Mephisto (Marvel Comics)

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Mephisto
Mephisto (Marvel Comics character).png
Mephisto, as seen on the variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #545 (Jan. 2008).
Art by Marko Djurdjevic.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Silver Surfer #3 (Dec. 1968)
Created byStan Lee (writer)
John Buscema (artist)
In-story information
Full nameMephisto
SpeciesDemon
Team affiliationsSix-Fingered Hand
Legion Accursed
Notable aliasesMephistopheles, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the devil
AbilitiesSuperhuman physical attributes and intelligence
Immortality
Magical powers

Mephisto is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in The Silver Surfer #3 (Dec. 1968)[1] and was introduced in the Marvel universe by Stan Lee and John Buscema, based on Mephistopheles – a demon character from the Faust legend, who has sometimes been referred to as Mephisto. Introduced as a recurring adversary of the Silver Surfer and Johnny Blaze, an incarnation of Ghost Rider, Mephisto has also endured as one of Spider-Man's adversaries, being part of the superhero's defining stories as well as being responsible for Norman and Harry Osborn's respective transformations into the Green Goblin and Kindred. Mephisto has often come into conflict with Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, and other superheroes in the Marvel Universe, responsible for the creation of the Cosmic Ghost Rider.

Debuting in the Silver Age of comic books, the character has appeared in over five decades of Marvel continuity. The character has also appeared in associated Marvel merchandise including animated television series, feature film, toys, trading cards, and video games.

The character was portrayed by Peter Fonda in the 2007 film Ghost Rider, and Ciaran Hinds in its 2011 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Publication history[edit]

Inspired by Mephistopheles of the Faust legend,[citation needed] he was introduced into Marvel comics by writer Stan Lee and penciler John Buscema, Mephisto debuted in The Silver Surfer #3 (cover-dated Dec. 1968), and was established as a perennial foe for the cosmic hero,[2] also appearing in Silver Surfer #8–9 (Sept.–Oct. 1969) and #16–17 (May–June 1970).

Author Mike Conroy has described Mephisto as "the tempter who could offer the endlessly soul-tormented Silver Surfer the world, even dangling the Surfer's off-limits long-distance lover in front of him. As always the case with Lee's heroes, the Surfer's goodness and nobility won out, but Mephisto was only stymied, not defeated, and the pattern was set."[3]

Mephisto went on to become a foe for the Norse god Thor in Thor #180–181 (Sept.-Oct. 1970), Astonishing Tales #8 (Oct. 1971) and Thor #204–205 (Oct.–Nov. 1972). He was later revealed to be the being to whom Johnny Blaze had sold his soul to and thus had been cursed to become the Ghost Rider,[4] in a retcon that placed him in the role originally played by Satan. This was later retconned back to Satan,[volume & issue needed] though Mephisto's influence is still felt in the 1990s by the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider.

Other appearances included posing as Satan in Marvel Spotlight #5 (Aug. 1972); tormenting the titular superhero team in Fantastic Four #155–157 (Feb.–April 1975) and Thor #310 (Aug. 1981) and 325 (Nov. 1982). Mephisto also guest-starred in two miniseries: The Vision and the Scarlet Witch vol. 2 #1–12 (Oct. 1985–Sept. 1986) and Secret Wars II #1-9 (July 1985–March 1986), before starring in the self-titled miniseries Mephisto vs. #1–4 (April–July 1987), battling several of Marvel's super teams. The miniseries was penciled by co-creator Buscema.

In Daredevil #266 (May 1989), penciler John Romita, Jr. redesigned the character, re-imagining him as a bloated, naked creature with short, vaguely frog-like legs and a demonic-looking head. Romita explained, "I couldn’t see the Devil with tights and a cape."[5] Subsequent portrayals have varied between Mephisto's original appearance and the Romita redesign.

