Chthon (Marvel Comics)
|First appearance||(as The Other): Marvel Chillers #1 (October 1975)
(as Chthon): Avengers #186 (July 1979)
|Created by||Marv Wolfman
|Notable aliases||The Other, Demon of the Darkhold, He who holds the Darkness, The Wolf, Demon among Demons, The Great Shadow|
|Abilities||Mastery of black magic and chaos magic
Vast mystical powers
Immense power within his own pocket universe
Chthon is a fictional character, a demonic Elder God in the Marvel Comics Universe. His name derives from chthon, the Greek word for "earth" and "earthly", especially pertaining to earth that was not life giving soil, but dark like that of the grave or the underworld. In some instances, Chthon is portrayed as the Marvel equivalent of the primal Devil of some kind predating that of Judeo-Christian teachings, as his creations, the N'Garai, were driven from Earth by the angel Lucifer before his rebellion against God.
|“||A long time ago, when the world was so new nothing had a name, something woke up. It learned all about what was and what would be... but most of all it learned what couldn't be, what shouldn't be. And it gave those things names, names it wrote on indestructible pages, because a namer has mastery of the named.||”|
—Diabolique, Darkhold #10
Fictional character biography
During the era in which the first single-celled organism formed on Earth, the Elder God Demiurge achieved consciousness after being formed and coalesced from the Earth's biosphere. As conditions on Earth began to support life, it became aware. Wanting to know itself, the Demiurge split itself into countless aspects, one of which evidently became Chthon. Consequently, Chthon is billions of years old.
The Elder Gods are the forerunners to the modern gods and demons of Earth. Other contemporary demons that would become known as the "Elder Gods" as well are Set and Belathauzer. Gaea came into being and was the "Protector of the Emerging Life" that began in the Seas. Oshtur, sister to Gaea and the other Elder Gods, left Earth in search of the mysteries of the universe. Chthon began devoting itself to the study and manipulation of mystical energies, becoming Earth's first master of black magic, even experimenting on his fellow gods.
Set, the "God of the Dead", spawned a number of offspring (e.g., "Sligguth" and "Damballah"). Realizing he could increase his own power by consuming the energy of his fellow demons, Set became the first being on Earth to kill another. By consuming the life energies of a fellow Elder God, Set started down the path to degeneracy. Other Elder Gods quickly began following Set's example, killing each other for more power. The more they consumed, the more they hungered for power. With more power, the hunger became insatiable. Many became corrupt and began warring to satisfy the thirst for power; the victor feeding off the other. After millions of years, all the Elder Gods, except for Gaea and Oshtur, had degenerated to less than their Godhood, becoming evil.[volume & issue needed]
As the Elder Gods degenerated into violence, only Gaea remained peaceful. Seeking a way to protect the innocent life that was growing on the planet, Gaea mated with the Demiurge creating Atum, the first of a new generation of gods that would protect the world from the "Demonic Elder Gods".[volume & issue needed]
Chthon (as well as many of the Elder Gods) had the talent of foresight. As the threat of Gaea's offspring came to light, he inscribed all his dark mystical knowledge (acquired through millennia of practicing evil incarnate) onto indestructible parchments to leave in this dimension (should he be defeated) as a testament to his power and a link between him and this world.[volume & issue needed]
Atum indeed became a threat to the Elder Gods, as he began destroying them for their evil and degradation, absorbing their energies into himself. The demonic energies he absorbed made him more and more powerful and caused Atum to undergo a metamorphosis into the form of Demogorge the God-Eater. Many of the Elder Gods fell to Atum, and those who were not destroyed fled to other dimensions.[volume & issue needed]
Chthon and Set joined together to fight Atum, but were defeated. Chthon, sensing the end was near, cast a spell that allowed him an escape into another dimension before the Demogorge could slay him. Before he left, Chthon left the parchment he had written behind, serving as a touchstone.[volume & issue needed]
Upon learning what her siblings had degenerated into, Oshtur volunteered to leave the Earth dimension to prevent Gaea's spell from being weakened. After the demon-war, Gaea was the only original Elder God permitted to exist on the planet, and she infused her godly essence into the Earth and into all living things (becoming known as "Mother Earth"). The Demogorge released the energies he had absorbed, reverting to the form of Atum. He then took residence within Earth's Sun. Atum returned to the Earth sometime later when Set threatened to invade the Earth with the rise of the dinosaurs. The struggle between Set and Atum was so great, that many believe the energy released during that period was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. After that battle, Atum would father the Egyptian pantheon of gods and later return to Earth when he assisted the "Odinson" Thor, with whom Atum shared his maternal parent, Gaea. Together, Atum and Thor engaged and defeated the Elder God Set.[volume & issue needed]
