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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Son of Satan, Missouri Needs You

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 9:48 AM

click to enlarge son_of_satan.jpg

The Avengers, a bunch of glory boy film stars who broke into show biz through comic books in the 1960s, are going to star in yet another comic book series. The new series, U.S. Avengers (or more accurately, U.$. Avengers), launches with a wallet-busting promotion.

Apparently, the first issue will be printed with 52 variant covers representing all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Canada. The gimmick is that each state will be gifted an Avenger to represent it, in the mistaken belief that comic fans and staunch state’s rights advocates will buy a copy or two of their state's assigned hero.

Just how these superheroes are being assigned is a mystery. New York-based Luke Cage is on the cover of the New York issue, but Russian-born lady spy Black Widow is Connecticut's darling, thereby putting the lie to the title; Russia is not a part of the U.S. (that won't happen until Trump and Putin exchange rings at the inauguration). Native New Yorker Captain America got stuck with Delaware, which could be a hint — is Joe Biden Captain America? (I'd buy that book!)

So what of Missouri? Oh, don't you worry — gun loving, city-slicker-hating Missourah will get an Avenger, but he or she has not yet been revealed (put your hand down, Greitens — real heroes don't fire full-auto weapons with their erections).

Judging by the willy-nilly way Marvel is distributing Avengers, we're gonna get stuck with some dink like Swordsman, a villain whose power was "I have a sword" and who briefly joined the team under false pretenses in the mid-'70s while manipulating his more powerful female partner Mantis — we'd elect that dick governor tomorrow if he could run. But there's a better option.

St. Louisan Steve Gerber wrote a run of stories for Marvel Spotlight in the '70s that centered on Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan. The Son of Satan was just who he said he was — a demon out of hell whose dad was the ultimate bad guy (yes, the '70s were a weird time for comic books). Hellstrom only got interesting when Gerber took over writing him. He moved the infernal antihero to St. Louis for a job at Gateway University. The fictitious university was a thinly-veiled SLU, which was maybe a sly reference to the origins of the well-known Exorcist story. While Hellstrom was in town he duked it out with a supernatural menace in Babler Park, uncovered the mystery of 4,000 holes that appeared overnight in Forest Park, and eventually fought a baddie atop an architecturally confusing Gateway Arch.

Is Hellstrom the best demonic superhero? No, that'd be Jack Kirby's the Demon. But Hellstrom is definitely the best superhero (demonic or otherwise) to ever be temporarily based in St. Louis. He was never an Avenger, but so what? Black Widow ain't got shit to do with Connecticut, either. If the Loop Walk of Fame has taught us anything, it's that a short stay in St. Louis is all it takes to be declared an honorary son or daughter of the state. Marvel, give us the Son of Satan — just for the hell of it.

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