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Comic Book / Mephisto

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"Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste... No? Not even a smile? A chortle? Ooh, tough crowd."

Mephisto is a Marvel Universe character created by writer Stan Lee and artist John Buscema. He first appeared in The Silver Surfer #3 (Dec. 1968). Based on Mephistopheles – a demon character from the Faust legend, who often went by Mephisto as a nickname.

An embodiment of ultimate evil, powerful Hell Lord and Marvel's most common stand in for Satan. He has antagonized just about every hero (from Ghost Rider to Doctor Strange), but tends to single out those who are especially noble like the Silver Surfer and Thor. As can be expected, many of the traditional tropes associated with Satan are part of him.

His origins are unclear; Mephisto claims to have been created, along with many other demons, by the supreme being whose suicide resulted in the creation of the Marvel universe as well as the Infinity Gems. He also claimed that his total evil nature is because the supreme being did not choose to make him good as that being had no concept of it.


Mephisto is responsible for a number of evil acts, including capturing and holding the soul of Cynthia Von Doom – the mother of Doctor Doom — until Doctor Strange and Doom free her to ascend to heaven. He was jealous of the worship of the fire demon Zarathos, so, posing as Satan, Mephisto creates the Ghost Rider by bonding Zarathos to Johnny Blaze — though this has been subjected to numerous revisions and retcons. In one story where he battled Thor, he was shown to have various historical villains in his realm, such as Adolf Hitler, Blackbeard, and Attila the Hun. He has also created his 'son' Blackheart, a demonic entity that plagues many of Earth's heroes. And naturally, it's almost impossible to forget his actions in One More Day.


Mephisto Tropes

  • Abusive Parents: Though given his kids are, like him, both invincible and pure evil, this might cross into Hilariously Abusive Childhood (his punishments have ranged from eating Blackheart alive to turning him into the new janitor of a casino whose toilets were all overflowing, for example). He's still a gigantic dick to them, very purposely for the reason of making them more evil.
  • Actually a Doombot: He's sometimes been impersonated by lesser demons who imitate his form. Such demons are defeated far more easily than the virtually invincible Mephisto.
  • Always Someone Better: He's one of the most evil, powerful demons in Marvel's cosmology. A good example of just how powerful the One Below All is? In "Defenders: The Best Defense", a future version of Doctor Strange asked Mephisto to take its "spiritual infection" out of the Hulk, and he cuts the sorcerer off immediately after he asks to do so "if possible":
    Mephisto: Oh, it’s not. The Devil in him is far stronger than I am.
  • Archenemy: To Ghost Rider, Black Panther and Silver Surfer (he see the Surfer's pure soul as the greatest prize imaginable). Fighting him also falls under the jurisdiction of Doctor Strange, though by this point, there are very few heroes he hasn't screwed around with.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Mephisto is energized by sources of evil in the human world and has implied multiple times that as long as there is evil in the world he will never fully be gone and find a way to return after each defeat.
  • Badass Boast: "Spare me your verses, sorcerer! The power they conjure is as nothing to me! Your efforts would be amusing, were they not so pathetic! It is clear that you STILL do not realize the full extent of the POWER you face! You have called me demon and monster - but I am the LORD OF DEMONS, the ultimate monster! I am the LIVING EVIL... I AM MEPHISTO!!"
  • Bad Boss: Mephisto is a cruel master and is quick to beat or torture his minions when they don't preform to his standards.
  • Berserk Button: Taking a soul from his realm puts him in a VERY bad mood. Telling him what to do is an even bigger one. Galactus once demanded he hand over the Silver Surfer, and Mephisto went ballistic and picked a fight with him just because Galactus made a demand of him.
  • Big Bad: Up until Blaze (temporarily) got rid of Zarathos, Mephisto was behind the book's central conflict as well as the mastermind of many other mishaps. In the wider Marvel Universe, he occasionally manages to play this role too.
  • Big Red Devil: The big red devil of the Marvel universe.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Mephisto's evil and proud of it, sometimes going as far as to claim to be the origin of evil.
