How Mephisto Launched a Secret War Against the Marvel Universe

The heroes of the Marvel universe contend with villains from every dark corner of the world and beyond. One of the most powerful villains to ever challenge the forces of good is Mephisto, The Lord of Lies, ruler of Hell and harvester of souls. In a shocking and terrifying victory for the Prince of Lies, there was once an event where Mephisto challenged and bested a staggering number of Earth's most powerful heroes and teams at once.

In the 1987 four-part mini-series Mephisto Vs... by Al Milgrom and John Buscema, Mephisto executed a grand plan to harvest the most powerful soul in all of existence.

The first issue of the mini-series begins with the Fantastic Four discovering a strange shaft in the basement of their base, the Baxter Building, scorching supernatural flames erupting from it. The next day each member of the Fantastic Four are subjected to terrible illusions: The Thing believes he is insulted by the Human Torch and subsequently believes that he killed his partner in their fight; the Human Torch is tricked into thinking he killed a crowd of people at a tennis match; Mister Fantastic is sucked into a magic portal; and the Invisible Woman believes that she burned herself alive.

In actuality, the heroes were all transported to Hell where Mephisto held them as prisoners. Each member of the team attacks Mephisto but is beaten with ease. In the end, Mephisto strikes a deal with the Invisible Woman: her soul in exchange for the release of her family.

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With the Invisible Woman captured, Mister Fantastic begins to formulate a plan to rescue her. Believing to have deduced a clue given by Mephisto, he reaches out to the team X-Factor for their help. The team, consisting of the original X-Men line-up of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel, agree to meet with the Fantastic Four. Suddenly, an old man appears and tells the heroes of a mob chasing a woman fitting the Invisible Woman’s description.

When X-Factor manages to save the Invisible Woman from the mob Mephisto appears and attempts to convince the mutants that they are one and the same. Mephisto fails in this approach and fights the team of mutants: Iceman is melted on the spot; Cyclops’s family is teleported directly into the path of his full-powered optic blast; Beast is transformed into a mute, hideous monster; and a group of flying demons attack Angel. Only Jean is left unscathed to deal with Mephisto.

The issue ends with Jean agreeing to a deal with Mephisto: her soul will replace the Invisible Woman’s and all harm done to her teammates will be undone. Jean accepts and is transported to Hell with Mephisto.

Regrouping after their total defeat at the hands of Mephisto, X-Factor contacts the Fantastic Four and tells them what they believe to be Mephisto’s plan. The Fantastic Four in turn contact the X-Men and warn them that Mephisto may appear at any time and attack them. The X-Men team, consisting of Wolverine, Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, Longshot, and Dazzler, pay heed to Mister Fantastic’s message.

Shortly after, as Rogue heads out on her own, Mephisto appears in a flash of smoke and brimstone. He grabs Rogue and kisses her in an attempt at stealing her soul. Rogue escapes, believing that she has managed to weaken Mephisto. She rushes to each of the other X-Men and touches their bare skin. In doing so, she manages to render each unconscious and with a portion of their spirits absorbed into her body.

But Mephisto laughs as he explains to Rogue that she fell for his trap perfectly: she had never weakened him, and by absorbing her teammates, had enough of their souls in her that he was able to take them all to Hell at once. Laughing in victory, Mephisto teleports Rogue to Hell with him and gazes over the X-Men, his plan nearly complete.

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The final issue of the mini-series begins with a surprise encounter between Mephisto and being that exceeds even himself in sheer power: the celestial being, The Living Tribunal. As Mephisto and The Living Tribunal speak it is revealed that Mephisto is weakening and that his domain of Hell is facing ruination. Hel, the Norse goddess of Death, has been encroaching on Mephisto’s own realm and has begun to initiate a war with him.

It is here that Mephisto reveals the true purpose of his scheming: to obtain the soul of Thor. Mephisto leaves Hell with Rogue and finds Thor’s broken body on Earth. Simultaneously, both The Avengers and the West Coast Avengers teams arrive at the site where Thor’s wounded body lies. Both Avenger’s teams attack Mephisto in unison but are defeated easily. Mephisto ensnares Thor’s soul, but the God of Thunder proves too strong and incorruptible, even for Mephisto, and the Lord of Lies concedes defeat.

But as Mephisto returns to Hell he laughs in glee as knows that he has ultimately tricked Hel. Thor's soul will wreak untold chaos in Hel's realm, and the mini-series ends with Mephisto laughing in devilish glee.

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About The Author
Devon Foster (147 Articles Published)

Devon Foster is a comic feature writer for CBR and also a full-time nerd. An avid fan of comics and video games ever since he could remember, Devon has earned a Bachelor's in English with a specialization in children's literature from Rowan University. His favorite comics are Jim Starlin's Warlock, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and Chris Claremont's entire run on X-Men. His favorite games are Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Secret of Mana, and Illusion of Gaia. Follow him on Twitter at @DungeonHeroX and say hi!

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