Darkhold

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For the Forgotten Realms location, see Castle Darkhold.
Darkhold
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Marvel Spotlight #4 (June 1972)
Created by Gerry Conway
Mike Ploog
In-story information
Type Book, Mystic item/artifact
Element of stories featuring Chthon
Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins
Cover of Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins 1 (Oct, 1992). Art by Richard Case.
Series publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre
Publication date October 1992 – January 1994
Number of issues 16

The Darkhold, also known as The Book of Sins, is a fictional book (a grimoire) in the Marvel Comics universe.

Publication history[edit]

The Darkhold was co-created by Gerry Conway and Mike Ploog. The Darkhold was first mentioned in Marvel Spotlight #3 (May 1972) but first shown in Marvel Spotlight #4 (June 1972). The book has subsequently appeared in Werewolf by Night #1 (September 1972) and Marvel Chillers #3 (February 1976).

The series Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins ran 16 issues, from October 1992–January 1994.

The Darkhold received an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update '89 #2.

Fictional book history[edit]

Chthon, a demonic Elder God who was the Earth's first practitioner of black magic, was the principal author of the Darkhold. Being academic, Chthon wrote all his collected knowledge of magic into the iron-bound scrolls that served as the first form of the Darkhold. It remained as the Darkhold after most of the Elder Gods were slain (Chthon and Set managed to escape) by the Demogorge. The Darkhold’s power is so vast it took the combined strength and will of both Merlin and St. Brendan to contain it, and even together, they were unable to destroy it or its power. Mordred also seemed to believe that use of the Darkhold would grant him sufficient strength to challenge Merlin himself.[volume & issue needed]

First vampire[edit]

Humans first found the Darkhold during the time of surface Atlantis. When Kull slew Thulsa Doom, Doom's followers, the Darkholders, utilized the Darkhold to create the first vampire, Varnae, dying due to wounds suffered in battle with Kull. Varnae consumed one of the Darkholders who attempted to command him, and began creating other vampires. Some surviving Darkholders managed to make off with the Darkhold before Atlantis sank.[1]

When Atlantis sank, Varnae went into hibernation and did not revive until circa 10,000 BCE. He found that some parchments of the Darkhold had been left behind in the Flaming Mountains of Khorasha. Varnae attempted to recover these parchments, now bound into "The Iron-Bound Book Of Skelos." In an altercation with Conan, Red Sonja, and the sorcerer Zula, Varnae controlled bat-like humanoids called the Afterlings. Zula used a spell from the Darkhold/Chthon Scrolls against Varnae, reciting, "Shemek Iref Wenek Tjhen Inek It-Ek Chthon Djedeni Emm-Maat Wenen Taeei Hemet Ankh-Ek Isheset Antioo Djedte Nes Sep Iree Nen Renek Anhkhu Wi-Im Valka!" He then noted, "I'm sorry the incantation ended where it did--and only hurt Lord Varnae, rather than destroying him." To Zula, the words appeared in Stygian, but it had long been known that Chthon had cast a spell that would make the Darkhold appear intelligible in any language. In any event, Varnae fled.[2]

Red Sonja[edit]

Zula also used the Darkhold against the Set-worshipping sorcerer Thugra Khothan. Later Red Sonja and Zula traveled to Zamboula, Zamboula serving as the western part of the Turanian empire. Totrasmek, the priest of the deity Hanuman (note that Hindus also worship a simian deity called Hanuman), came into possession of the Chthon Scroll/Darkhold. Totramesk had been searching for years for the Darkhold. Zula recovered the Darkhold and used the scrolls to transport himself and Sonja away. Zula noted that the scroll disappeared as a result of the spell.[3]

Later historians in the Vatican would note that at some point scrolls of the Darkhold were taken East during the Hyborian Age.[4]

Morgan Le Fay[edit]

After the Hyborian Age, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Hebrews came to possess the Darkhold scrolls. Morgan Le Fay bound the scrolls into book form for the first time circa the 7th century. It is around this time they were translated from Chthon's arcane script into Latin. Saint Brendan tore them up. Numerous pages from the Darkhold have been scattered across the globe by cults of Chthon-worshipping Darkholders. The usage of a page of the Darkhold would summon the Darkhold Dwarf, a minion or manifestation of Chthon, who would attempt to manipulate and corrupt the page's invoker.

