In Avengers #38, it’s revealed that the demon Mephisto is responsible for informing a young Thanos about Earth, beginning the first of many conflicts.
Warning! Spoilers for Avengers #38, in stores now!
Ever since his introduction in Invincible Iron Man #55, the Mad Titan known as Thanos has become one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe, and a constant opponent of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Although he’s faced defeat, Thanos is never someone to underestimate. But a recent Avengers issue has suggested that Thanos did not discover Earth all on his own but was actually pushed in that direction by another infamous villain. In Avengers #38, it is revealed that the demon Mephisto has been constantly manipulating other villains throughout history, including tipping off a young Thanos about Earth’s potential.
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Mephisto has always served as Marvel’s stand-in for the Devil, working in the shadows to manipulate things in his favor. Created by Stan Lee and John Buscema, this Faustian Devil was recently the primary antagonist in Jason Aaron’s Avengers story. Acting on the behalf of the Egyptian god Khonshu, the vigilante Moon Knight battled and stole powers and weapons from the Avengers in order to destroy Mephisto and prevent a vision of a future ruled by the Marvel Mephisto. Unfortunately Khonshu’s idea of saving the world was to rule it himself, though, with the help of the Phoenix Force, the Avengers were able to defeat him and save the world. But the true threat of Mephisto and his machinations was revealed, leaving the Avengers uneasy and trying to prepare for what to do next.
In the latest issue – by Aaron with art by Ed McGuinness – the Avengers deal with the aftermath of the “Age of Khonshu,” which includes a paranoid Iron Man, who believes that the influx of alternate-dimension Mephistos foreshadowed a pan-dimensional war that they can’t possibly win. Time travel and alternate realities may be bread and butter to the Avengers, but they’ve never faced an opponent whose grand plans to raise some hell have been set in motion since the beginning of Earth. Revealing some new origins of Mephisto, Aaron shows various cases of Mephisto making demonic compromises and deals throughout history. In these flashbacks, readers see the demonic millipede encouraging some of the greatest threats the world has ever seen, such as Apocalypse, the Hulk, and even a young Thanos. Encouraged to seek out Earth and its connection to Death, a scrawny yet eager Thanos arrives and presumably does battle with the First Avengers.
This revelation does bring up some questions as it changes details of pre-conceived continuity. It basically means that Thanos’ introduction in Invincible Iron Man #55 all those years ago was not technically his first appearance, more like his first modern age appearance and that his eye has been on Earth for millions of years. This begs the question: would he have ever noticed Earth without Mephisto’s encouragement? Could Earth have been spared the knowledge of one of its greatest threats or did Mephisto’s interference actually work out for the better? Also, if Thanos did face other iterations of the Avengers, what was the outcome? And if so, why wasn’t there any sort of record to alert future generations of this seemingly immortal threat?
While those questions are certainly some for a greater discussion later in time, the entire incident proves how dangerous Mephisto truly is. Mephisto is more than the devil on Thanos’ shoulder; he is a force manipulating him to accomplish his agenda. Hopefully the Avengers are able to figure out something soon, because when it comes to the world, Mephisto didn’t start the fire but he definitely has plans for whatever remains, with or without Thanos‘ help.
NEXT: Avengers Theory: The Fate of Mephisto is Coming
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