Mephisto continued to torment the Scarlet Witch in Avengers West Coast #51–52 (Nov.–Dec. 1989); created a new adversary for the Marvel heroes in Daredevil #270 (Sept. 1989); and appeared in the graphic novel Triumph and Torment: Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom (1989). Additionally, he was featured prominently in the One More Day storyline in The Amazing Spider-Man #544; Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24; The Sensational Spider-Man vol. 2 #41 and The Amazing Spider-Man #545 (Oct. 2007–Jan. 2008).

In 2009, Mephisto was ranked #48 on IGN's list of Greatest Comic Book Villains of All Time.[6]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Introduction (1960s–1970s)[edit]

Mephisto is a perennial villain in the Marvel Universe, and is responsible for a number of evil acts, including capturing and holding the soul of Cynthia von Doom – the mother of Doctor Doom — until Doctor Strange and Doom freed her to ascend to Heaven.[7] He was jealous of the worship of the fire demon Zarathos, so, posing as Satan, Mephisto creates the Ghost Rider by bonding Zarathos to Johnny Blaze.[8] Mephisto refers to his domain as Hell.[9] In one story where he battled Thor, he was shown to have various historical villains in his realm, such as Adolf Hitler, Blackbeard, and Attila the Hun.[10]

Mephisto claims to have been created, along with many other demons, by the supreme being whose suicide resulted in the creation of the Marvel Universe, as well as the Infinity Gems. He also claimed that his total evil nature is because the supreme being did not choose to make him good, as that being had no concept of it.[11] He witnessed the Celestial known as the Progenitor succumbing to the Horde on Earth, with Mephisto, still young in the form of a fly, taking this opportunity to lay his maggots.[12]

Secret Wars II, 1980s and Infinity Gauntlet[edit]

In Secret Wars II, Mephisto seeks to steal Beyonder's powers or to destroy him to win the favor of Death. Mephisto sends an army of supervillains called the Legion Accursed to attack the Beyonder, who is saved by the Thing. After the Legion Accursed was defeated, Mephisto returned its members to where they were before he formed the group.[13]

Mephisto later creates his 'son' Blackheart, a demonic entity that plagues many of Earth's heroes.[14] Mephisto later manipulates the sorcerer Master Pandemonium into gathering the five scattered fragments of his soul that were lost in an ill-fated encounter with the aforementioned Franklin.[15][16] When the Scarlet Witch attempts to use magic to conceive children with her husband, the android Vision, she unknowingly summons two of Pandemonium's soul fragments, which are born as her infant twins. The revelation of her children's origin, followed by their loss when they are reabsorbed into him, drives the Scarlet Witch insane.[17]

Mephisto also tries to destroy the Avenger Hawkeye when he enters Hell to try to save the soul of his deceased wife, Mockingbird.[18]

Mephisto acted as servant of the mad Titan Thanos during the "Infinity Wars", seeking to attain that power for himself.

2000s[edit]

Mephisto steals Peter and Mary Jane's marriage.

One More Day[edit]

Mephisto also heals May Parker in exchange for changing the personal timelines of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Mary Jane Watson so that they never married, claiming he did so only because he hated their happiness (also adding that he has no interest in taking Spider-Man's soul because such a deal would result in him tormenting a soul that is willing to accept the punishment because its sacrifice saved another, a righteousness which disgusts him). He also, at Mary Jane's request, erases all knowledge of Peter's identity, both learning only at the point of their memories being erased that their future daughter will be erased as well. During the process, Harry Osborn is also brought back to life;[19] the alteration of the timeline retcons details of Harry's death being faked by his father.[20]

2010s[edit]

"Siege"[edit]

Mephisto had bartered part of his realm to the Asgardian death goddess Hela for 1,001 years in exchange for control for 101 days of the 13 surviving Dísir, dangerous evil predecessors to the Valkyries that were created by Odin's father Bor.[volume & issue needed] This troubles the minions who had previously lived in this territory, and part of Siege Aftermath shows the "last stand of the perfidious diaspora" in what seems to have been a revolt. The revolt is quickly put down by the Dísir under Mephisto's command. The Dísir leader Brün tries to negotiate with Mephisto because she wishes to invade Hela's realm of Hel and feast on the souls of the Asgardian dead. Mephisto tells her that he has no interest in Hel, but he does not object to their invasion.[21] Thor, trying to defend Hel and its dead, enters Mephisto's domain to find the Eir-gram, a magical sword that can cut the otherwise insubstantial Dísir. Mephisto offers to give him the Eir-Gram and a "happily ever after" for Asgard if he agrees not to interfere with one of Mephisto's plans, which is not at that time named. Thor remains silent the whole time. Mephisto grants him entry to Hell, but Thor must survive many difficulties before he finds the blade.[22]

