The threat of Mephisto looms in Jason Aaron’s Avengers run – and longstanding clues suggest the fate of Mephisto is about to be decided.
This article contains spoilers for Avengers #38
Marvel’s next Avengers event could finally decide the fate of Mephisto. The Marvel Universe is a place where all our greatest myths and legends are real, where Norse gods soar through the heavens and Hercules battles the Juggernaut in a city street. Given that’s the case, it should really come as no surprise Hell exists in the Marvel Universe, and the comics even have their own version of the Devil.
Of course, Mephisto isn’t actually the Biblical Satan. Rather, he is a Hell Lord who has fashioned himself after that role, in order to strike fear into the hearts of the superstitious. His powers within the realm he calls Hades or Hell are almost unlimited, but he is much more constrained in our dimension, where he tends to operate through Faustian pacts. He’s frequently attempted to manipulate superheroes into striking deals with him, tempting the likes of Thor and the X-Men’s Nightcrawler, and successfully tricking Spider-Man in the “One More Day” arc.
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All signs are that Marvel’s next major Avengers event will center around the fate of Mephisto. This was first teased back in 2019’s History of the Marvel Universe, a miniseries that included a vision of the future. Intriguingly, many events featured in this gorgeous double-page spread – the Age of Khonshu, Hulkling’s reign as ruler of the Kree and the Skrulls, the current “Outlawed” event – have already happened. Others are imminent. And one curious reference remains unexplained; the fate of Mephisto.
Mephisto has been a background enemy in Jason Aaron’s Avengers run, which has revealed he’s been working in the shadows to corrupt the Earth for over 1,000,000 years. Avengers #38 finally established the scale of his ambitions, confirming he’s been secretly waging war on Earth and its Avengers for millennia. He was the one who first tempted Thanos to come to Earth, he was the one who drove Apocalypse to wage war on Thor and his allies in the days of Ancient Egypt, and he was the one who persuaded the Hulk to leave the Avengers shortly after their formation. Though they do not know it, the Avengers have been fighting Mephisto and his agents all along, and he has no doubt been responsible for many of their darkest moments.
Matters seem to be building to a head. The recent “Age of Khonshu” was actually driven by the ancient Egyptian god of the moon deciding he had to acquire the power he needed to destroy Mephisto once and for all. Alternate-dimension Mephistos traveled to Earth to attempt to assassinate Khonshu, and they were defeated; but, as Tony Stark has realized, they indicate the endgame has arrived. “We’re looking at an army of Hell-spawned insurgents in a war we didn’t even know was being waged,” Iron Man observed in Avengers #38. “One we’re already losing.“
Tony Stark isn’t exaggerating. Mephisto has planted his agents throughout history, so-called “Maggots” – the people who’ve been unwise enough to strike a deal with him. Most concerning of all, the Avengers have no idea one of these Maggots is likely Spider-Man himself, given Peter Parker made an unwise pact with Mephisto in “One More Day” to restore his beloved Aunt May. It’s surely no coincidence that Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man run, which features a demonic Harry Osborn apparently from the pre-OMD timeline, is building to a head at the same time as the Aaron run.
The time has clearly come for Mephisto’s endgame, potentially the greatest cosmic threat the Avengers have ever faced. The Hell Lord has been manipulating affairs on Earth for literally 1,000,000 years, and according to recent teasers from Marvel the seeds sown in Avengers #38 will flourish in 2021. It looks as though the promise of History of the Marvel Universe #5 is finally being fulfilled – and the Avengers must decide the fate of Mephisto in a major event next year.
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