  • Cardboard Prison: Damnation ended with Mephisto losing dominion over his portion of Hell to Johnny Blaze before being magically sealed in his own Las Vegas tower. He's since reappeared, free and fully-powered, in titles like Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider, Best Defense, Champions and Deadpool with no explanation whatsoever, though Ghost Rider (2019) mitigates this by having Mephisto state that, in his absence, some minor demons have been impersonating him to make deals because of the clout his name and reputation bring, suggesting that the occasions where he appeared to be free weren’t actually him.
  • Chess with Death: He's willing to play games and engage in competitions for souls, with one of the more mundane instances of this being when he wagered a golden fiddle to an alien if the fellow could beat him in a musical duel (in a Shout-Out to Charlie Daniels's song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"). Mephisto lost. Badly.
  • The Chessmaster: Case in point, he'll often allow himself to be beaten if he can use the event to give a greater enemy more grief down the line.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Not as outright as some examples, but his plans often include screwing over his partner in some way. Just ask Loki. He is called the Lord of Lies for a reason, after all.
  • Complete Immortality: Destroy his body, it just banishes him back to his realm. Destroy his body there like Doctor Doom once did? He'll just create a new one. Even being erased by a Reality Warper isn't enough to kill him.
  • Continuity Snarl: Johnny Blaze's origin has become a bit of clusterfuck in regards to whether it was Mephisto, Satan/Lucifer, Zadkiel or a combination of the three who orchestrated the Ghost Rider deal with him. That all three are compulsive liars doesn't help.
  • The Corrupter: His usual MO. His most (in)famous case being convincing Spider-Man to trade his marriage for Aunt May's life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Most fights end with him dishing these.
  • Deal with the Devil: Not his only tactic, but probably his favourite.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: He's only one of a number of powerful and rival demon Hell Lords, others being the likes of Thog and Sataanish. Mephisto is generally depicted as the strongest of them all, though not by a significant standard.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Willingly submits himself as Thanos' servant following the latter's acquisition of the Infinity Gems, and acts as his adviser for much of the storyline. Ultimately, though, he's The Starscream.
  • Depending on the Writer: The only consistent things about him are that he is red and evil. His appearance changing can be justified by his shapeshifting, but his personality is on a spectrum between Classic Devil, Large Ham, and Flaming Devil.
  • Dimension Lord: He rules one of the Splinter Realms, which were originally Hell itself before being divided between the various demons and gods that now rule it. He owns one of the larger portions and within is nigh-unstoppable, but is much weaker outside of it. Often his physical form is considered an extension of it.
  • Distaff Counterpart: His daughter Mephista.
  • Enemy Mine: He's willing to help the Ghost Riders against common threats, though he rarely gets directly involved.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Has pulled this Doctor Doom, tormenting him with nightmares of his mother being tortured. Rescuing his mother had been one of Doom's goals for years, but Mephisto got the better of him every time until Doom enlisted Doctor Strange's help.
  • Evil vs. Evil: An X-Factor storyline has him and the other Hell Lords fighting one another over who gets to rule Hell. None of them win in the end.
  • Exact Words:
    • This is why no one should ever make a deal with him. He absolutely loves overly specific interpretations of deals that screw the other party over as much as possible while still technically being within the terms.
    • A good example was the time when he pitted Johnny and Zarathos against Asmodeus, saying they would be freed from each other if they managed to outrace him, but if they weren't fast enough to win, they'd have to serve Asmodeus. Ghost Rider wins the race, but Mephisto finds some reason to back out of the deal. Ghost Rider was really bait to get his rival to accept a small fine; Mephisto might consider being blasted into non-existence "small" (see Fighting a Shadow below), but it probably wasn't what Asmodeus had in mind.
    • Had the tables turned and this used against him by Thanos. He offered to help in one of the Mad Titan's quests in exchange for a Cosmic Cube. Once it was over, Thanos gave him a Cube and Mephisto immediately tried to use it to obliterate Thanos. Turns out that Cube's power had already been drained and it was useless. Thanos pointed out he never specified a functional Cosmic Cube and that even devils should be careful when making deals with the Mad Titan. Needless to say, Mephisto was not pleased.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Averted hard. Mephisto is fully capable of grasping the desires and wants of good people. A prime example was in "Triumph and Torment" when he cut a deal bring Doctor Doom's mother back to life in exchange for Doctor Strange. Doom handed over Strange, and his mother seeing that her son would trade a soul for her caused her to refuse to return to life. Just as Mephisto intended.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Never ask for Mephisto help without expecting consequences. Thanos was smart enough to avoid this. A desperate Deadpool once came up with a plan to get Mephisto to break a contract with an underling of his named Vetis by sending his ally Michael to Mephisto realm, via murder. Mephisto did agree to nullify Vetis' contract in exchange for Vetis' soul with no strings attached for a change, but there was still a caveat. Michael didn't spend hours in Mephisto's realm like Deadpool expected, he was there for years.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He's usually polite, or at worst, affably snarky - and, of course, he's exceptionally charming when he wants to be. But it only serves to further highlight his wickedness.
