Here’s another book with an unfamiliar cover, and one about which I remember very little. It was another issue that I got in one of those plastic-wrapped bundles of older coverless comic books being sold by my local drug store. And it was certainly not why I picked up the bundle in question, but rather one of teh other random books that I got in such a package. While I had liked the previous two issues of SON OF SATAN that I had read well enough, I still wasn’t a monster/supernatural fan, and this story felt more plugged into teh overall ongoing mythos and storyline for Daimon Hellstrom. So I owned it, but I scantly recall its contents. So let’s investigate it together.
The story in this issue was written by a relatively novice Chris Claremont, who was trying to earn his spurs by working on whatever third-tier features might come open. For Chris, though, there wasn’t any slumming–not only did he give his all to just about anything that he wrote, but the characters therein became a permanent part of his repertoire company, and he’d go back to them (or try to) again and again in future stories. The art was produced by mainstay Sal Buscema–not a name that I expect to associate with moody supernatural-looking artwork. Here, though, he’s well inked by Bob McLeod and colored with some sensitivity by Diane Buscema, Sal’s niece, and so his strong storytelling chops are allowed to shine. This was a different gear than I was used to seeing from Sal.
In practical terms, there really wasn’t all that much difference between a Marvel super hero title and a supernatural/monster one. Part of the appeal of what Marvel did here was to apply what they had learned about making their super hero stories compelling to the monster books. So each series had its own ongoing casts and soap opera-style subplots and personal problems and recurring enemies (not quite villains in the supernatural books, mostly monsters or demons or sorcerers.) But as I’ve said many times before, I was a bit of a snob in my limited sense of what I wanted from my comic books at this time. I wasn’t a fan of scary movies in general, so it wasn’t entertainment that I would typically seek out on my own.
The issue opens up with a multi-page sequence introducing satanist Gloria Hefford, and Claremont spends some effort attempting to get into her head and make her a real character, as he would with most of his female players across his career. Unfortunately, when Gloria attempts to conjure up a demon, as you did back in the 1970s, she instead got her soul chucked and her form possessed by Kthara, Mother of Demons and a rival of Daimon’s pop, Satan.Gloria, it turns out, is the daughter of the man who raised Daimon Hellstrom, and so he’s flying out (commercial) to intercede, in response to a latter from Gloria’s dad, Lewis. Along teh way, we get a few flashbacks that set up the history between Lewis, Gloria and Daimon and also establish Daimon’s sister, who was separated from him when they were in the orphanage together, and whom their father has now crafted into the demon succubus Satana.
Daimon is met at the airport by Gloria, really, Kthara, who spins him a tale of her Satanist church having been taken over and pushed into becoming something evil by Satana. Clearly, she’s hoping that the two offspring of Satan will fight one another–and this being a Marvel comic of the 1970s, what could possibly disappoint her? Daimon locates Satana in a graveyard where she’s visiting the marker of a dead associate, and despite Satana’s protestations, he attacks, determined to punish her for a string of deaths that were actually the work of Kthara. Unbeknownst to daimon, Kthara is enhancing his demonic power with her own, and so his bombardment of hellfire appears to incinderate Satana completely. Then, as the victorious-but-rattled Daimon returns to Gloria’s abode, he is easy prey and struck down by her.
Daimon awakens to find himself chained within a pentagram that saps his strength. The other people that Kthara has killed have all been a part of a complex spell that will give her and her demon brood dominion over the Earth, and by sacrificing Daimon, the spell will be complete–plus, she’ll get to ice Satan’s offspring as a bonus.But it turns out, of course, that Satana isn’t dead, and she shows up to intercede–less from any attachment to her brother and more looking for revenge on the person who set her up to be ambushed. That said, she does take a moment to free Daimon, and then the Satan Twins team up against Kthara and her assorted demonic minions.But it turns out that Daimon isn’t powerful enough to exorcise Kthara from Gloria’s body.
By this point, Satana has had enough, and so she unleashes the Basilisk that dwells within her–with every kill, the Basilisk grows stronger, and eventually it will consume Satana as well. But it’s a great finishing move when she happens to be facing powerful foes who need a whupping. (It’s also how she survived Daimon’s fatal attack earlier in teh issue–Satana was maybe using the thing a bit too casually given the ramifications of doing so.) Kthara lasts one large panel against the thing, before she and Gloria both have been destroyed. Daimon, of course, is pissed, but as Satana points out to him, he hardly has the high ground here. He was the one who attacked her, after all, duped by Kthara in Gloria’s form. And so, Satana takes her leave, with Daimon left standing there mutely, an impotent figure pretty much throughout this story.