(Editor’s note: This is another in a series of irregularly-scheduled columns by Managing Editor Byron Brewer, mainly dealing with cosmic comics and its many denizens. Mr. Brewer’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CosmicBookNews.com. He welcomes both raves and opposing views.)
I first encountered this demon in the pages of Silver Surfer in what I believe was his first appearance. Since the Surfer under the scripting of Stan Lee was such a noble yet tortured soul, Mephisto was presented as a truly evil and manipulative juxtaposition in the vein of Satan. A more worthless and treacherous scum has never been presented in the history of Marvel, IMHO.
Mephisto is an extremely powerful immortal demonic entity possessing magical powers and abilities gained by manipulation of the forces of magic. He is capable of using his power for a variety of uses, including superhuman strength, shape and size shifting, projecting illusions, manipulating memories, altering time and is highly resistant to injury.
The character has been shown to be energized by sources of evil in the human realm, such as the alien Dire Wraiths. Like other demons, Mephisto is symbiotically linked to, and considerably more powerful within, his own realm, and the character is able to transform the structure at will. Within it he has threatened multiple solar systems, and stalemated a nourished Galactus until the latter ran out of energy and threatened to consume it. If Mephisto's physical form is destroyed, the character will regenerate and reform in his domain.
Mephisto is known for acquiring souls, but cannot subjugate the will of another being without the victim's permission. In keeping with satanic tradition, there is usually some form of pact.
The demon has been a perennial villain in the Marvel U. and is responsible for a number of evil acts, including capturing and holding the soul of Cynthia von Doom -- the mother of Dr. Doom -- until Dr. Strange and Doom freed her to ascend to Heaven; and posing as Satan to create the Ghost Rider by bonding the demon Zarathos to Johnny Blaze.
Mephisto acted as servant of the mad Titan Thanos during the War of the Gems, seeking to attain that power for himself. He is also responsible for capturing the souls of heroes Reed Richards (whose intelligence was also stolen by Mephisto), the Invisible Woman and Franklin Richards due to a botched summoning by an exorcist; furthermore, he creates his “son” Blackheart, a demonic entity that plagues many of Earth's heroes; and manipulates the sorcerer Master Pandemonium into gathering scattered fragments of his soul.
When the Scarlet Witch attempts to use magic to conceive children with her then-husband, the Vision, an android, she unknowingly summons two of the soul fragments which are born as her infant twins. The revelation of her children's origin, followed by their loss when reabsorbed into Mephisto, drives the Scarlet Witch insane. Mephisto also tries to destroy the Avenger Hawkeye when he enters Hell to try and save the soul of his believed-deceased wife, Mockingbird.
And famously, Mephisto healed May Parker in exchange for changing the personal timelines of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson so that they never married, claiming he did so only because he hated their happiness (also adding that he has no interest in taking Spider-Man's soul because such a deal results in him tormenting a soul that is willing to accept the punishment because their sacrifice saved another).
So beware! You never know what sewer Mephisto may rise smoke-like out of next!