  • Fighting a Shadow: He'll always come back as long as his dimension is still around. A powered-up Alejandra came close to killing him for real.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: He actually even modeled it on Dante's Inferno, just to mess with those that end up in it.
  • Flaming Devil: He gets more and more camp with every passing year.
  • For the Evulz: What else do you expect from an embodiment of ultimate evil?
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: More often than not.
  • Good Hurts Evil: He currently serves as the trope image.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In Spider-Man/Deadpool; he hasn't forgotten his last interaction with Spider-Man and now seeks to corrupt his soul.
  • Hate Sink: He is a demon motivated solely by his desire to make others suffer and his method for doing so is trying to offer people deals, just so he can cheat them on them. If he seems to offer a deal with no strings attached like requesting a soul, then typically he's thought of another way to screw you over.
  • Home Field Advantage: While depicted as a comparatively lesser threath compared to, say, Dormammu or Shuma-Gorath, since he often leaves his realm, Mephisto while drawing power from it is every bit as fearsome as any of them and possibly even worse.
  • Honey Trap: A Silver Surfer storyline had him pose as the deceased Nova in order to seduce the Surfer and claim his soul via Exact Words.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: He's not above making them, just to be (more of) a dick, as Sigurd the Ever-Glorious can vouch for. Mephisto tricked him into apparently signing a deal for reincarnation, only to turn out Mephisto had promised him a wheel of "Rein carnations".
    Mephisto: And let that pun be your first of many tortures.
  • Invincible Villain: Mephisto's plots can be thwarted, but it never does much to him in the long term. Actually defeating him is rare, especially if he's fought in his realm. The combined efforts of Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange in Triumph and Torment weren't able to defeat him. Doom even managed to build a weapon that destroyed Mephisto's body, but the demon simply recreated it.
  • Jackass Genie: He isn't even remotely trustworthy, except that he's magically bound to technically fulfil the terms of his agreements (at least, those agreements pertaining to souls). He will use Loophole Abuse to either ensure that he benefits the most or, and far more likely, that the recipient will have whatever they got out of the deal ruined for them.
  • Jerkass Gods: Powerful enough to convincingly pass for a deity of sorts, and he's also a total jackass who loves to screw people over for kicks.
  • Joker Immunity: On top of being immortal, even when he's seemingly been destroyed, he still comes back.
  • The Juggernaut: Mephisto almost never loses, regardless of whether or not he's fighting inside his realm. The only reason heroes survive a meeting with him most of the time is because he wants to claim their souls, and killing them would leave their souls beyond his reach.
  • Karma Houdini: Most times. For example, Mephisto has managed to avoid receiving any comeuppance from Spider-Man for his actions for years.
  • Large and in Charge: He's sometimes depicted as being as tall as a small building and big enough to easily pick human-sized characters up with one hand. Thanks to Voluntary Shapeshifting, he can appear as big or small as he wants, but this is often implied to be his true size, or close enough to it.
  • Large Ham: Depending on his mood, a stand-out case being a fight with Galactus where Mephisto managed to match the Devourer of Worlds in Ham-to-Ham Combat.
  • Legions of Hell: Among his many servants, they're surprisingly not used very much. Then again, he's far more powerful than most of them anyway.
  • Made of Evil: Probably. It's not altogether clear.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Despite his vast power and armies, he prefers guile and deception. For example, he convinced Spider-Man of all people to make a deal with him, and a Silver Surfer storyline had him goad the Surfer into apparently killing him so he'd have to live with the guilt and become impure, while the real Mephisto was unharmed.
  • Master of Illusion: All to better deceive people.
