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
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 responsible for Harry and Norman Osborn's respective transformations into the Green Goblin and Kindred; and for the superhero's loss of his marriage with Mary-Jane Watson. 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

Inspired by Mephistopheles of the Faust legend,[2] 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,[3] 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."[4]

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,[5] 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."[6] 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.[7]

Fictional character biography

Introduction (1960s–1970s)

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.[8] 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.[9] Mephisto refers to his domain as Hell.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

Secret Wars II, 1980s and Infinity Gauntlet

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.[14]

Mephisto later creates his 'son' Blackheart, a demonic entity that plagues many of Earth's heroes.[15] 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.[16][17] 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.[18]

Mephisto also tries to destroy the Avenger Hawkeye when he enters Hell to try to save the soul of his deceased wife, Mockingbird.[19]

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

Alongside the Grim Reaper, Blackheart brings Wonder Man to Mephisto's realm to battle Mephisto.[20]

In a series of confrontations that also involve Ghost Rider, Punisher and Wolverine, Blackheart kills Mephisto and takes over his portion of Hell.[21][22] Mephisto survives, although as more of a ghostly apparition (claiming he'd been denied a place in both heaven and hell), and for a time tricks the Silver Surfer into believing he was dead so as to collect his soul and thus perhaps regain his former power, but Surfer refutes him and with his allies defeat Mephisto, resulting in his spirit form being seemingly destroyed.[23]

Mephisto again survives death and soon finds himself with access to another universe: the Earth of the Top Cow universe. Seeking to torment an entirely new world of superheroes, he plots to enter this world and remake it for his own dark desires. But Eternity senses this cosmic disruption and sends several heroes (Jennifer Kale, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Silver Surfer and Elektra) to that universe to aid a group of Top Cow heroes (Witchblade, Weapon Zero, Cyblade and Ballistic) to combat & ultimately defeat Mephisto. However his resulting banishment back to Earth-616 seemed to restore him as a tangible physical threat, though without his elevated place of Hellish power, and he would torment heroes for some years to come like Nighthawk,[24] T'Challa the Black Panther,[25] the Slingers,[26] Hellcat[27] and Magik.[28]

2000s

Mephisto steals Peter and Mary Jane's marriage.
Mephisto steals Peter and Mary Jane's marriage.

One More Day

Mephisto 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;[29] the alteration of the timeline retcons details of Harry's death being faked by his father.[30]

2010s

"Siege"

Main article: Siege (comics)

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.[31] 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.[32]

"Fear Itself"

Main article: Fear Itself (comics)

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.[33] 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.[34] Magma later confided to Blink that she has subsequently seen Mephisto again, but wishes to keep it secret.[35] 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.[36]

Mephisto briefly appears to assist Deadpool in destroying one of his demon lieutenants,[37] before taking a major part in the Hell On Earth War,[38] where he is defeated and replaced by X-Factor member Strong Guy as ruler of Hell.[39]

Remaining Era

When the Thunderbolts were accidentally transported to Hell, Mephisto took the opportunity to give them a way out if they defeated Strong Guy.[40] 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.[41]

New Multiverse

Mephisto is revealed to have assumed the form of the Maker to try to prevent Victor von Doom from redeeming his soul.[42]

"Damnation"

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.[43] 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.[44] Mephisto then turns Doctor Strange into a Ghost Rider-like creature.[45] After Mephisto removes the Ghost Rider from Johnny Blaze, he throws Blaze from the roof.[46] 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.[47]

In an alternate future where Thanos conquered the universe, Frank Castle signs a demonic deal with Mephisto to become a Ghost Rider,[48] 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.[49] 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.[50]

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.[51] 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.[52]

"War of the Realms"

Main article: War of the Realms

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.[53]

Spider-Geddon's Aftermath

Main article: Superior Spider-Man

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.[54]

2020s

"Heroes Reborn"

Main article: Heroes Reborn (2021 comic)

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.[55] 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.[56] 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.[57]

"Sinister War"

Main article: Sinister War

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.[58] 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 the Kindred Twins (the souls of Sarah and Gabriel, clones previously created by a temporarily insane Harry when he was alive and a posthumous A.I. of him to pose as the children of his father and Gwen Stacy, merged with the A.I. in physical demonic forms) 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. Doctor Strange then strikes a deal with Mephisto to have Harry's soul returned to the body of his clone as the clone is dying, alongside the Kindred Twins.[59]

Using the Multiversal Masters of Evil

At the time when a version of Doctor Doom named Doom Supreme watched the Prehistoric Avengers send Kid Thanos back to his own time, Mephisto approached Doom Supreme and suggested to him that he puts together a team that would defeat any team of Avengers. Doom Supreme took Mephisto's offer and formd a Multiversal version of the Masters of Evil consisting of Kid Thanos, a version of Dark Phoenix and her pet Berserkers, a version of Erik Killmonger called King Killmonger, a version of Green Goblin with Ghost Rider-like powers called Ghost Goblin, and Black Skull. Due to their agreement with the Council of Reds, they had to save Earth-616 for last. After each of the attacks from the Multiversal Masters of Evil, Doom Supreme and Kid Thanos meet up with Iron Inquisitor and Mephisto in the form of a dog as he nears the corpse of Orb. Under Mephisto's orders, Doom Supreme unburn Uatu's eye fragment and puts it in his own eye. As Doom Supreme and Kid Thanos enter a portal to meet with their teammates and get back to work, Mephisto and Iron Inquisitor talk about what to do with the Multiversal Masters of Evil as Mephisto's dog form eats at the fragments of Uatu's eye. Then he has Orb's corpse dumped into the ocean.[60]

The Serpent Society later performed a ritual to summon the "serpent" that they worshiped by taking some lives of the people in the Serpent Solutions' old headquarters. When the Avengers arrive and found that Nighthawk defeated them, the portal that formed during the ritual summons Mephisto's dog form as it was mentioned by Nighthawk that the serpent was one of Mephisto's forms. Before assuming his true form and retreating, Mephisto makes the Council of Red known to the Avengers.[61]

Powers and abilities

Mephisto is an extremely powerful immortal demonic entity possessing abilities used by manipulating the forces of magic. Mephisto can employ his power for a variety of uses, including superhuman strength, shape and size shifting,[62] projecting illusions,[63] manipulating memories,[64] and altering time.[65] He is also highly resistant to injury.[66]

The character has been shown to be energized by sources of evil in the human realm, such as the alien Dire Wraiths.[67] 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.[68] Within it he has threatened a galaxy, and stalemated a nourished Galactus until the latter threatened to consume his realm.[69] If Mephisto's physical form is destroyed, the character will regenerate and reform in his domain.[70]

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.[71]

Other versions

Guardians of the Galaxy

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

Universe X

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.[72] 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.[73]

Ultimate Marvel

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."[74]

Marvel Mangaverse

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

Marvel Zombies: Halloween

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.[75]

In other media

Television

Mastermind creates illusions of Mephisto, Psyklop, Zarathos and Annihilus in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Mastermind creates illusions of Mephisto, Psyklop, Zarathos and Annihilus in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

Film

Video games

Reception

Mephisto was ranked #13 on a listing of Marvel Comics' monster characters in 2015.[85]

References

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