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On Line



By John Steib

At one point in my life, my favorite super-hero was the Son of Satan. 

The term “Horror” has meant different things in the world of comic books over the years.  In the 1950’s, EC Comics published truly horrific and graphic stories in such titles as Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror.  The stories were so violent they were targeted as a corrupting force in society and the Comics Code Authority was created to save the children.

In the 1960’s, horror comics were really Monster Comics.  They are known today as Kirby Monsters since artistic trailblazer, Jack “King” Kirby created and drew such formidable baddies as Groot the Monster from Planet X and Grottu, King of the Insects.  Big and destructive.  “Safe” for kids.  Largely forgettable (but nonetheless fun.)

The 1980’s gave us Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing among others, which lead to edgier comics such as Hellblazer and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.  Those lead to the 1990’s debut of an entire line of Mature Reader “horror” comics under the Vertigo (DC) banner.  Vertigo still functions today as a home for some of those “darker” titles, but has branched off into crime fiction, sci-fi and the plainly bizarre.

So, why did I skip the 1970’s?  Well, I was seven years old in the mid-70’s and I was discovering comics for the first time.  DC published House of Mystery and Witching Hour.  True horror stories in an EC style.  To be honest, the covers alone frightened me.  Marvel took a different path and, at the same time, stayed true to what they did best.

Marvel made monsters into super-heroes.  Werewolf by Night was about a “good” wolfman.  Morbius was a LIVING vampire.  Ghost Rider had a flaming skull, but also a really neat-o motorcycle.  Even Tomb of Dracula was as much about vampire hunters (like some guy named Blade) as old Vlad himself.  But, my favorite was the Son of Satan.

Even now I admit to being amazed my mom had no problem with me reading a comic featuring the Devil’s pride and joy.  Actually, Daimon Hellstrom was not a chip off Lucifer’s block.  He was a tortured soul who fought his dark side with his trusty trident that shot hellfire.  His chest was emblazoned with a pentagram where Superman’s “S” usually sits.  He even had a cape, fangs and a spit curl that resembled horns.  And no Batmobile for his guy, Daimon could conjure three fiery horses and a chariot that could carry him faster than a bat out of you-know-where.

The Son of Satan.  A comic I truly believed would not get me in trouble if I smuggled it into Sunday School.  I could always say the Devil made…Nah.

Happy Halloween.

John Steib
Collector's Edge WEST Store Manager

All comments (c)2002 John Steib and may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without written permission of the author.

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