mephistofilmAnd here’s another big bad guy from casualgamer‘s list: Mephisto, probably the most evil being in the Marvel Universe. He first appeared in Ghost Rider, portrayed by Peter Fonda. He’s referred to as Mephistopheles, and he appears in his human form for most of the movie (we only have a few glimpses of his true, demonic form): he’s the one who tricks Johnny Blaze into selling his soul to him and to become his agent on Earth, and who later sends him on mission against his own son, Blackheart. Mephisto returns in the sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, where he goes by the name Roarke and is portrayed by Ciarán Hinds. In the movie, it’s revealed that he can walk Earth only using human bodies as hosts, but the bodies rapidly decay, and he has limited access to his powers; to solve the situation, he fathers a son, Danny Ketch, with the intention of using him as a permanent host… but he finds Ghost Rider on his road once again, and he’s sent back to Hell without being able to possess Danny. Now, the movies didn’t exactly give justice to one of the greatest Marvel villains ever: let’s see together who this master of evil is in the comics.

The entity known Mephisto existed for eons, and his very origins are shrouded in mystery. Some believe he was born as one of the creations of the same Supreme Being whose suicide created the Marvel Universe and the Infinity Gems, and that he was born to bring the evil necessary to balance the universe; others say that Mephisto was the first of the Hell-Lords, a spawn of powerful demons born when the Elder Gods, the primeval powers who ruled the universe, were sent away by Atum the God Eater: their energy remains were so powerful that they gave birth to some of the most powerful (and wicked) beings that would have inhabited the universe. Being it a way or the other, Mephisto was alive when Earth was not even in the possibility horizon, an extra-dimensional being of pure meanness and cunning, who ruled over a dark and fiery dimension inhabited by lesser demons whose sole purpose of existence was to serve him. When sentient beings first appeared in the universe, Mephisto found out that he could augment his mephistocomics1already nearly infinite powers by imprisoning their souls in his domain, draining energy from their immortal astral forms. He mostly preyed on humans, who inhabited one of the realms most accessible to his own, but he didn’t turn his nose up at other creatures as well, as long as they were sentient beings. When humans started believing, varying slightly from culture to culture, into a single being who was the origin of all evil, calling him the Devil, Mephisto decided he would have posed as that very entity, using human beliefs to be able to influence them more: he called himself Mephisto, after one of the many names the Devil was called with, but allowed his preys to refer to him in many other ways, Satan included; he also presented his realm as “Hell”, transforming it, as well as his own appearance, to match humans’ view on Hell and the Devil. This way, it was easier for him to approach humans and to trick them into surrendering their will to him, selling their souls in exchange of power, wealth or glory, with everything impressed in special Contracts that, imbued with Mephisto’s magic, trapped the signer’s soul in Hell once the deal was done. With humans, Mephisto had access to a source of truly unlimited power.

There were, however, some limitations, as Mephisto, being pure evil, was somehow “allergic” to noble souls, who acted as poison to him: in order to obtain nourishment from souls, they needed to be wicked souls… even if the tastiest were surely noble souls who had fallen from grace, the ones Mephisto preferred. His powers were also limited when he was outside his realm, so he used his unlimited intelligence to manipulate others to do his job when he had to act in other dimensions. In 987 A.D., for example, a sect of druids summoned Mephisto, asking immortality from him: the demon lord granted them their wish, but asked from them souls in return. The seven druids started killing a vast number of innocents, whose soul were “by contract” imprisoned in Mephisto’s realm; in modern times, they founded Mys-Tech, a multi-billionaire corporation that, through different means, caused misery and death all over the world, thus paying their part of the bargain and keeping their immortality. Many souls, however, resisted Mephisto’s temptations and flatters: once, the demon set his sights on the most noble soul he had ever met, the Silver Surfer, former herald of Galactus. He tried to corrupt him many times in many ways, and he even attempted to trick him into killing the love of his life, Shalla-Bal, but each time he failed, and even mephistocomics2more, the Surfer’s purity hurt him, affecting him and freeing some of the souls he had already captured. He even tried to capture the Asgardian Thor, and nearly succeeded thanks to one of Loki‘s machinations, trapping also Sif and the Warriors Three, but eventually the God of Thunder freed himself from the chunk of ice he was locked in, and his honor and goodness armed Mephisto and his very realm, forcing the demon to return the Asgardians to their dimension. There were, however, also many victories: he successfully claimed the soul of Cynthia von Doom, mother of Doctor Doom, forcing the dictator to battle for her freedom once per year, only to feed on his pain when he inevitably lost; he tricked the stuntman Johnny Blaze into selling his soul, successfully banishing the rogue demon Zarathos inside him and making them both his agent on Earth, the Ghost Rider; unable to corrupt them, he tortured to the limits of madness Silver Surfer, Doctor StrangeDaredevil and others, and he erased from history a bond of true love, the marriage between Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. Evil is older than life, and Mephisto was able and willing to make it spread through the universe in a variety of ways…

Mephisto is one of most ancient and powerful beings in the universe, an embodiment of evil with eons of experience on how to spread his cruelty and his corruption through the universe. Extremely intelligent and cunning, he’s rightfully known as the Prince of Lies, able to deceive and seduce nearly anyone to collect his/her soul. His power, albeit it diminishes in realms other than Hell, is nearly unlimited: he can channel the power of souls and the evil energy in any realm to increase his strength, durability, size and speed; he’s immortal and nearly invulnerable, and he has access to an unlimited knowledge of magic, which makes him capable of a variety of deeds, from summoning hellfire to trap and enslave souls, from shapeshifting and transmutation to intangibility, from invisibility to healing, but at its peaks Mephisto’s magic can reshape reality as well, creating new worlds or modifying the current one by tapping into its history. Limited only by the free will of his intended victims, Mephisto seeks to collect as many souls as he can to become the undisputed ruler of all realities: acting from behind the curtains of the universe itself, the demon lord manipulates people and events to spread his corruption and to bend even the purest of souls.