Chthon added the Demogorge page to the scrolls to ensure that any future Demogorge on Earth would be at his own behest. He also added a counter-spell to stop the Demogorge that could only be cast by someone non-mystical in nature. The parchments would one day be bound together in a single volume and aptly titled, the Darkhold, the Earth's first tome of black magic. In his new dimension, Chthon spawned the race of demons known as the N'Garai, who would return to Earth though he himself could not.[volume & issue needed]
The Darkhold was discovered by human sorcerers in pre-Cataclysmic Atlantis. These sorcerers (including Varnae) founded a cult of Darkholders and used the power of Chthon to become vampires in a bid to attain immortality. Over the next millennia, many people came to use the Darkhold and were corrupted by Chthon.[volume & issue needed]
In the Sixth Century, the sorceress Morgan le Fey became leader of the Darkholders. Morgan and the Darkholders attempted to summon the Elder God to make him do their bidding, not knowing that a demon of his power and consciousness is uncontrollable by Earth's standards. When the Darkholders tried to send the demon "back to whence he came," they discovered they were incapable of banishing him altogether, and so they bound him (with the aid of the text itself) to a single Earthly location, Mount Wundagore, in what would become the Eastern European nation of Transia.
In the late 1940s, Herbert Wyndham, the man who became the High Evolutionary, made his laboratory base at the foot of Wundagore Mountain with the assistance of Doctor Horace Grayson (the father of the 1950s superhero Marvel Boy).
In the 1950s, a young Philip Masters (the Puppet Master) obtained clay from the mountain that had been granted mystical power by Chthon's presence. He would use this clay in his attempts to conquer the Fantastic Four.[volume & issue needed]
A colleague of Herbert Wyndham's, Jonathan Drew, with his wife Miriam and daughter Jessica, arrived during this time. The werewolf Gregor Russoff, a Darkholder whose grandson (birthname Jacob Russoff, legal name Jack Russell) would become the Werewolf by Night, attacked and killed Drew's wife. Jonathan Drew was possessed by the ghost of the magician Magnus, who had fought the Darkholders for centuries. Wyndham, to protect the Drews' daughter, put her in suspended animation.[volume & issue needed]
The High Evolutionary also created a race of artificially evolved humanoid animals called the New Men. He was convinced by Magnus (in Jonathan Drew's form) to pattern their codes of action and conduct after medieval knighthood. They named the elite members of the New Men the Knights of Wundagore.[volume & issue needed]
Centuries later, Chthon's evil infected the young Jessica Drew, who was raised in a lab on Wundagore. He was summoned to battle the High Evolutionary by the werewolf Gregor Russoff, resulting in Russoff's death. Immediately after this defeat, Chthon planted a part of his essence in another child raised beneath Wundagore, Wanda Maximoff.
As his presence faded, Chthon sent a part of his essence into one of Magda's twin children, Wanda, whose mutation was transformed into the ability to manipulate chaos and probability and, later, to manipulate reality itself. Magda died and her children were placed into suspended animation.[volume & issue needed]
Several years later, Robert Frank and his pregnant wife Madeline (formerly the superheroes Whizzer and Miss America) came to Wundagore. Madeline died giving birth to a stillborn child that was deformed by the Franks' exposure to radiation at the hands of their enemy Isbisa. When Robert asked to see his child, Lady Bova, knowing that his wife had died in child birth and to spare his grief, presented the two children (born to the late Magda) to him as his children, but when he learned of his wife's death, he fled. He would for years believe that the twins were his own abandoned children, although the Franks also had one surviving son, Nuklo, who was in suspended animation in the care of the United States government.[volume & issue needed]
The infant twins were returned to suspended animation for decades until Bova brought them to a Transian gypsy named Django Maximoff, who raised the children as his own. While the twins would become the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, Jessica Drew was also freed from suspended animation, eventually becoming the first Spider-Woman.[volume & issue needed]
