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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Bit More About Marvel's Darkhold Book of Sins!

It has come around to yet another season of ghastly ghouls, haunting specters and ghosts, growling beasts that prowl the night, creepy crawlers, psycho killers, and demons looking to terrorize the unsuspecting.

Yep, Halloween is again upon us, and despite the fact that I need to figure out what I'm going to be this year again, Agents of Shield season four premiered our first look at the new Ghost Rider and featured the Darkhold. Yes, the Darkhold.

You know, the Darkhold that I talked about a few times and how it tied together characters like Dracula, Blade and Werewolf by Night. Speaking of the fury fanged one, the Darkhold actually first appeared in a Werewolf by Night story in Marvel Spotlight #4. It was first mentioned in Marvel Spotlight #3.

While the Agents of Shield show seemed to tie the Darkhold to Ghost Rider and some ghastly ghosts, the comics were very much different and Ghost Rider's origin wasn't directly tied to this Book of Sins. This is a different Ghost Rider, however.

Yes, this is the Robbie Reyes version and is not possessed by the demon  Zarathos like the Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch versions prior. Instead, the Robbie Reyes version in the comics is possessed by a spirit named Eli. Instead of motorcycle, Eli inhabits a pretty awesome Dodge Charger.

Both Robbie Reyes and the spirit of Eli first debuted in All-New Ghost Rider #1, and Eli is revealed to be Elias Morrow and Reyes' satanic, serial killer uncle later in the comics. However, the show already did present an uncle, and the spirit possessing Reyes does not seem to be his uncle. 

So the show is deviating a bit from the comics. Maybe even a lot. 

Somehow Reyes's Ghost Rider is tied to the Darkhold, and there are a group of ghostly scientists involved as well. Some scandalous mystery surrounds the bunch and they believe the Darkhold can help or fix them.

I'm not quite sure where the hell they are going with this, but now I'm pretty interested. Interesting way to introduce the supernatural side of things in the MCU.

Okay, besides the show and which we all know will twist things around so they barely make much sense to fans of the actual comics, the Darkhold is a book of the darkest and most evil spells in the Marvel Universe.

The Elder Demonic God Chthon wrote and collected all his spells into one book before having to flee Earth from Demogorge. However, he left this book on Earth.

The book was to serve as a conduit to the Earth-Realm so Chthon could always exact his influence and power. The Darkhold is thought of to be the anti-thesis of the Book of the Vishanti, connecting it to some Doctor Strange there.

Chthon made his debut as an entity called The Other in Marvel Chillers #2. Some sources say it's in Marvel Chillers #1, but if that's so, then Chthon only shows up in flashback and as a serpent-like billow of smoke. He is neither named nor referred to in Marvel Chillers #1, but the character is definitely called The Other in Marvel Chillers #2. 

Modred the Mystic is tied to Chthon in the Avengers comics, in which he is corrupted by the demonic lord of the Darkhold. Although called The Other in Marvel Chillers, it is the same Chthon in later comics since Modred's stories in those two Chillers' issues does mention the Darkhold quite often.

Speaking of Avengers, the demon would next appear and supposedly make his first debut as Chthon in the superhero world in Avengers #186 according to some sources. However, Scarlet Witch is possessed by Chthon in that issue. He doesn't really appear as himself. 

His origin and connection to the Darkhold is revealed in Avengers #187, but he only shows up in one panel in what seems to be his true form during those earlier appearances.

Chthon in Avengers #187 volume 1

Chthon has taken other forms in his earlier appearances in comics though. In Spider-Woman #44 he looks quite different, but in Thor Annual #10, he is shown again as he appears in Avengers #187. Then again, the fool is a demon, so I'm sure he can take various forms and shapes. After all, he was supposedly black smoke Marvel Chillers #1 and some kind of large bulb of light that turned into some kind of huge bolt of lightening or energy in Marvel Chillers #2.

Chthon in Spider-Woman #44 volume 1
Chthon in Thor Annual #10 volume 1

But back to some horror. As I've explained before concerning the Marvel Universe, the Book of Sins was used to create the first vampire who is a bloodsucker by the name of Varnae. The first of the Vampires also created Dracula, the one from the Tomb of Dracula comics.

Varnae was introduced in 1982 in the horror magazine Bizarre Adventures #33. His debut was in the Dracula story "Tomb of Dracula: The Blood Request!" of that issue.

In this issue, we are taken to a time around 1459. Tired of immortality, Varnae would select Count Dracula to be his successor as Lord of all Vampires. Dracula drank his blood, and Marvel history was made. 

