Just in time for Halloween the Super-Blog Team-Up is back and this time out we’re going to Hell! Our group of bloggers and pod-casters have decided to go to hell so we’ll be writing and talkin’ about demons, devils, and super-hero adventures in the netherrealms. For my journey to Hades I’m going to take a look at Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan himself.
The Daimon Hellstrom first appeared in Ghost Rider #1, 1973, and was quickly spun out to his own story in Marvel Spotlight, issues #12 – 25. The Son of Satan is not just a clever name for a superhero who performs exorcisms and battles demons, in the comics he is literally the spawn of Satan himself, along with his sister Satana. It should be made clear that in this case the Satan being referred to is not the same as the Mephisto character that frequently tangles with other heroes in the Marvel universe. Nope, we’re talking about the big daddy ruler of Hell himself, and his kid, who really has some father issues.
My first experience with Daimon Hellstrom was in the pages of the Defenders, one of the earliest superhero comics I can remember reading. This was when I was still very young and buying comics from the local stationary store after church or school. In those days the Defenders were the greatest non-team of heroes around. Characters like the Hulk, Black Hawk, or the Silver Surfer were routinely brought together to battle some adversary or stop a disaster without having the benefits of an organization like the Fantastic Four or the Avengers. For that reason the characters came and went pretty regularly, which was appealing because they could be rotated in and out of the group pretty regularly and the creators could use folks like Patsy Walker, the Hellcat, or Daimon Hellstrom only when they wanted to.
The reason that I wanted to write about the Son of Satan for this SBTU entry was because he has always felt a little illicit to me, taboo, maybe something not quite appropriate. I should explain that both of my parents are Methodist ministers. They were not fire and brimstone conservative “bible-thumbers” that are often depicted in movies, tvs, and stories. In fact I don’t recall Satan, Hell, or eternal damnation coming up at all on Sunday mornings or in Sunday school when I was growing up. Unlike Bart and Millhouse in The Simpsons, “Bart Sells His Soul”, I was never threatened with my tongue being torn out by ravenous birds while sitting in a lake of fire. And yet despite the lack of fear being instilled in me about the devil I still knew enough that Daimon Hellstrom was different from the Hulk and Silver Surfer.
I have a memory of visiting some Episcople minister friends of our family that had moved to New Jersey, and being in a guestroom where some comics had been left, I’m guessing to amuse my brother and I while the adults did their own thing. In that stack of comics were either issues of Marvel Spotlight or the short lived Son of Satan series because I can remember seeing that big blazing Son of Satan logo and being fascinated by it. I’m not trying to say this all led me down the road to heavy metal music, ritual sacrifice, or devil worshiping, no, it was all harmless comic book fun with a character that I was intrigued by. And it did not last long either. At the time when my brother and I were getting into superhero comics we’d eventually became mostly DC exclusive, reading the All-Star Squadron, Teen Titans, Captain Carrot and the likes. I would not get back into Marvel comics until a few years later when I started checking out Spider-man and Daredevil. I would not revisit the Son of Satan again until I was an adult and the stories became available in reprints and trades, like the one above that came out in 2016. Now, let’s take a look at who the Son of Satan really is, in the excellent facsimile edition of Marvel Spotlight #12.
Marvel Spotlight #12
Writer – Gary Friedrich
Artist – Herb Trimpe
Inker – Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer – J. Costanza
Colorist – Severin (I assume Marie)
Editor – Roy Thomas
The story in this comic picks up directly from events in Ghost Rider issues one and two. Satan is after the soul of Johnny Blaze (the Ghost Rider) and in this effort he has possessed a young Native American woman Linda in order to get to Blaze. Linda’s family has contacted Damien Hellstorm in Massachuestts from an ad they found in the newspaper to help the young woman and perform an exorcism.
I’d like to mention that these stories are from 1975 and came out less than two years after William Freidkin’s The Exorcist made its thrilling debut in the movies. Interest in the horror, the occult, and science fiction was at peak levels and comics were cashing in with loads of great horror comics like Tomb of Dracula and House of Mystery. Now back to our story.
The issue begins with Daimon locked in a room and banging on the door. In Ghost Rider #2 he had asked Linda’s family, the people that called him to save their daughter, to confine him to her room and lock him in a chain of Ankhs until morning. Only now he is demanding freedom in order to complete his tasks. He has transformed from a simple exorcist to the pentagram marked Son of Satan.
He assaults his clients because at this point they think he’s up to no good and is not really going to help Linda. And can you blame them? This guy has no shirt, a tattoo on his chest, a cape and trident. As he explains his actions, trying to tell these folks that he really does want to help he summons his chariot pulled by demonic horses. I hafta say that he’s not going to convince anyone that he really wants to stop Satan when he pulls these kind of shenanigans.
