Comics
Published March 19, 2019

Five of the Creepiest Cults in the Marvel Universe

Be on the lookout -- these groups have plans beyond the pamphlets...

Eight issues in and the new West Coast Avengers have already fought their fair share of bad guys. However, there’s no lesson in the Super Hero handbook about handling cults. (There’s also no official Super Hero handbook.) Cults are not new in the Marvel Universe. There’s a spectrum of them, each with their own purpose, ranging from hunting down mutants to summoning an army from another universe to take over the world. In hopes that the WCA figure out the mysterious Temple of the Shifting Sun in WEST COAST AVENGERS #9, let’s look at five other cults that caused some havoc in the Marvel Universe.

Hellfire Cult

Hellfire Cult

First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #500 (2008)

The Hellfire Cult was an offshoot of the Hellfire Club, a club for socialites with very dark intentions prominent in the X-Men universe. The cult was formed by Empath, a mutant, and the Red Queen, who has Empath under mind control. (The Red Queen was none other than Madelyne Pryor, Jean Grey’s clone. It’s a long story – but you can read it on Marvel Unlimited!) The purpose of the cult was to attack any mutants or “species traitors,” humans who liked/interacted with mutants, they came across. Cult members wore pretty uncomfortable-looking, telepath-blocking masks which were also worn by the Hellfire Knights, the security to the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club.

The Hand

The Hand

First Appearance: DAREDEVIL #174 (1981)

These were not just regular ninjas. (Are any ninjas "regular? Maybe not..) Members of the Hand practiced powerful occult magic and worshiped a demon called the Beast. The cult initially started in 1588 as a secret Japanese nationalist samurai group but were later taken over by the Snakeroot, a ninja clan that served the Beast, whose full title was “The Beast of the Hand.” The Hand were based in Japan but worked internationally in organized crime and assassinations. How do they recruit new members? Resurrecting them from the dead, effectively brainwashing them in the process. Whatever happened to having a meeting or handing out leaflets?

The Sight

The Sight

First Appearance: IRON FIST #6 (2017)

The death cult was hired by Choshin, a man who was super bitter about Iron Fist completing the Trial of the Seven Masters, to kill Iron Fist. Their leader, the Seer, controlled members through their minds, turning them into puppets. The more members he possessed, the stronger their “telekinetic abilities.” When the Seer managed to gain control of Shang-Chi, the rest of the members received his knowledge of kung-fu but couldn’t duplicate his training. The Seer had such a hold on his followers that when one of his followers was being chased by Iron Fist and Shang-Chi, they didn’t notice they broke their leg after landing from a high jump. If you see a horde of ghoulish-looking people in white robes, sprint as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

Cult of the Negative Zone

Negative Zone

First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #578 (2010)

This cult was out of this world… literally! They were led by the Anti-Priest and believed organisms in the positive-matter universe would die but would live forever in the Negative Zone. They worshiped Annihilus, the ruler of the Negative Zone. As part of the Annihilation Wave, Annihilus’ army, their goal was to open a portal to the Negative Zone on Earth. Where was the opening for said portal? In the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four. The cult recruited members to purchase businesses around the building and would use devices to create a pathway to Earth for the Annihilation Wave.

Darkholders

Darkholders

First Appearance: AVENGERS #187 (1979)

Ancient users of black magic. Practitioners of the occult. This cult initially started as worshiping the demon Chthon through a magical tome called the Darkhold, which was also called the Book of Sins. (Sounds like a light read!) They were followers of a powerful sorcerer named Thulsa Doom—no relation to Doctor Doom—and once used the Darkhold to create the very first vampire, Varnae. Centuries later, the new generation of Darkholders were hypnotized by Dracula to obtain the Darkhold before Doctor Strange so the vampire could rid himself of his weaknesses. Now you know who to blame for the creation of those deadly bloodsuckers in the Marvel Universe. They were last seen trying to sacrifice Carnage to awaken Chthon, which didn’t go their way and resulted in Carnage getting power from the Darkhold. Not a very smart decision in retrospect.

How will the West Coast Avengers manage the Temple of the Shifting Sun? You’ll have to read WEST COAST AVENGERS #9 to find out!

WEST COAST AVENGERS #9, written by Kelly Thompson with art by Gang Hyuk Lim, goes on sale Wednesday, March 20. You can get your copy online or at your local comic shop!

West Coast Avengers #9 cover

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