Hello again Retro-Horror fanatics! In my last post I mentioned hazy August nights spent encircled by the arms of dark, unending terror. Or, more specifically, how I spent my summers filling my fevered brain with as much horror-themed material as possible! One companion that never let me down on those sweltering nights, when the moon hung fat and swollen in the ebony sky, was Daimon Hellstrom, known to Marvel Zombies as The Son of Satan!
Daimon isn’t the most well-known of Marvel’s pantheon of god like super heroes and dreadful villains, but to me he was the greatest character that comics had ever produced (second only to Ghost Rider, who I promise will be the subject of a future post, and Daimon’s sister, the wicked Satana, who deserves a post of her own as well). Hellstrom was born of an unholy union of mortal woman and none other than Satan himself, albeit in disguise as a mortal (although Marvel would soon get panicky about that creative decision and retcon Daimon’s father into a lesser demon). Daimon and his sister were secretly schooled by their father in the ways of the arcane. Daimon embraced his humanity, while his sister, Satana embraced the dark side. After their mother discovered the true nature of her husband (probably after thinking for more than five seconds about the names of her children), she went insane, Lovecraft style. Soon, Satan was banished and the children were separated, with Daimon ending up in a Jesuit ran orphanage!!! Daimon eventually became a Professor of Anthropology by day, and the worlds fore-most Paranormal investigator by night, kind of like a satanic Buckaroo Banzai (if only they had him join a Kiss like rock group…).
In the pages of Ghost Rider, Marvel Spotlight, and finally his own series, Daimon explored every dark corner of the Marvel universe, all at the hands of some of Marvel’s best writers and artists of the time including, Steve Gerber (Man-Thing), Gene Colon (Tomb of Dracula), and Russ Heath (Two-Gun Kid) . Much of the character’s early popularity can be attributed to the 70’s rampant fascination with all things occult, fostered by the incredible success of William Blatty’s novel The Exorcist, and the film that followed it. On a number of occasions, Daimon himself was called upon to perform exorcisms, most famously in Marvel Spotlight #18 and 19, which strongly echoed the look and feel of The Exorcist film.
The very fact that a mainstream comic company would deal with such subject matter such as Satanism, possession, and occultism in a book primarily aimed at children is astonishing, and would in no way be allowed to happen in today’s overly politically correct climate. Not to mention that the hero of the book, while still struggling to maintain a moral grounding, is often overwhelmed by his demonic side becoming a danger to friend and foe alike (much like the Japanese anti-hero Devilman who appeared at roughly the same time)! This is exactly what appealed to my friends and I. Like everyone, Daimon is neither wholly good nor bad, he is allowed to make mistakes, yet he succeeds by making the right choices. The writers were confident enough to know that children do indeed possess the intellect to understand such concepts.
To see how the concept of a flawed anti-hero who practices arcane rites influenced my own creative endeavors, please check out my debut novella The House of Thirteen Doors on Kindle. If you are interested in experiencing the otherworldly adventures of Daimon and his sister, Satana for yourself, I highly recommend Essential Marvel Horror Volume One which contains all of Daimon’s appearances before he joined seminal 1970’s super group The Defenders. Until next time, stay spooky horror kids!