After he leaves Linda’s father and boyfriend he comes across the biker gang that has been harassing Roxanne Simpson, Johnny Blaze’s girlfriend. This also picks up right from the events in Ghost Rider issue number two. After some big talk and trident throwing, Daimon scares off the biker gang. He then tries to comfort Roxanne by telling her how pretty she is and how nice her blond hair is. I guess the Son of Satan expects answers pretty quickly because he suddenly and viciously grabs Roxanne’s hair and demands to know where Satan is. Through her tears she says that Satan was not there, instead it was a woman who called herself Witch Woman and that she took Johnny. Witch Woman must not be the most clever alias because Daimon knows that is one his pappy uses frequently.
Daimon leaves Roxanne on her own in the desert while he does a walkabout eventually finding the gateway to Hell in a plateau. Down he travels to the netherrealm, in the center of the Earth mind you, to find his father, Johnny Blaze, and Linda. Daimon threatens his father despite being on his home turf. They go back and forth a bit until Daimon reminds his dad that he commands the “Sacred Trident – made of Netheran-ium” which will drain Satan’s power. Unlike Oedipus, Daimon is not able to kill his father because while the trident might mean bad news for Satan it does not mean quite as much against the demon horde that Satan commands to stop his son. A battle ensues and eventually the Son of Satan get to “The Bridge” that apparently is the structure holding everything together down here.
Daimon threatens to destroy the bridge which will apparently bring everything crumbling down unless Satan calls off his minions and releases Johnny and Linda. Satan reluctantly agrees and off the three of them go. Satan says that he is disowning Daimon and that he is going come after him so he better sleep with one eye open. Once the trio is topside at the plateau in the desert Daimon once again summons his chariot. He takes off with Johnny and Linda and there is a volcanic eruption from the entrance to hell, sealing it forever, at least at this location. The Son of Satan ditches Johnny and the still unconscious Linda in the desert only thinking to himself that he’ll come back in the morning as mild mannered exorcist Daimon Hellstrom and pick them up.
That concludes the first solo story of the Son of Satan. In the next issue of Marvel Spotlight we’ll learn the awesome origin of Daimon Hellstorm and how someone who looks a lot like Namor the Submariner got his mom pregnant.
Now I had intended to also take a look at Defender’s issue 100, a story where Daimon Hellstorm is pretty helpless from stopping Satan and a possessed Patsy Walker, aka the Hellcat, from defeating the Defenders but I could not find my copy. Instead I’ll wrap things up here. It has been a long time since I was that kid who thought the Son of Satan was a little naughty and taboo and in that time I have since come to think that he was really just a cool character, maybe a little melodramatic, who came about in a time when horror and the occult comics were selling really well. Were the mature themes maybe too much for an eight year old kid? Probably, but I’m sure that most of it went over my head.
By the time I read any of these stories in the late seventies and early eighties horror comic sales were starting to wane. The kids who read these comics when they were on the newstand were getting older, and their interest was turning to things like Dungeons and Dragons and video games. Mazes and Monster came out in 1982 and we were at the beginning of what would be called “the Satanic Panic”. I don’t recall any of the concerns about those kinds of things when I was growing up.
I expect that my parents and the folks who left Defenders and Son of Satan comics laying around thought that young kids could experience them and make their own decisions about how they felt about them. I’ll never really know though, I’ve asked both my parents about those years and they don’t know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t really matter at this point. I turned out okay, I didn’t grow up consumed by a fantasy world that only existed on the pages of a comic book or in the steam tunnels of the university. I think it is a testament to the folks that wrote and drew the Son of Satan in the pages of Ghost Rider, Marvel Spotlight and the Defenders that they came up with stories that made such an impression on me when I was young and that I still find worth reading all these years later.
Now that I’ve concluded my journey to … Hell why not check out the other awesome blogs and podcasts that I’m sure are going to send chills up your spine! Happy Halloween from the Super-Blog Team-Up gang!
Between The Pages Blog – Hostess Comic Book Ads Were Hot Stuff
Magazines and Monsters: Bonus Episode! – Marvel Spotlight 12 & 13 (Damon Hellstrom)- with Charlton Hero!
The Telltale Mind – Patsy Walker – To Hell and Back (and Back and Back…)
Source Material Comics Podcast – Batman/Punisher “Lake of Fire” – Evan Bevins and Jesse Starcher
Mark Radulich: Alternative Commentary on Hell Comes to Frogtown
Ed Moore: News Print Commando Rex Zombie Killler from Bad Dog Ink/Panda Dog Press 2013
Dave’s Comics Blog: Superman: The Blaze/ Satanus War
In My Not So Humble Opinion – Savage Dragon Goes To Hell
Asterisk 51 Blog – Sunday school with… Hellboy?!?!?
Superhero Satellite: Spider-Ham in the world of Licensing Hell!
Relatively Geeky Presents #43: Afterlife with Archie, issues 1 – 6