When the time was right, Mikaboshi killed The Impossible Man and Nightmare to begin his attack. Mikaboshi would engage Galactus and the heroes of Earth in a fight, while slowly draining the life out of Gaea. Mikaboshi was only defeated when tricked by Hercules.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Hela is the Asgardian Goddess of Death. She was given dominion over the realms of Hel and Niffleheim. Unfortunately for Asgard, Hela later planned on taking the good souls out of Valhalla. Hela spends most of her time tempting Gods and powered individuals into either giving up or doing what she wants. For her first two decades’ of existence, most of the comics depicted her as fighting like a vulture over Odin’s corpse. Odin died a lot in the early Thor books. By a lot, I mean roughly every other year.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Why have Satan in the Marvel Universe?”][vc_column_text]The concept of Evil in the Marvel Universe is defined in broad strokes. You have petty evil like a crook killing Uncle Ben in a robbery. You have grandscale evil like Ultron destroying an Eastern European nation to prove a point. Then, you have cosmic evil ala Galactus eating populated worlds to continue living. What I have attempted to do here is paint a portrait of the vaguely supernatural/belief oriented Evil that dances in and out of the Marvel Universe.
While there are lesser demons, Gods and other supernatural fellows that I left out for sake of brevity…you’ll find that most of their origins tie back to those mentioned here. Many of these characters will be touched upon again in my ongoing Marvel Projects. So, this is not the end of that thread. I just hope that you enjoyed this brief Halloween themed jaunt into Marvel Horror.
“WANT TO READ UP ON THE EVENTS COVERED IN THIS PIECE?”
- Thor Annual #10 (1982)
- Silver Surfer Vol. 1 #3 (1968)
- Marvel Spotlight #13 (1974)
- Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #8 (1989)
- Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme Annual #2 (1992)
- Doctor Strange Vol. 1 #174 (1968)
- Ka-Zar the Savage #11 (1982)
- Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1 #160 (1982)
- Marvel Chillers # 1 (1975)
- Avengers Vol. 1 #187 (1979)
- Strange Tales #126 (1964)
- Thor Vol. 1 #127 (1966)
- Thor Vol. 1 #150 (1968)
- Chaos War #1 (2010)
- Thor: Blood Oath #6 (2005)
- Journey into Mystery #102 (1964)