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Back Issues: However you spell it, Hellstrom hits Hulu

Character went by Son of Satan for years

While we’re still waiting on the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to push through pandemic delays, a series inspired by one of the company’s more obscure characters sneaked onto Hulu in time for Halloween.

“Helstrom” is based on Daimon Hellstrom, who was created after an editor convinced Marvel icon Stan Lee that the ideal follow-up to the company’s popular “Tomb of Dracula” series was not, in fact, a comic starring Satan.

According to an account by Comic Book Resources’ Brian Cronin, editor Roy Thomas instead talked Lee into a feature about the Devil’s rebellious offspring. After debuting as an exorcist in 1973’s “Ghost Rider” #1, he graduated to his own feature as the Son of Satan in “Marvel Spotlight” #12.

Hellstrom (apparently Hulu dropped an “L”) is the son of a human woman who was driven mad when she saw the true face of his father, the Devil. Well, he was a devil. Marvel has several demons who claim the title, and the identity of Daimon’s dad has shifted over time. How much his mother knew about her husband’s true nature has also changed over the years.

The half-demon child was raised in an orphanage and studied to become a priest before learning of his true nature after his mother’s death. He confronted his father, refused to join him and stole his trident and fiery chariot in the process.

As superhero origins go, it ain’t exactly getting bitten by a radioactive spider.

Hellstrom carried his own “Son of Satan” title for eight issues and teamed up with characters like Ghost Rider, the Defenders and Howard the Duck, briefly empowering the latter with his own Darksoul.

A later series recast him as “Hellstorm,” which is how I read the name when I first encountered him in 1989’s “West Coast Avengers” #41. There, he tried to exorcise the ghost of the wild west Phantom Rider that was haunting Mockingbird. He went a little overboard, casting out the original Phantom Rider from his descendant and the Egyptian god Khonshu from Moon Knight, who was just there for moral support. That led to a battle with other supernatural forces in one of the most memorable comics of my youth.

Despite being played as a hero for years, Hellstrom stories held little appeal for me. As with the “Lucifer” comic and TV series, this is not a character I’ve intentionally followed because, with apologies to the Rolling Stones, I lack sympathy for the devil.

My favorite character in his orbit is longtime Defenders member Hellcat, who you may not remember as Patsy Walker, Jessica Jones’ Netflix bestie who gained powers of her own and went down a rather dark path in season 3.

In the comics, she married Hellstrom and went mad after helping restore his lost powers in a bid to save his life. She was later talked into committing suicide by a cosmic entity called Deathurge, but Hellstrom manipulated a team called the Thunderbolts into returning her to the land of the living. Patsy regained her fun-loving nature while her ex went increasingly evil, eventually taking over (one version of) Hell and being, I guess, better than the actual devil by default.

Hellstrom has a sister named Satana, who, perhaps due to being even less subtly named than Daimon Hellstrom, followed more in her father’s footsteps. She, too, has flirted with heroics here and there.

Both siblings are featured in the TV show, which, at least at first, identifies their father as a notorious serial killer. I haven’t watched yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn there’s more to his story.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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Recommended Reading

Marvel may pop up with some Hellstrom/Son of Satan trades if the show gets a good reception. But since I’m not a fan and haven’t read many of his adventures, I’ll suggest a few related comics I enjoyed:

* “Defenders” Vol. 1 — I’ve recommended these before and probably will again. This terrific series from the ’70s started out featuring Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Namor and Silver Surfer and expanded to include Hellcat and, occasionally, Hellstrom, in a series of offbeat adventures.

* “West Coast Avengers” #41 — This one’s in the category I affectionately refer to as “kitchen sink issues,” where a whole bunch of crazy happens. But fair warning, there is a mature aspect to the Phantom Rider story that went over my head as a kid.

* “Patsy Walker: Hellcat” — A trade in which Hellstrom’s ex returns to her happy-go-lucky nature, battling different aspects of herself then getting into mystical hijinks as the sole superhero assigned to protect the state of Alaska after Marvel’s “Civil War.”

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