  • Medium Awareness: In Invincible Iron Man #12, he pauses a battle between himself, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Doom to complain to the reader.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: At the end of the "Damnation" series Doctor Strange manages to lock him away in a cell at the Hotel Inferno from which even he can't escape. The only setback seems to be the loss of his direct influence in Hell, as his Faustian activities aren't slowed down in the slightest. He isn't kept from people visiting his cell directly as they negotiate deals, and he still has access to all his assets. He also somehow manages to sneak in and out, as he approaches Miles Morales and the Superior Spider-Man to bargain with them without Doctor Strange or Johnny Blaze being aware of it. However, the 2019 Ghost Rider comic has Mephisto claim these were actually minor demons impersonating him.
  • Mind Rape: Tormented Doctor Doom with nightmares of his mother suffering. What he can do to someone inside his realm is even worse.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Writers can't seem to agree on exactly what he is or where he came from; since he's the Prince of Lies, this has been explained as Mephisto either not knowing himself and/or making stuff up to better confuse people. On one occasion Dormammu thought he was playing Mephisto like a fiddle, only for the exact opposite to be true, with Mephisto even calling Dormammu out on having the nerve to try and deceive him when he was the one who invented deception and manipulation.
  • Nerd in Evil's Helmet: While he's generally very suave, he still has a dorky side. It generally comes out when he's around Magma of the New Mutants.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Has been severely hurt and even completely destroyed on more than one occasion, but he always reforms. Even then, it takes some very powerful attacks to do him real damage in the first place.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Inverted. Mephisto has underlings but mostly acts on his own without their assistance.
  • Our Souls Are Different: He likes to stick the souls he claims into the bodies of demons who follow him. The process was reversed for his rival Zarathos. On many other occasions, he's seen eating and drinking them.
  • Out-Gambitted: Mephisto is smart, but not as smart as he believes. As a result he's easily caught off guard when someone is wise enough to plan for his betrayals.
    • "Triumph and Torment" saw Doctor Doom successfully scam him. Mephisto offered Doom the soul of his mother in exchange for Doctor Strange. When Doom delivered on his end, his mother refused to return to life out of disgust for what her son had just done. Mephisto knew that would happen, but he didn't count on Doom planning for it and leaving Strange with a device that let him break from the Anti-Magic prison Mephisto held him in.
    • Thanos cut a deal with Mephisto to aid against the Goddess in exchange of Cosmic Cube. Mephisto predictably tried to kill Thanos with it once he got it, but found it was powerless. He never asked for a functioning Cosmic Cube.
  • Physical God: Within his own dimension. Exactly how powerful he is comes down to the old Depending on the Writer, but two of his best showings are fighting Galactus to a near-stalemate and casually destroying an entire galaxy from his chair. Both are older examples and both, again, occurred while he was in his native dimension. Outside it, while he's still quite powerful and always very dangerous, he's nowhere near as strong as he normally would be.
  • The Plan: Many of them. Some of them evil and story driving.
  • Public Domain Character: Is either Mephistopheles or a stand in for him, depending on who is writing.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: He occasionally speaks of being at war with God himself and claims that many of his actions are done to spite Him. It's not clear if he's being genuinely serious about this (regardless of whether he's actually the Devil or not- being a demon might be enough) or if this is just him playing up his Satanic image for effect.
  • Reality Warper: His chief power, though the exact strength of it varies. Within his own realm, he's virtually The Omnipotent.
  • Rogues Gallery Transplant: Originally started out as a villain of the Silver Surfer, but he's not exclusively a Ghost Rider villain either. He also often pops up as a Black Panther nemesis, and more generally he has crossed paths with nearly every important Marvel hero at one point or another. He could even count as an enemy of many villains, including Doctor Doom.
  • Satanic Archetype: He's not the Satan; there are many wannabes who have equal claim to that title (equally invalid claims), but Mephisto is generally the most used stand-in with only one or two people introduced so far who are maybe more legit. His name comes from Mephistopheles, a demon in Germain literature who was a reluctant servant of the devil.
  • Shout-Out: The page quote is, of course, a reference to The Rolling Stones.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Sort of. While he's certainly very, very powerful and competent and has a not-insignificant amount of major accomplishments to his name, he also likes to act like he's a far bigger deal than he actually is, as beings like Chthon, Set, and Dormammu greatly dwarf him in power (unless he's in the confines of his own realm, but they aren't dependent on that) and potential reach (he generally accomplishes far more than they do, but that's because they're either locked away or act on a far larger scale, which understandably takes more time and effort).