In the 12th century, a heretical monk named Aelfric had reformed the Darkhold. This monk was burnt at the stake, the Darkhold with him. However, the Darkhold reformed itself, and was purchased by a trader, who was then murdered. By the 17th century, the Vatican came to possess the Darkhold. Dracula sent a thief to acquire it for him, but Cagliostro slew the thief and took it for himself.

At some point the vampire Lord Ruthven may have possessed the Darkhold.

Werewolves[edit]

The Darkhold was also responsible for the curse of the werewolf; an 18th-century man named Grigori Russoff had been tainted by the Darkhold, and was subsequently bitten by a werewolf who served Dracula. Grigori passed this curse of lycanthropy on to his descendents, including eventually Gregor Russoff and his son Jacob Russoff. Taboo, the sorcerer, claims to have found the Darkhold in an old Balkan castle. He used to taunt Gregor Russoff with a possible cure.[5]

Gregor Russoff came to possess the Darkhold. He would later copy much of its content into the journal of his ancestor, and used it as a journal for himself. Accounts vary as to how he came to possess it. Some say he purchased it, while others say he took it from the sorcerer Taboo. Two accounts say that Russoff bought it. In any event, when he read of the origin of lycanthropy in the Darkhold, Gregor Russoff (whose ancestor Grigori had been a werewolf) also contracted lycanthropy. During this time, Dracula shadowed Russoff.

Gregor Russoff attempted to raise Chthon hoping he could cure him of lycanthropy. Chthon instead apparently struck Russoff dead, though Russoff evidently somehow revived. The High Evolutionary and Magnus managed to defeat Chthon at this point. Presumably, the revived Gregor Russoff recovered the Darkhold and somehow managed to hide his activities from the High Evolutionary and Magnus for some time. He was later slain by villagers no earlier than approximately 20 years ago.

Later, Russoff's son Jack also became a werewolf. Recovering the Darkhold from Miles Blackgar, he gave it to a Father Jacquez to translate. Aelfric's ghost possessed Jacquez. At the end of this struggle, Russell erroneously thought that the Darkhold was destroyed. Later, Russoff traveled to Transylvania with the Indian woman Topaz to visit Russoff Manor. There they found Gregor Russoff's diary. Dracula came to possess the diary, but he left it behind in a blizzard in the Alps once he learned that the diary contained a copy of the Montesi Formula to destroy vampires. However, Morgan Le Fay later recovered the diary.

The Darkhold contains the Vampiric Verses, which were used to create the world's first vampire, Varnae, near the end of the time of Atlantis. It also contains the Montesi Formula, which could destroy one or even all vampires. The formula was named for the medieval Catholic priest who discovered it; as only he and his bloodline were immune to the Darkhold's corrupting power. (The Church gave him and his male descendants the right to marry while remaining in the priesthood.) The Montesi Formula was used by Doctor Strange in the modern era to destroy all vampires on Earth save for Hannibal King, who was instead cured of his vampirism.[volume & issue needed] The sorceress Marie Laveau later used the Vampiric Verses to resurrect Varnae, which apparently negated the Montesi Formula.[volume & issue needed] The Darkhold came into the custody of Doctor Strange after he had employed the Montesi Formula to destroy Earth's vampires and restore Hannibal King to true life.[volume & issue needed]

At some point Doctor Doom found a part of the Darkhold that allowed him to cast a spell to access Belasco's Limbo. Also at some point, Mephisto imprisoned a demon called Darklove into a page of the Darkhold. Also called the Shiatra Book of the Damned, the Darkhold has served as the source for the Necronomicon.

Marvel Zombies[edit]

The Darkhold played a role in the fifth Marvel Zombies series, specifically in the third issue.[6] In this series, Machine Man and Howard The Duck (from the primary Marvel universe) and Jackie Kane (from Earth-483) travel between dimensions collecting samples of the various zombie viruses in order to develop a cure. In this issue, they travel to a universe which contains zombies dubbed "Raimis" (a reference to The Evil Dead movies by Sam Raimi). In this universe, though, the zombies are controlled by the Darkhold rather than by the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, which is how they are controlled in the movie series.

