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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Truth about Evil

A decade worth of subplots culminated in Defenders #111, when Hellcat learned the nature of evil within the gates of hell.

Reinforcing earlier stories, the issue described how Mephisto and several other extra-dimensional antagonists in the Marvel Universe were in fact separate aspects of Satan. But what exactly did that mean?

Satan: We are not independent entities who have sprung into being of our own volition … we are the creations of humanity itself! Physical projections of mankind's collective unconscious! We exist because man exists! We are, in truth his dark side given flesh!

When Hellcat questioned how these claims fit into the Bible, the devil delivered an agnostic reply.
Satan: Ah yes--the Bible. The story of the Angel Lucifer who was cast out of heaven by an angry God. It was from that story that I took my current name … the better to be what man wants me to be! But I am not that Satan--if indeed such a being does exists.

This explanation came as a relief to me, as it distanced the demons of theology from the demons of comics, making them more palatable in a way. It also helped sidestep arguments about religious interpretation. Daimon Hellstrom's hellspawn heritage was no more a reflection of Christianity than Valkyrie's Asgardian roots were bound by traditional Norse mythology.
Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 111. September 1982. "Fathers and Daughters." J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Don Perlin (breakdowns), A. Mushynski (finishes), Shelly Leferman (letterer), George Roussos (colorist), Allen Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief).

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