"Fear Itself"[edit]

Mephisto appears before a de-powered Johnny Blaze during the attack by Sin in the form of Skadi and states that he has damned the human race. Mephisto then states that he will help Johnny save the human race from the Serpent and the Worthy.[23] Mephisto goes on a date with New Mutants member Magma; apparently confiding in her, he explains that, while he is the embodiment of one of the great forces of the universe, the force that created him also gave him desires and emotions, and he occasionally wants to do human things.[24] Magma later confided to Blink that she has subsequently seen Mephisto again, but wishes to keep it secret.[25] After speaking with the Gods at the Infinite Embassy, Mephisto headed to the Devil's Advocacy to speak with the other demons about the Serpent's threat on Earth.[26]

Mephisto briefly appears to assist Deadpool in destroying one of his demon lieutenants,[27] before taking a major part in the Hell On Earth War,[28] where he is defeated and replaced by X-Factor member Strong Guy as ruler of Hell.[29]

Remaining Era[edit]

When the Thunderbolts were accidentally transported to Hell, Mephisto took the opportunity to give them a way out if they defeated Strong Guy.[30] The Red Hulk convinced Strong Guy to abandon the position of Hell-lord and try to regain his lost soul, allowing Mephisto to regain the throne and let the Thunderbolts return to Earth.[31]

New Multiverse[edit]

Mephisto is revealed to have assumed the form of the Maker to try to prevent Victor von Doom from redeeming his soul.[32]

"Damnation"[edit]

Mephisto finds out that Doctor Strange has restored the lives of the Las Vegas citizens that were killed during when Hydra bombed attack during the organization's takeover of the United States. He orchestrates events that cause his demons to bring Doctor Strange to his recently created Hotel Inferno. Mephisto claims that the remnants of Las Vegas were in his realm before it was restored. Hotel Inferno starts to have an effect on the people of Las Vegas. It also had an effect on the Black Panther, Captain Marvel, the Falcon, Hawkeye, and Jane Foster's Thor form where they were all turned into Ghost Rider-like creatures.[33] As Hotel Inferno starts to affect the people of Las Vegas, Doctor Strange fought Mephisto in a game of blackjack. The deal is that Mephisto had to return the souls to Las Vegas if Doctor Strange won and that Doctor Strange's soul would be claimed by Mephisto if Mephisto won. Though Doctor Strange won by cheating, Mephisto found out and had Doctor Strange tortured.[34] Mephisto then turns Doctor Strange into a Ghost Rider-like creature.[35] After Mephisto removes the Ghost Rider from Johnny Blaze, he throws Blaze from the roof.[36] Mephisto appeared on the battlefield and gloated on them sending Johnny Blaze to attack him. Just then, the possessed Avengers attack Mephisto, as Wong revealed that Mephisto rendering his throne vacant has enabled the Ghost Rider to become the new ruler of Mephisto's realm. After Doctor Strange returned from the Realm Between, he assisted the Midnight Sons and the Avengers in preventing Mephisto from returning to his realm to reclaim his throne. Though Doctor Strange defeated him, Mephisto fled back to his realm where he was defeated by Johnny Blaze and the different Ghost Riders from across the Multiverse. After Johnny Blaze sent Mephisto back to Earth, he was kept at the top of Hotel Inferno in countless restraints as Hotel Inferno remained on Earth. As Doctor Strange, the Avengers, and the Midnight Sons left upon Las Vegas returning to normal, Wong remained behind to keep an eye on Hotel Inferno's casino.[37]

