The Devil is a pretty powerful figure in fiction, so you’d think the big red guy would play a large part in comic books, what with the ultimate battle of good and evil thing going on and all. Except, due to the Comics Code Authority, Satan hasn’t been allowed to appear in comic books for decades. And though the CCA is officially dead, the stand-ins for Satan have become so entrenched in continuity, its doubtful Beelzebub will raise his horny head any time soon.
That said, there are PLENTY of stand-ins in comic books. Here are seven of our favorite devils:
You know, he’s not Satan. He’s just a little Satannish. But more seriously, folks, the demonic entity may be the creation of Dr. Strange’s archenemy Dormammu, but he’s taken on life and power of his own. He’s known for offering “deals” to humans for their souls, which is pretty satan-esque indeed. He’s also powerful enough to wipe all of England clean of Skrulls during their recent alien invasion.
An enemy of Marvel Comics Man-Thing, Thog is probably the only Devil on the list who likes to wear shorts. Still, he has power enough to nearly take over the Universe, even though he’s only an extra-dimensional entity who is definitely not Satan. Though he may also kind of be Satan.
Here’s an interesting case where a character was supposed be Satan, but turned out not to be not because of censorship, but because of story conflict. Garth Ennis introduced the First of the Fallen in Hellblazer, fully intending him to be Vertigo’s version of the Beast. That is, until Neil Gaiman introduced our number three entry over in Sandman, and Ennis quickly retconned him into being the first being sentenced to Hell.
Created by Mark Waid and Howard Porter, DC’s lord of the Underworld was introduced in the appropriately titled “Underworld Unleashed” crossover. Neron appeared before various supervillains, offering them a giant upgrade in powers, in exchange for their soul – not a big deal, as most of them were headed to Hell anyway. Neron stands out as quite possibly the hunkiest version of Satan ever introduced.
Quite possibly the closest mainstream comics have come to the religious interpretation of Satan, Lucifer is the mythological fallen angel, first introduced in Sandman, and continuing in his own long running series. He’s a blonde haired angel with angel wings, who had the bad idea to piss of god. Well, nobody’s perfect.
Though there was eventually revealed to be an actual Satan in Image’s Spawn comic, for about a decade or so, the disgusting Malebolgia was the Devil behind the scenes, manipulating poor Al Simmons towards his destiny of leading Hell’s armies onto Earth. And then Malebolgia was killed, and they were all like, “Nope, there’s an even bigger Satan! He’s called SuperSatan. Cough.”
Marvel’s big red bad has gotten a poor rap in recent years, as he’s responsible for the unpopular, “I like to eat marriages” retcon that split up Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson. That said, Mephisto has always been a pretty unbeatable bad guy, constantly causing trouble for Marvel heroes, and very, very rarely actually being beaten. Give it a few years, and this Devil will be back at the top. Or bottom, if you prefer.