Chthon's influence amplified some years later thanks to a proliferation of Darkholders across the planet. Vittorio Montesi discovered he was sterile, but was determined to have an heir to guard the Darkhold that had come into his possession. Montesi gave in to temptation and used a Spell of Fertility from the cursed book. This allowed Montesi's wife to become pregnant; not with Vittorio's child, but rather Chthon's demon-spawn. The child was Victoria Montesi who would grow to lead a group of mystic investigators including Modred the Mystic, opposing the users of the Darkhold powers and incantations. Chthon mystically impregnated Victoria with his own life-force in an attempt to be reborn on Earth, but this was prevented by Doctor Strange.[volume & issue needed]
In the modern era, Modred the Mystic and Magnus opposed the Darkholders and Morgan le Fey, respectively; with Magnus also becoming an ally of Spider-Woman.[volume & issue needed]
When Modred the Mystic transcended into loyalty to Chthon, the Elder God had him delude Magnus into absence when he was to rise again. Modred captured the Scarlet Witch and performed the ritual allowing the Chthon to use her as his vessel on Earth. While trying to purge the form of the last of Wanda's humanity and conscience, Chthon appeared before Lady Bova and Wanda's brother, Pietro, warning them to leave or be killed. As Chthon began to grow more powerful in Wanda's earthly form, she attacked Pietro and their adoptive father, Django Maximoff.[volume & issue needed]
Decades later, Chthon managed to fully turn Mordred the Mystic into his servant, and sent him to capture Maximoff (who had since become the Scarlet Witch) for use as his Earthly host. However, the Avengers freed Maximoff from his control.
Chthon returned for revenge and possessed Quicksilver to attack the Avengers, but was defeated again. He attempted to turn his other Wundagore child, Jessica Drew, into one of his demons, but was thwarted when his human puppet for the task, Viper, betrayed him.
- When battling the Viper, Spider-Woman was cast through a portal to the dimension of Chthon's domain. The Elder God touched the hero and began transforming her into a demon. She was rescued by the Viper, having discovered (erroneously, as Viper revealed to Spider-Woman that it was actually an illusion put into the Viper's mind) that Spider-Woman was her daughter and instead betrayed the demon, closing the door to his realm, freeing Jessica, and casting Chthon back into the void (his dimension).
- On one occasion, after Doctor Strange took the Darkhold into his Sanctum Sanctorum for safe keeping, he used the Montesi Formula (developed as an amendment to the Darkhold) to destroy all vampires on Earth. He successfully avoided having Chthon gain control of his soul.
- The Doctor Strange villain Dormammu invoked the Cauldron of Chthon in a spell as he attempted to plunge the Earth into permanent darkness.
- When Morton Thurnton used a Darkhold page, Chthon appeared to him and summoned the Hellhound to aid him in finding weapons of destruction.
- The coming of the "Other Things" returned the Scarlet Witch momentarily to her Chthon-controlled state. In "Perfection, South Carolina", a Darkhold page was used by Aurora Poule and the Other appeared before her. Given a choice between a dress to make her beautiful or revenge on those who had hurt her, Aurora chose the dress. When people were still mean to her, Aurora returned to the Other and asked for revenge. The Other obliged by opening a N'Garai cairn and unleashed the demons on the town.
- The Other was summoned by Reverend Styge and gave him the ability to raise the dead by eating humans.
- When a paralyzed woman named Clarisse Van Ripper used a page, the Other appeared to her and gave her the ability to sense the world through a demon.
- A prison inmate named Norman "Mercy" Zachos used a page of the Darkhold and the Other granted him escape, but he was plagued by demons whenever he was in darkness.
- The Other was summoned by a Mr. Hayward who wanted people to remember what he fought for in World War II. The Other created an army of Japanese planes that attacked Maui in a recreation of Hayward's memories. Many innocent people died.
- On an airplane, Sarrah Roberts used a page and the Other came to her. The Other unleashed a demon that granted her wishes and those of the other passengers. These wishes were twisted so that malice could ensue. Louise Hasting's daughter is slain in this incident.
- Louise Hastings used the Wishing Page to summon the Other. She was tempted to use it to bring her daughter back to life, but she would not give in and she resisted its corruption until her last breath. When her grandson, Jinx, tried to use it, only his status as a mystical adept kept Chthon from being able to dominate him.
- While attempting to free his friends from Interpol, Jinx again drew upon a page of the Darkhold. Bound by Jinx's skill, the Other was compelled to answer when Vicki asked it about the Demogorge page.
- Summoned by Lt. Frank West, the Other granted him with the ability to see Troids.
- When legally brain-dead Johnny Farmer was awakened by the Dwarf and given a page from the Darkhold, the Other came to Farmer and turned him into the Harvestor.