In an alternate future where Thanos conquered the universe, Frank Castle signs a demonic deal with Mephisto to become a Ghost Rider,[38] becoming known as the Cosmic Ghost Rider after being bestowed with the Power Cosmic by Galactus, before coming to serve Thanos after spending countless years on a lifeless Earth after Mephisto's eventual silence, and going insane.[39] After Thanos has the Cosmic Ghost Rider drag his past self to the future in order to kill him, the past Thanos, upon returning to the present, beats up Mephisto and tells him to stay away from Castle, confusing Mephisto and as such bringing Castle to his attention; Mephisto is subsequently beaten up by Gwen Poole and Squirrel Girl.[40]

Doctor Strange later spoke to Mephisto about removing the One Below All's possession from the Hulk after the brief Defenders reunion. Mephisto states that the One Below All is far stronger than he is.[41] Miles Morales later makes a deal with Mephisto to reverse time and resurrect Viv Vision and Kamala Khan, unknowingly at the cost of the death of a woman Miles had earlier saved.[42]

"War of the Realms"[edit]

A flashback revealed that Mephisto came into contact with the Power Elite at some point and helped them out by creating simulacrums that the Power Elite programmed to become the Squadron Supreme of America. This group is used by a somehow-revived Phil Coulson to become the sanctioned superhero team for the United States.[43]

Spider-Geddon's Aftermath[edit]

When the Spider-Man of Earth-44145 threatens the life of James Martin, the Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in the Proto-Clone) uses a signal move he learned from Doctor Strange to call Mephisto, who states that the Spider-Man of Earth-44145 is out of his jurisdiction. The Superior Spider-Man asks Mephisto to restore him to the man he once was for a day so that he can fight the Spider-Man of Earth-44145. While Mephisto states that he either has or does not have his soul, he does have a counteroffer that will restore his body without disease (physical and mental) and the taint of Peter Parker. As the Superior Spider-Man tells Anna Maria Marconi that there is no other option, he expects Mephisto to uphold his end of the bargain.[44]

2020s[edit]

"Heroes Reborn"[edit]

After being killed by Deadpool and going to Hell after his death for unspecified war crimes, Phil Coulson makes a deal with Mephisto to be restored to life in exchange for his fealty, with Mephisto creating simulacrums of the Squadron Supreme of America for him to control as a United States-sponsored superhero team. Coulson later wines with Mephisto while discussing his own plans to destroy the Avengers.[45] After acquiring the Pandemonium Cube, Coulson uses it to rewrite reality in Mephisto's name, erasing the Avengers from existence and making himself the President of the United States.[46] After his role in the reality change is discovered and he is defeated by his former idol Captain America, Coulson is imprisoned in the Pandemonium Cube by Mephisto as punishment and brought before a collection of Mephisto's counterparts from 615 other universes, with whom Mephisto proposes forming a "Council of Red" for multiversal conquest.[47]

"Sinister War"[edit]

Doctor Strange later visited Mephisto at the Hotel Inferno asking about what was wrong with Peter Parker's soul as well as how Harry Osborn was seemingly revived as Kindred.[48] It was during this confrontation that Mephisto confesses his true motivations for erasing the marriage of the Parkers, as at some undisclosed point in the future he finally seizes control of the Earth, only for his reign to be ended by either Spider-Man or his daughter. Striking a deal with Peter to affect his soul and erasing both his marriage with Mary Jane and their daughter was Mephisto's way of ensuring that the future would never come to pass in either scenario. Mephisto is also revealed as the one responsible for the torment and creation of Kindred as part of his long game waged against Peter Parker and the Osborn family, as well for Norman Osborn's initial transformations into the Green Goblin, having long ago made a deal with him in exchange for Harry's soul.[49]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Mephisto is an extremely powerful immortal demonic entity possessing abilities used by manipulating the forces of magic. Mephisto can use his power for a variety of uses, including superhuman strength, shape and size shifting,[50] projecting illusions,[51] manipulating memories,[52] and altering time.[53] He is also highly resistant to injury.[54]

