Welcome to Horror Unlimited! Comic books are a wide-ranged world full of confusing plot lines that include (but are no means limited to) time traveling, relatives from the past, future and other universes, alien races, and an infinite number of mutants, superheroes and villains, and wacky soap opera antics. Somewhere, in the middle of this, horror is alive and well inside the medium.
Horror Unlimited is a column that will take advantage of the Marvel Unlimited comic subscription service to unearth and highlight Marvel horror titles, characters, and storylines. Then, after a look at the weekly spotlight, suggesting a title outside of the Marvel universe to pair with it.
So I discussed this in the first entry of Horror Unlimited, but I’ll touch back on it; When the Comics Code Authority loosed up in 1971, Marvel took full advantage and started dropping supernatural characters right and left. It was a prime era for antiheroes, these beings afflicted by some sort of supernatural malady that still had something inside them that had them championing for good. Whether it was the animalistic instincts of Werewolf by Night or the vengeful adventures of Ghost Rider, these heroes were plagued by the paranormal and Marvel was running with it. No character was a straight affront to the cause more than The Son of Satan.
I mean, look at it. The name SATAN was right there! The name of the character!
Okay, so he’s the son of Satan…kind of. There’s a really long story that we don’t need to dive into right now but, for the sake of this column, he is. While indeed the son of Satan, who is just one of many demonic royalty figures in the Marvel Universe, Daimon Hellstrom (just one letter eschewed from being HELLSTORM, a codename he would take up in life) was born to Victoria Wingate.
Get this: Victoria married Satan, and depending who is writing the story it could be a minor king of hell named Satannish or another demon who takes human guise as Marduk Kurios. But nonetheless, she had two children: Daimon and Satana. And even though those were their names, and Daimon was born with a pentagram shaped birthmark smack dab in the middle of his incredibly muscular chest, Victoria had no idea that her husband may somehow be involved in the occult.
Now hold onto your butts, readers, because this is where it gets weird. Well, weirder.
Victoria finds out who her husband is (Satan, remember?) and loses her mind. Satan takes Satana with him to learn dark magic in Hell but Daimon is closer to his human ties, so he ends up being raised by Jesuit monks. Eventually thanks to his mother’s diary and inheriting his home in Massachusetts, Daimon discovers who his father is and that he can tap into his “dark soul,” giving him different mystical abilities such as super strength, projecting soulfire from his trident, sensing the supernatural, and a vast knowledge of spells. Daimon finds his way to the basement where, you guessed it, he also finds a door into Hell. There, he confronts his father and, after defeating him, decides to spend his time earthside battling his evil progenitor’s spawn.
Created by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich for an appearance in Ghost Rider then a run in Marvel Spotlight, Son of Satan was given his own comic after strong sales. So in 1975, John Warner and Jim Mooney gave him his own book with Son of Satan #1.
It’s full of purple prose and bounces around so incoherently between plots and villains that it’s hard to keep track of everything. It moves at the speed of a locomotive and never brakes, throwing reads in at full tilt. Where many titles of the era spent a lot of time in expository messaging, Warner instead details his scenarios in Tolkien-esque intricacy as Mooney attacks the visuals with angles and aspect ratios that will send your head spinning. It’s a wild ride and Marvel truly didn’t give a fuck. We’re taken to Hell. Demons are hanging out around Satan’s feet talking about things they did to Victoria. We get stereotyped Native American characters. It’s absolutely problematic but it’s definitely never dull.
If you’re having some fun with The Son of Satan, I highly suggest you check out another son of a devil. And yes, I’m going easy here and telling you that you need to read Hellboy.
The right hand of doom, created by Mike Mignola, got his own series from Dark Horse Comics in 1994. Written and drawn by Mignola, Hellboy is one of the most intriguing, interesting characters to exist in comics. Mignola bases almost all of his stories off of real occult and Eastern European folklore, although he’s not averse to traipsing through some other global mythology, but puts his own pulp spin on it. It’s not just that Hellboy is a ridiculously fun character, a neo-noir hero who has a penchant for one-liners and misadventures, it’s his surrounding cast that really keeps things interesting. Whether it’s Lovecraftian inspired other-dimensional demons or his own classy ass fishman co-workers, Hellboy is hands down one of the best comics you can find today.