- The vampire hunter Blade used the Demogorge page and summoned the Other. Taking the form of Blade's mother, it offered Blade the chance to have his revenge on the supernatural by becoming a new Demogorge. Blade accepted and became Switchblade. He then killed many supernatural beings, including innocent ones.
- Louise Hastings used the Darkhold to cast the counter-spell to the Demogorge, saving those who had been killed by Switchblade, and losing some portion of her soul to Chthon.
- Chthon made an offer to Modred. In exchange for his soul, he could convince a certain good woman in England to willingly surrender her soul in his place. Modred accepted and succeeded in getting the woman to agree, only realizing after the ritual had occurred that the woman was his beloved Lady Janice. Taking possession of Janice, Chthon fought Modred, who drew upon Janice's love and faith to fend off the demon. Knowing that the Elder Demon would kill Janice before she could be freed, Modred offered his soul to Chthon again and the demon accepted. After Janice died in his arms, Chthon made the Mystic renew his loyalty.
- When Michael Morbius used a page of the Darkhold to attain his deepest desire, the Other resurrected Martine Bancroft for him, though the entity called Parasite had taken over her form.
- Vicki Montesi used a page of the Darkhold, gaining powers to heal using the life forces of those killed by the Monstrosity.
- A young man named Brian Kornfeld was offered a page of the Darkhold and wanted to fight crime. The Other turned him into Spider-X.
- The Demon-Dwarf revealed to Modred that Vicki Montesi was now pregnant with Chthon himself, and that in nine months he would be reborn onto the Earth.
- Chthon had the Midwife, a demon specifically created to give life to the infant Chthon, appear within Doctor Strange's Sanctum and prepare to bring Chthon to Earth again.
- In his dimension the Other-Realm, Chthon prepared to return to Earth. Doctor Strange traveled to Chthon's dimension and, while communicating with the demon, Strange nearly gave in to the darkness (which would have killed him), but Strange was saved only by his faith in "something far subtler and far more majestic than the Great Shadow." Strange then cast a spell with that faith at Chthon, causing the demon to shudder. Chthon then banished the mystic back to Earth, where the Midwife had begun to deliver Victoria's baby. There, Strange seized the opportunity, casting a similar spell that drew upon all the goodness in Victoria's soul. With Chthon weakened by being out of his metaphysical domain, but not yet in physical form, Chthon was forced to retreat to his Other-Realm.
- In a cavern deep within Wundagore, Exodus noticed the living power in the mountain and contemplated how he could use it.
In other media
- In Blade: The Series, there is a Vampire House called the House of Chthon.
- Chthon appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Mother of Doom" voiced by Mark Hamill. Doctor Doom conquers its dimension in order to harness its magic and free his mother. Chthon comes to the Super Hero Squad and Doctor Strange for help. While Wolverine, Hulk, Falcon, and Captain America stay behind in case Doctor Doom's minions attack, Iron Man, Thor, Silver Surfer, and Doctor Strange go with Chthon to his dimension. Prior to the transportation, Chthon had noticed that Doctor Strange used Chthon's Darkhold to hold up the wobbly part of his chair. When it came to the fight against Doctor Doom, Chthon was offered a deal by Doom (which was to take his nagging mother back) and helped him fight the heroes. After Doctor Doom was defeated and the castle everyone was in ends up destroyed, Chthon was locked up. He returned in the episode "Pedicure and Facial of Doom", this time as Coco's minion, and assisted her in her plot for world domination. However, with Doom's help, Coco and Chthon were defeated by the Squaddies.
- Marvel Preview #7
- Thor Annual #10
- Avengers #187
- Marvel Chillers #1
- Spider-Woman #44
- Doctor Strange (vol. 3) #27
- Avengers #185-187
- Mighty Avengers #21-23
- Journey Into Mystery #627
- Darkhold #2
- Darkhold #3
- Darkhold #4
- Midnight Sons Unlimited #1
- Darkhold #6
- Darkhold #8
- Darkhold #9
- Darkhold #10
- Midnight Sons Unlimited #2
- Nightstalkers #10
- Spirits of Vengeance #13
- Darkhold #12
- Morbius #13
- Midnight Sons Unlimited #3
- Darkhold #14
- Darkhold #16
- Doctor Strange (vol. 3) #89
- Doctor Strange (vol. 3) #90
- Quicksilver #11
- Marvel Super Hero Squad Voice Cast