The character has been shown to be energized by sources of evil in the human realm, such as the alien Dire Wraiths.[55] Like other demons, Mephisto is symbiotically linked to, and considerably more powerful within, his own realm, and the character is able to transform the structure at will.[56] Within it he has threatened a galaxy, and stalemated a nourished Galactus until the latter threatened to consume his realm.[57] If Mephisto's physical form is destroyed, the character will regenerate and reform in his domain.[58]

Mephisto is known for acquiring souls, but cannot subjugate the will of another being without the victim's permission, which is usually done with some form of pact.[59]

Other versions[edit]

Guardians of the Galaxy[edit]

In the Guardians' 31st century timeline, he has a daughter named Malevolence.[volume & issue needed]

Universe X[edit]

In the Earth X sequel, Universe X, Mephisto is the force behind Pope Immortus (secretly Kang) and his extermination of Reed Richards' Human Torch to assume mutant dominance.[60] It was later revealed that in that reality, Mephisto is not the devil, but the first mutant to exist where he is shaped by mankind's fear.[61]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

Mephisto (as Satan) appeared in Ultimate Comics: Avengers as the man Johnny Blaze sold his soul to avenge his love Roxanne, and to punish the guilty as a "bounty hunter for Hell."[62]

Marvel Mangaverse[edit]

The demonic Mephisto created Galactus in Marvel Mangaverse.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Zombies: Halloween[edit]

Mephisto appears in Marvel Zombies: Halloween, saving Kitty Pryde and her son, Peter, from a zombified Darkhawk, Alex Power, Squirrel Girl, Karolina Dean, and Mettle, in order to claim Kitty and Peter's souls for later.[63]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Mastermind creates illusions of Mephisto, Psyklop, Zarathos and Annihilus in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
  • Mephisto makes a cameo appearance in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends animated series episode "The Prison Plot", as an illusion created by Mastermind.
  • Mephisto was due to appear in the proposed second season of the Silver Surfer animated series, with his demonic nature toned down and made acceptable for children.[64] He makes a cameo at the end of the episode "Down to Earth, Part 3".[65]

Film[edit]

  • Mephisto, as Mephistopheles, appears in the 2007 live-action film Ghost Rider, portrayed by Peter Fonda. This version primarily appears in a human form, with glimpses of his true goat-like demonic form appearing throughout the film. He also employs a Ghost Rider as a bounty hunter. Prior to the film's events, he turned Carter Slade into a Ghost Rider in the 1800s to retrieve the Contract of San Venganza, but Slade betrayed Mephistopheles. In 1986, Johnny Blaze makes a deal with Mephistopheles to save the former's father from cancer in return for serving the devil at a future date, only for Blaze's father to die in an accident the next day. In the present, Mephistopheles transforms Blaze into his latest Ghost Rider to hunt down his traitorous son Blackheart before the demon can find the Contract. After receiving help from Slade, Blaze defeats Blackheart and defies Mephistopheles by keeping his Ghost Rider powers instead of returning them despite being offered to have them removed.
    • Mephistopheles as the Devil appears in the sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.[66][67] He appears in the form of a man named Roarke (played by Ciarán Hinds) and fathered a child with a woman named Nadya (played by Violante Placido) after saving her life. Employing Nadya's mercenary ex, Ray Carrigan, Roarke intends to use the boy, Danny (played by Fergus Riorden), as his host and gain full access to his powers on Earth instead of relying on bodies that rapidly decay. However, Blaze defeats Carrigan and protects the boy, who in turn boosts Blaze's powers so he can send the Devil back to Hell.

Video games[edit]

Reception[edit]

Mephisto was ranked #13 on a listing of Marvel Comics' monster characters in 2015.[72]

References[edit]

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  72. ^ Buxton, Marc (October 30, 2015). "Marvel's 31 Best Monsters". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on March 12, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2018. Not really the Biblical devil, Mephisto is a netherworldly tempter, a soul broker, and a liar who pretty much serves the same exact purpose as the Devil but he won’t get Marvel in trouble with Christian conservatives.

External links[edit]