That story in this magazine issue came out in 1982, quite a bit after Dracula's first appearance in Tomb of Dracula #1 back in April of 1972. This origin story in Bizarre Adventures #33 definitely contradicts the origin story told in Dracula Lives! #2 from September, 1973.

Dracula Lives! #2 reveals that Vlad the Impaler is gravely wounded by Turac and his invading Turkish army.

Seeing Vlad more useful alive and in their control than dead, they then take the dying Vlad to a gypsy woman named Lianda who is known for her healing powers. Unbeknownst to them, Lianda is a vampire and feeds on Vlad. We all know what happens after.

So, a bit of a mess concerning Dracula's origin, but we are talking about Varnae here. Varnae supposedly committed suicide by walking into the sunlight in that issue of Bizarre Adventers #33, so it's a first and death of the character...sort of.

But as with most comic characters, Varnae would come back and in quite some odd comics. As strange as it sounds, the character would even be connected to the Hyborian Age in Marvel Comics.

If you didn't know, the Hyborian Age is linked to Conan, Kull, and Red Sonja. Uh, yeah, those characters.

The character would show up in the Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme comic series and Conan the Barbarian #245. Actually, Varnae's origin was revealed in Conan the Barbarian #245.

In Conan the Barbarian #245, Varnae was part of the Darkholder cult before Atlantis sunk into the ocean. Gravely injured by Kull, sorcerers used the Darkhold to save his life and turned him into the very first vampire.

This origin makes no mention of the events that take place in the horror magazine Bizarre Adventures #33, but both issues do connect the mythological city of Atlantis. I'm guessing this story is still based off Varnae's early Atlantean origins also referenced in the 1982 horror mag.
We also know that this Book of Sins also was responsible for the curse of the werewolf, most notably Jack Russell as Werewolf by Night. The fanged prowler first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #2 and also has connections to Dracula via his ancestor Grigori Russoff back in the 18th century.

In Transylvania, Grigori's wife was slain by Dracula and Grigori got his revenge on the blood sucker. However, shortly after, he was bitten by the werewolf Lydia who was imprisoned by Dracula.

Jack Russell learns of his history in Grigori's dairy in the pages of Werewolf by Night #15, which also features the first appearance of Grigori in flashback and a 2nd clash between the Lord of Vampires and the full moon howler. This issue is a continuation of the story beginning in Tomb of Dracula #18 which has the first confrontation between Dracula and Werewolf by Night.

Grigori's story would begin the curse of the Russof family, who later anglicized their name to Russell after moving to the United States. The curse of the werewolf would surface in Jack Russell when he turned 18 years old. The origin of Jack Russell and that of his father Gregory Russell is detailed in Werewolf by Night's 1st appearance in Marvel Spotlight #2, but it obviously makes no mention of the Darkhold.

Jack Russell also discovers that his had father kept a journal, but is unable to decipher it. Not until Werewolf by Night #3 is it revealed that Jack's father had come into the possession of the Darkhold and it released the dormant curse of the werewolf within him. The further origin of Werewolf by Night and the Darkhold is told by Father Joquez, a monk who possessed by the 12th century monk Aelfric.

In the comics, it is clear that the Darkhold book is ancient, surviving the fictional period of the Hyborian Age around 10,000 B.C.E. through the Middle Ages until present time. Whether the MCU actually taps into the comics' long history of the Darkhold is still up in the air. Some reports have said the upcoming Doctor Strange flick will shed more light on the Darkhold that Agents of Shield doesn't cover.

So with the Darkhold and Marvel kicking off their supernatural side of things in Agents of Shield season four, a lot of speculation and excitement is being yapped about. We've seen Ghost Rider and ghosts for that matter, but will we start to see some vampires and werewolves since the Darkhold has finally made it's on-screen debut?

If so, will a certain day walker and vampire hunter by the name of Blade be returning to the MCU as well? It might be reaching, but still fun to think about.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mayhem,

    thanx for the sleepers. I just bagged the first appearance of Squirrel girl for 50 and I wanted to point out a few things that could make this comic a top notch investment. Since the talk is all about rarity these days, a first appearance with low print numbers is always a hot commodity. I don' t know the exact printing rate, but there are a few things which let me assume it' s low. First, it is a "winter special", which shouldn' t be to highly ordered. Second, it' s a relatively pricy 80 page special for 2.25 $ and last but not least it' s actually a no name series with less interest. All in all, if Marvel makes something of that character, this book is a winner. Unslapped people allready want up to 100 bucks for it. So, it' s my recommendation of the day.