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Published November 16, 2021

A Brief History of the Darkhold

Open the Book of the Damned, if you dare...

If you’ve had your eye on the Marvel Universe lately, you’ve seen some of your favorite heroes getting the Darkhold treatment, from Iron Man to Blade to Black Bolt and, on November 17, the Wasp...

The Darkhold: Wasp (2021) #1

But what exactly is the Darkhold, and why is it so powerful? Let’s take a look at the history of this dark tome.

The Darkhold, AKA the Book of the Damned, is ancient and evil. It contains powerful dark magic spells and is considered the most potent record of dark magic. It’s said that anyone who reads it will lose their mind...or their soul.

Billions of years ago, the Elder God Chthon transcribed his most repugnant and terrifying spells on indestructible parchment—these scrolls were later brought together in the volume that would become known as the Darkhold. Other spell books, like the Necronomicon, took inspiration from it. Chthon left the book on Earth so that it could serve as a conduit for him to exercise his influence over the realm.

Doctor Strange (1974) #60

Doctor Strange (1974) #60

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It’s a well-traveled book, and it has been at the center of more than its fair share of dramatic episodes over the centuries. For example, it was used to create the first vampire. Back when Atlantis was still above water, a warrior named Kull killed the dark sorcerer Thulsa Doom. Doom’s followers, the Darkholders, then used a spell from the book to create Varnae, the first vampire. But, as one would expect of a creature of the night, Varnae turned on his creators when they tried to command him and used the book to start creating more vampires. There were also points in the Darkhold’s history when it was used in attempts to destroy the vampire kind.

In the following centuries, the book was passed through the hands of sages, priests, and scholars. By the Middle Ages, Mephisto was using it to imprison a demon named Darklove.

By the 17th century, the Vatican had custody of the book. Dracula sent a thief to steal it from him, but that didn’t exactly go as planned—and the sorcerer Cagliostro ended up with it instead.

The intrigue surrounding the book hasn’t died down in more recent times. In the 1920s, a group of archaeologists were rendered insane when they tried to translate hieroglyphics relating to the book.

Werewolf By Night (1972) #1

Werewolf By Night (1972) #1

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And that’s just one example of the might of the text within the Book of the Damned. Around 1930, a man named Gregor Russoff, ancestor of Jack Russell (AKA Werewolf by Night), acquired the book. Accounts of how it found its way to his hands vary, with some saying he bought it and others claiming he purloined it from a sorcerer. Either way, it contained information about the origins of werewolves. When Gregor read it, he became a werewolf himself. In 1958, Russoff raised Chthon, hoping he would cure him of his affliction. Instead, Chthon struck out at him, apparently killing him at the time, but Russoff managed to survive.

Throughout the 20th century, the Darkhold was sought after by Red Skull, Nick Fury, and a cast of other notable individuals. Doctor Doom located a part of it at one point. In addition, Interpol agent Sam Buchanan, occultist Dr. Louise Hastings, and Victoria Montesi—whose family was historically tasked with safeguarding the book—sought out the tome and managed to collect a number of its pages.

Carnage (2015) #4

Carnage (2015) #4

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In the 21st century, modern day Darkholders became interested in Carnage, thinking he played a part in a prophecy they were interested in. They tried to sacrifice him to awaken Chthon...but this being dark magic, things went sideways and Carnage somehow became empowered by the Elder God.

After that, the book found its way to Baron Zemo, who used the book to engulf Manhattan in a shroud of Darkforce shadows.

To read more about the history of the Darkhold in the Marvel Universe, take a look at this Marvel Unlimited reading list. And to follow the most recent events surrounding the book and how it affects the Scarlet Witch, Doctor Doom, and others, follow THE DARKHOLD ALPHA, THE DARKHOLD: IRON MAN, BLACK BOLT, and BLADE...

And read the next chapter at your local comic shop with THE DARKHOLD: WASP #1!

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