Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Before Helstrom hits Hulu, meet the demonic Marvel siblings who inspired the show

Helstrom
Helstrom
Photo: Katie Yu/Hulu

Marvel’s comic book universe is constantly in danger, whether it’s because of human-level evil like Wilson Fisk or cosmic-level evil like Thanos, and the specific teams of heroes that deal with such threats are usually tailored to whatever sort of danger is being faced. For example, Daredevil wasn’t much help when Thanos collected the Infinity Gems and snapped half of all life into dust, and the Silver Surfer isn’t going to bother swooping down from space to help stop the Kingpin’s corrupt mayoral campaign. When it comes to magical threats, though, most of the Marvel heroes are typically out of their depth, requiring the Avengers to call on supernatural utility players like Daimon Hellstrom—soon to be the focus of his own live-action Hulu show, Helstrom, where he’s played by Tom Austen.

Daimon Hellstrom has been the star of his own solo books, but in terms of how much impact he’s had on the Marvel Universe, he’s no Doctor Strange. So who is he? Well, as is usually the case with comic books, it’s complicated.

The basic pitch, and the attention-grabbing title typically slapped on a cover when he makes an appearance in a comic, is that Daimon Hellstrom is “The Son Of Satan.” His mother is a human, making him half-demon, but he grew up on Earth and historically has shown little loyalty to the fires of Hell. In his first standalone comic, seen below, Daimon eagerly waged a one-man war against his father’s demonic armies, and this cover gives a good look at his classic comic outfit: Big cape, matching pants, and an upside-down pentagram etched onto his chest (because he’s a “good guy,” you see).

The Son Of Satan #1
The Son Of Satan #1
Image: Marvel Comics, Gil Kane
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Daimon Hellstrom was created by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich in the ’70s, making his debut in a Ghost Rider comic, and he has comfortably slotted into supporting roles ever since—appearing alongside The Human Torch and The Thing in Two-In-One team-up books, working with the old Defenders for a long time, and joining a team called Spirits Of Vengeance with Ghost Rider and some other spooky heroes. He also sometimes operates under the name “Hellstorm,” which is like if your name is Toby and you tell people that you prefer to be called T-Bone.

Daimon was also briefly married to Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat, and the two investigated demonic mysteries together before she… went insane and killed herself. He eventually helped bring her back to life, but it’s not exactly a shocking claim to say that comic books don’t always treat female characters especially well. (At least Patsy got a chance for some payback when Daimon showed up in Kate Leth and Brittney Williams’ very good Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! series as a literal ex-boyfriend from Hell.)

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Daimon Hellstrom’s closest brush with mainstream Marvel, and his most obvious appearance as a magical stand-in guy, came in the early 2000s after Doctor Strange renounced his title as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Daimon, who had worked with Strange on the old Defenders team, was one of the many frontrunners to replace him—which would’ve given him a chance to wear an even more audacious cape—but the title was eventually passed on to another relatively obscure magic guy named Brother Voodoo. He became Doctor Voodoo after getting called up to the big leagues, even though Strange used that name because he is actually a doctor, and his only major impact on the universe after that was sacrificing his life to help Strange and Daimon Hellstrom fight off an invasion from supreme magical entity Agamotto alongside Luke Cage’s New Avengers.

But you can’t talk about Daimon Hellstrom without also talking about his sister, Satana, played by Sydney Lemmon and renamed Ana for the Hulu show. In the comics, while Daimon was raised on Earth and hated his father, Satana went with their dad to Hell and grew up evil. Much like how her brother is The Son Of Satan, Satana is often billed as “The Devil’s Daughter” on splash pages while making a cool pose that shows off her giant horns or spiky, horn-like hair (for when you don’t want to be walking around with giant horns). You can see an example of this in the cover for one of her first appearances in the pages of this Marvel Preview—published in 1976, which explains the furry boots.

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Marvel Preview #7
Image: Marvel Comics

Created by Thomas and John Romita Sr., Satana made her debut in Marvel horror comics as an antihero succubus, roaming the Earth in search of souls to consume. Sometimes they’re bad guys, like when she kills a rapist in her first appearance as part of Vampire Tales. Daimon and Satana oddly don’t have a ton of history together, and when they do meet up they tend to be on opposite sides. But she fills a similar role as her brother: When bad guys need some magic advice, they call up Satana Hellstrom (as was the case with the Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers and the cabal of villains that Madam Masque assembled to take on Kate Bishop and her new West Coast Avengers). She’s also been known to assist the side of the angels, so to speak, when a universal threat puts even the fires of Hell in danger.

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So far, though, none of this should be all that confusing, and that brings us to the question of Daimon and Satana’s parentage. He’s the Son Of Satan and she’s the Daughter Of The Devil, but in Marvel comics, that doesn’t mean what it sounds like it means. Unlike in the DC Universe, where he hangs out at a nightclub and chats with Dream of The Endless, the biblical Devil doesn’t really exist in Marvel comics. That wasn’t always the case, but as the rules of Marvel’s reality were fleshed out over the years, “Hell” became one of many Hell-like dimensions that are ruled over by any number of Satan-esque demonic figures (and that’s without even mentioning The Eternals, who supposedly inspired all of mankind’s myths and legends, even though that doesn’t make sense).

The Marvel movies have already featured Dormammu, lord of the Dark Dimension, and readers of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline or Spider-Man’s One More Day event know Mephisto (a guy who might as well be Satan even if he’s not literally Satan), but neither of them fathered the Hellstrom kids. Instead, their dad has since been retconned to be a demon named Marduk Kurios, who—unlike Mephisto—does claim to be the former angel Lucifer who tried to rebel against God and was imprisoned in Hell (you know, like in the Bible). That might not be totally true, giving Marvel a big enough out to say that he’s not literally the Devil, but in canonical Marvel comics where a red guy with horns shows up and says “I’m Satan,” it’s actually Marduk.

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So the Son Of Satan is not the son of Satan, and the Daughter Of The Devil is not the daughter of the Devil, but they’re both close enough to get their respective jobs done—which, again, is showing up to provide a little demonic edge to a supernatural superhero story when Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider are either too busy or too outmatched. With Hulu’s Helstrom, though, the duo not only get to be the stars of their own story, but they’re teaming up to tell it together for once. That’s a nice step up from just being on some wizard’s speed dial, even if Satana did lose her cool horns and Daimon had to put a shirt over his inverted pentagram in the transition to television.

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