Meet Mephisto, Marvel’s King of Hell
Who is Mephisto? Read on to learn more about the malevolent menace of Marvel's resident King of Hell.
The Marvel Universe is full of unimaginably powerful villains, but few measure up to the malevolent menace of Mephisto. With a seemingly limitless reservoir of power, endless schemes, and an eternity to watch his plans unfold, this devilish villain is one of the most dangerous threats in the universe, and there’s no telling where he’ll show up next.
As part of Mephisto Month at Marvel, we’re taking a closer look at this dark lord’s history and place in the Marvel Universe, as well as his recent schemes against Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, and the Avengers.
WHO IS MEPHISTO?
While the details of Mephisto’s true origin have been lost to time, he is an ancient extradimensional demon who rules over a part of the netherworld called Hell. Throughout eternity, Mephisto has gone by many names and has drawn on human belief systems to present himself as the embodiment of absolute evil. In his fiery dimension, Mephisto rules over a tortured multitude of demons and condemned human souls. Despite his immense cosmic power, Mephisto tends to work through manipulation by making corrupt deals with desperate humans, which makes him a deeply personal threat to Marvel’s heroes.
However, Mephisto should not be confused with Lucifer. He is only one of several underworld rulers known as the Hell-Lords, a group that has included Hela – the longtime ruler of Niffleheim’s Hel – and Pluto, the ruler of Hades. Mephisto is also the father of Blackheart and Mephista, who are both powerful demonic villains.
MEPHISTO VS. THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
While Mephisto is old enough to have menaced the prehistoric Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C., he officially debuted in SILVER SURFER (1968) #3 by Stan Lee, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott. Mephisto became fascinated with the Surfer’s power and noble spirit. To corrupt the former Herald of Galactus, Mephisto tempted him with a reunion with his lost love Shalla-Bal. However, the Surfer resisted Mephisto’s temptations, as he would in their subsequent encounters.
In addition to making several similar attempts to tempt and corrupt Thor, Mephisto tortured those who made deals with him with uniquely cruel torments. For instance, under another name, Mephisto made a deal with Johnny Blaze that saw the motorcycle stunt driver bonded to the fiery demon Zarathos, transforming him into Ghost Rider in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #5 by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog. In his only titular role, Mephisto struck deals with several heroes for a complex plot against Thor in MEPHISTO VS (1987) by Al Milgrom, John Buscema, and Bob Wiacek.
Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, unwittingly used parts of Mephisto’s soul to give birth to her twins, Tommy and Billy. Mephisto absorbed the twins to restore his power in AVENGERS WEST COAST (1985) #52 by John Byrne and Mike Machlan. While the twins were eventually reborn as the Young Avengers’ Speed and Wiccan, the lingering trauma over this event eventually led an unstable Wanda to fracture reality during HOUSE OF M (2005).
ONE MORE DAY AND MEPHISTO DETHRONED
Despite his cosmic ambitions, Mephisto made his most infamous deal with Spider-Man in 2007’s “One More Day” storyline by Joe Quesada, J. Michael Straczynski, and Danny Miki. When Spider-Man unmasked himself during CIVIL WAR (2006), Kingpin ordered a hit on Peter Parker that left Aunt May fatally wounded. After exhausting all other options, Peter and Mary Jane made a deal with Mephisto to save May’s life by erasing their marriage as well as public knowledge of his secret identity in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1999) #545. He even tortured the couple more by showing them a vision of the child they could have had together. Although Mephisto told Peter and MJ that he was interested in corrupting their uncommonly pure love, he also had a vision that their daughter would grow up to play a critical role in his final defeat.
Although his deal with Spider-Man was one of his proudest victories, Mephisto suffered several major defeats in its wake. He was briefly deposed as King of Hell by the mutant hero Strong Guy. With help from the Thunderbolts, who were trapped in Hell, Mephisto restored himself to the throne. He later tried to take over Las Vegas in the chaotic aftermath of SECRET EMPIRE (2017). To exert his corrupting influence over the city, he created the Hotel Inferno, a physical manifestation of his power.
While fighting Johnny Blaze, he freed the Ghost Rider from Zarathos’ curse and killed him in DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION (2018) #3 by Donny Cates, Nick Spencer, and Szymon Kudranski. When his spirit was sent to Hell, Blaze revealed his true plans and quickly took over Mephisto’s empty throne to become Hell’s new king. Thanks to the combined efforts of Blaze, Doctor Strange, and the Midnight Sons, Mephisto was locked out of Hell and imprisoned on Earth in the Hotel Inferno.