    • This is partly strategy, however- he makes himself out to be the Ultimate Evil because that works to his advantage, making his enemies and victims fear him more as well as spreading misinformation about who and what he really is (if he even knows himself). Still arguably counts as this since he's rarely quite as successful or menacing as you'd think a genuinely powerful demon like him should be. Then again, he could be deliberately trying to appear weaker than he really is, so maybe he's playing a long-game. Regardless, he's never one to be underestimated.
    • Case in point, he once tricked the supposedly far greater Dormammu in fighting Galactus, resulting in the former getting eaten for his troubles. By comparison, the one time Galactus in Mephisto fought (again,in Mephisto's own realm), he stalemated Galactus instead. The same story also shows Mephisto-from within his own realm- effortlessly bending Umar, Dormammu's supposedly only slightly less powerful sister, to his will.
  • Soul Eating: He's been shown devouring souls quite frequently.
  • The Starscream: During his short period as adviser to Thanos, he subtly takes advantage of his confusion and turmoil upon finding himself a Supreme Being (and still being rejected by his beloved) to manipulate him into a position where he might lose the Infinity Gauntlet. He's unsuccessful as Thanos anticipated his betrayal. When he later on allied with Dormammu, he only did so so he could screw him over later, which he totally did.
  • Stupid Evil: A defining trait of his. Yeah, he always fulfills his part of a deal because he's bound by oath. That being said, he will always fulfill it to the letter and nothing more while going out of his way to screw over the other party as much as he can within the confines of the oath, and if the terms of a deal don't really allow him to do that much to mess someone or he really feels like being a dick, he'll just rob them of everything that they gained from the deal somewhere down the line. He has no reason for doing any of this, either; "just felt like being an asshole" is about as deep as his rationale gets. Needless to say, it tends to come back to bite him in the ass, but since he's virtually impossible to destroy and has a seemingly neverending supply of new entrants for pacts, "don't shit where you eat" has never really crossed his mind.
  • Super Weight: Level 6 in his own realm, wherein he stalemated Galactus. Level 5 outside of it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: While he never stays dead, there have been many times where he has been destroyed because, what can charitably called, a lack of common sense. Partially Justified by the fact that he is Made of Evil and has to be evil in every action he takes so a lot of his actions are Stupid Evil. Of course, given recent revelations in the Immortal Hulk about hell and what lies beneath it basically makes every attempt he has even made to try to influence or use the Hulk really, really dumb as like every gamma mutate the hulk has been "marked" by the One Below All as one of its "children" with the Hulk himself being a standout as the Hulk has the strongest gamma signature and the strongest connection to The One Below all and the Below-Place. Even more notable is that Mephisto himself has stated that the One Below All is "far stronger" than him.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: He once successfully laid claim to Deadpool's soul, with the intention of corrupting Wade and turning him into a ruthless enforcer for Hell. Things did not work out for 'Phisto.
  • Villainous Crush: On Magma of the New Mutants. Seeing Mephisto turn into an overcompensating dork around her is... something.
  • Villain Override: Not usually, but he did resort to it once when he felt a witch had failed him badly enough.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Considering he can look like whatever he wants, one would think he would at least project the image of better hair. His isn't as bad as Lilith's, though.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: He can and does take several forms, though his favourite seems to be a stereotypical Big Red Devil (well, tall and thin at least). Its implied that his real form is a large red lizard...thing... that he sometimes shows up as, though there's a variation there as well as sometimes it's thin, and sometimes it's an obese Fat Bastard. Likewise, and regardless of his form, sometimes he's human-sized and sometimes he's several stories tall. He also has no qualms about changing his gender.
  • Worthy Opponent: In Journey into Mystery he seems to view Loki/Kid Loki as this, and it seems relatively mutual. Both are fully aware that their apparent cooperation and pseudo-friendship is entirely a façade... but a façade both make use of and appreciate the artistry in maintaining it.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: He figured out what Loki had done at the end of Journey into Mystery, and during Agent of Asgard got the chance to say "well done" to Teen Loki for it. Since Teen Loki actually felt guilty about that whole mess, they didn't take it well.


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