Darkhold Redeemers[edit]

A group led by Victoria Montesi, the last member of the Montesi family, attempted to curtail the effects of the lost pages of the Darkhold. The group starred in the series Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins. Many pages of the Darkhold were being passed around by a demonic dwarf. The recipients of the page could use them to grant a wish at the cost of their soul; the wish tends to go horrifically wrong.[7]

Victoria Montesi[edit]

Main article: Victoria Montesi

Louise Hastings[edit]

A member of the Darkhold Redeemers. Professor Louise Hastings was an expert in the occult. She spent her career fighting occult or demonic forces, usually alongside her peers and the Midnight Sons. During the crisis known as the "Midnight Massacre" it was Hastings who saved the day by reading from the Darkhold, sacrificing her soul to Chthon. She was killed months later during the "Siege of Darkness" by Morbius who was possessed by Lilin blood. She is survived by her grandson, Jinx.

Sam Buchanan[edit]

Little is known about Sam Buchanan. He is an Interpol agent who is assigned to protect Victoria Montesi after she barely survived an attack by a cult worshipping the Darkhold. After Victoria Montesi disappears and Professor Hastings was murdered, Sam walked away from the occult. He is presumed back at Interpol.

Modred The Mystic[edit]

Main article: Modred the Mystic

Jinx[edit]

Jinx is the grandson of Louise Hastings, an expert in the occult and a mystic of limited power. It is likely that her experiences in the mystic affected her lineage, although her daughter, Caprice, never demonstrated any mystical abilities. Jinx, however, proved able to access magic to perform small feats without any sort of training. Jinx's mother was killed in a struggle over of the Darkhold pages, and he came to live with his grandmother, Louise. Almost instantly, he became caught up in a Darkhold plot to reassemble the pages. Sam Buchanan was an agent of Interpol and was convinced by his superior, DeGuzman, leader of a Darkholder sect, to betray and bring in the Darkhold Redeemers. Jinx followed Buchanan back to a base in the southwest, where he accessed the energy of a page of the Darkhold to disperse a group of guards and free Victoria Montesi.[volume & issue needed]

An ally of the Darkhold Redeemers, Blade, was temporarily corrupted by a page of the Darkhold, becoming an incarnation of the Demogorge. Modred teleported Jinx back to New Hope to prevent him from being injured in the battle against the Demogorge.[volume & issue needed]

Jinx accompanied the other Redeemers when they investigated Lt. Frank Walsh after he utilized the "Troid" spell of the Darkhold. Following this, Victoria Montesi accessed a page of the Darkhold to gain healing powers. This resulted in the summoning of the creature Monstrosity, which was drawn to follow Victoria and slaughter those it encountered. Jinx attempted to engage the Monstrosity, but was stabbed in the chest by it. He was mortally wounded, but Victoria appeared and used her magics to heal him instantly. It was at this time that Jinx began training as an apprentice to Modred, much to the consternation of the other Redeemers. Jinx demonstrated the ability to focus mystic energy from his right eye while directly participating in the struggle against Spider-X, another Darkhold page user.[volume & issue needed]

Modred's training allowed Jinx to participate in the "Siege of Darkness", amplifying Modred's power to oppose the forces of the demon Lilith I. Internal strife and misunderstandings amongst the Midnight Sons did briefly turn Jinx against Modred, but they soon resolved this. Jinx accompanied the others to the jungles of Central America to locate the Blood member Truth-Sayer. They succeeded, although Truth-Sayer was incinerated by the Fallen member Metarchus. Following this, in order to protect him against the final battle against Lilith and Zarathos, Jinx was sent to the Vatican to remain under the care of Vittorio Montesi.[volume & issue needed]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Darkhold is referenced in the Marvel Anime: Blade episode "The Other Side of Darkness." In the post-credits of the episode, Blade's narration states that he is now fighting against the Vampires who are followers of the Darkhold as seen when he saves a woman from some of the Darkhold-worshipping Vampires.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doctor Strange III #11/2
  2. ^ Conan the Barbarian #244-245
  3. ^ Savage Sword of Conan #194-195
  4. ^ Doctor Strange vol. 3 #13/2
  5. ^ Mystic Arcana #3
  6. ^ Marvel Zombies 5 #3
  7. ^ The Darkhold #1 (October 1992)

External links[edit]