MEPHISTO AND THE KINDRED
Throughout Mephisto’s imprisonment, Blaze tried to maintain order in Hell and round up demons who were loose on Earth, all while preparing to stop Mephisto’s former ally, Lilith, from taking over. Upon realizing that Lilith’s ambitions would eventually turn to Earth, Blaze reluctantly agreed to let Mephisto reclaim his Hell throne and hold Lilith off in KING IN BLACK: GHOST RIDER (2021) #1 by Ed Brisson and Juan Frigeri.
When he discovered that Peter Parker and Mary Jane had started to reconcile in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2018) #1 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos, and Cliff Rathburn, Mephisto turned his attention to Spider-Man once again. Additionally, Norman Osborn learned he had secretly made a deal with Mephisto decades earlier, which had resulted in his financial success and sent him on the path to becoming the Green Goblin. However, this deal cost the soul of Harry Osborn, who suffered a life filled with tragedy because of their agreement. Mephisto empowered Gabriel and Sarah Stacy – who were genetically engineered using the DNA of Norman and Gwen Stacy – with demonic abilities and Harry’s memories. For months, the Stacy siblings tortured Spider-Man both as the mysterious villain Kindred and while posing as Harry.
As part of a complex plan to crush Spider-Man’s spirit, the Kindreds recruited villains like Mysterio and the Sin-Eater before orchestrating the events of SINISTER WAR (2021), which saw the web-slinger tangle with dozens of feuding villains. As this all played out, Doctor Strange realized Mephisto had manipulated Spider-Man’s soul and confronted the Hell Lord. Strange and Mephisto wagered on the ultimate outcome of Spider-Man’s fight with the Kindred, and Peter’s victory freed his soul, Harry’s soul, and the Stacy siblings from Mephisto.
MEPHISTO’S MULTIVERSE WAR ON THE AVENGERS
While imprisoned in the Hotel Inferno, Mephisto took a renewed interest in the Avengers and started a lengthy campaign against them. In a sequence from AVENGERS (2018) #10, Mephisto resurrected Phil Coulson with a new, profound hatred of the Avengers and created the Squadron Supreme of America, a government-sanctioned team modeled after the Avengers’ alternate reality enemies. During 2020’s “Age of Khonshu” storyline by Jason Aaron and Javier Garrón, Khonshu had a haunting vision of Mephisto’s plans and preemptively took over the world. After Moon Knight killed Mephisto, several Multiversal variants of Mephisto unsuccessfully challenged Khonshu.
After Moon Knight turned against Khonshu and helped the Avengers defeat him, Iron Man realized the Multiversal scope of Mephisto’s ambitions in AVENGERS (2018) #38 by Aaron, Ed McGuinness, and Mark Morales. As Mephisto declared himself to be the Avengers’ ultimate enemy, a corrupted alternate reality variant of Howard Stark – Tony’s father – helped the demon regain his power.
In HEROES REBORN (2021), Agent Coulson drew on Mephisto’s restored power and used the Pandemonium Cube to create a world where his Squadron had supplanted the Avengers as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Although Coulson was ultimately defeated, Mephisto used this incident to show the Council of Red, a group of Mephisto variants from across the Multiverse, how much damage they could do.
Mephisto subsequently doubled down on his multi-pronged attack on the Avengers throughout the Multiverse and the timeline. In AVENGERS (2018) #50, Mephisto inspired Doom Supreme, a Doctor Doom variant and Sorcerer Supreme who preys on other Doctor Doom variants, to create the Multiversal Masters of Evil and conquer the Multiverse by targeting dimensions in their prehistoric infancy. As that plays out in AVENGERS FOREVER (2021), Mephisto and his other 615 counterparts on the Council of Red declared war on the Multiverse in AVENGERS (2018) #55 by Aaron and Garrón. Meanwhile, on Earth-616, Mephisto and his allies have started attacking heroes in multiple eras throughout the timestream in AVENGERS (2018).
With these ongoing plots continuing through AVENGERS (2018) and AVENGERS FOREVER (2021), Mephisto is in the middle of his most destructive attack ever, and he seems set to prove why he really is the Avengers’ ultimate nemesis.
Mephisto Month has just begun! Stay tuned on Marvel.com to see more of this malevolent menace throughout the month of October.
You can grab these comics and more digitally or at your favorite local comic book shop. Be sure to ask your local shop about their current business policies to observe social distancing or other services they may offer, including holding or creating pull lists, curbside pick-ups, special deliveries, and other options to accommodate. Find and support your local comic book shop at ComicShopLocator.com or by visiting Marvel.com/LoveComicShops.
For digital comics, all purchases in the Marvel Comics app can be read on iPhone®, iPad® and select Android™ devices! Our smart-paneling feature provides an intuitive reader experience, ideal for all types of mobile device and tablet users! Download the app on iOS and Android now!
The Hype Box
Can’t-miss news and updates from across the Marvel Universe!