Friday, 17 December 2010

Marvel Spotlight #14. The Son of Satan chills out.

Son of Satan in Marvel Spotlight #14, Ikthalon
And there was me thinking I had it rough, with my dad never seeming to know when it was Christmas. I should've recalled  that there're those amongst us for whom it's never Christmas.

Why?

Because their dad's Satan.

I could be showing my prejudice here but I suspect that, when Daimon Hellstrom was growing up, Yuletide was never celebrated big-time in Chez Lucifer. Still, not to worry; if the Son of Satan won't get to celebrate the birth of the Lord this Christmas, at least this issue he gets to have fun with snowmen.

Returning home from his latest clash with Darkness, it's not long before the Son Of - in his daytime guise of Daimon Hellstrom - finds himself invited to meet Dr Katherine Reynolds, about a university building that's haunted by demons. The demons are Ikthalon and his hordes, a group of beings from a world of ice, and themselves made of that substance. Granted, we only get to see about five or so of his hordes but I'm sure he's got the rest  hidden somewhere. Needless to say, Ikthalon and his kin plan to overrun the planet Earth.

Fortunately the Son of Satan's on hand and after getting captured in their ice kingdom where his fiery powers don't work, he quickly contrives a return to Earth to defeat the dread Ikthalon by melting him with Hell Fire, straight after promising he wouldn't. Exactly what happens to the rest of Ikthalon's demons isn't explained. The mysterious disappearing demons aside, this is the best part of the tale as the comic's "hero" proves himself perfectly happy to lie and cheat to get what he wants. He then follows this up by giving the hapless Dr Reynolds a good old-fashioned bitch-slap before flying off in a very ungainly manner.

While it might be ungallant and unbecoming for a hero to threaten a young lady - especially one as lovely as the young doctor - it has to be said she's been asking for it. After agreeing she wouldn't enter the building that night, she promptly entered it for no good reason, standing there like a lemon while the cretinous caretaker failed to take care and washed away the ankh that Hellstrom'd painted on the front step to prevent Ikthalon and his goons from leaving the building and taking over the world.

This is the Son of Satan's third outing and, for me, the tale's not up to the standards of the first two. For one thing it's not drawn by Herb Trimpe and therefore lacks the sweaty twisted delirium Trimpe brought to the title. Instead it's drawn by Jim Mooney. I like Jim Mooney. He drew Spider-Man and he drew Supergirl and he did both with a visual charm. But his somewhat wholesome style isn't ideal for a strip that deals with demonic creatures from Realms Diabolique.

Despite this, it's an engaging if insubstantial read. Clearly writer Steve Gerber at this point was looking to move the strip away from the, "Daimon Hellstrom takes on Satan," template laid down in the first two stories, and to widen its palette, its world and its supporting cast by bringing in Dr Reynolds who keeps declaring to herself that she's "fascinated" by Hellstrom. It makes the first move towards doing that, and does it entertainingly but you can't help feeling it's a strip that's rapidly conventionalising out, and already starting to lose sight of just how dark and macabre it had the potential to be.

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