August 15, 2010

Marvel Snapshot: Spotlight on – The Darkhold

Hello and welcome back to another great spotlight right here in Marvel Snapshot. This week will be a little unique because I’ll be spotlighting an item instead of a person or team. Right now, in my Ye Olde School Cafe’ column, I’m discussing some of Marvel’s horror greats from the 1970s. Most of these books have a common denominator – The Darkhold. If you don’t know about it, you’re in for a real treat, because this book has had more of an influence on good and evil in the Marvel Universe than any other object by a long shot.

So let’s get right down to it talking about this evil piece of Marvel’s history. First off, you need to understand that the Darkhold was written by one evil being named Chthon. He wrote down all his evil spells and knowledge to pass down to all his worshipers and any evil people that wanted to use his “dark” or “chaos” magic. He is one of the Elder Gods of Earth, and has been around since before the Earth was populated by any living creature. He and the other Elder Gods existed for a while in peace, but eventually a war broke out and they started killing each other to absorb the others’ power. Eventually, Gaea was the only Elder that was peaceful and left to roam Earth since all of the others were dead or banished to other dimensions. At this point, Chthon was opposed by many, but also had some people under his spell as well. These were the times before Atlantis sunk beneath the sea. The warrior Kull slew Thulsa Doom and then Doom’s followers  used the Darkhold to create the first vampire, Varnae. Conan also had a few run ins with the followers of the Darkhold.

The pages of Chthon’s writing were bound together for the first time by Morgan Le Fey around the year 600. Later, priests of all different religions kept the pages out of the hands of evil for centuries. Around 1100 or so, a crazy priest named Aelfric decided to bind the pages again, but he was then burned at the stake for his witchcraft. The pages were imbued with dark magic and cannot be destroyed, so they survived. The pages were safe for a while, but then in the 1600s, Dracula came to know of its existence and wanted it for himself. Dracula knew that contained within the pages of this book was the Montesi Formula. The formula is a spell that can destroy all vampires. Dracula failed to obtain it, but years later Grigori Russoff (an ancestor of Jack Russell-Werewolf by Night) attempted to break into Castle Dracula. He was bitten by a werewolf that Dracula had imprisoned there, and thus began the Russoff (Russell) family curse.

Grigori’s descendant, Gregor Russoff, who had also been a victim of the family curse, thought that if he brought Chthon to this realm, he could cure him. This took place at Wundagore Mountain, and Chthon almost killed Russoff for his arrogance in thinking he could summon the Elder. Chthon almost made it fully into this realm, but was opposed by The High Evolutionary and Magnus. Together they drove the demon back into his shadow realm. After the Russoffs had the book for many years, most of the book’s spells were put into the journal of one of the Russoffs, and it was passed down to the next of kin. Dracula again tried to obtain that, but was stopped by Quincy Harker and his band of vampire hunters. The diary was obtained by Morgan La Fey, though. Jack Russell then turned over the Darkhold to a priest, who was in turn then possessed by Aelfric’s spirit. The book was used at one point by Doctor Strange to rid the world of all vampires, but shortly after, the sorceress Marie Laveau reversed the spell, bringing them back to their undead state.

This is a well traveled book, no doubt about it. Dr. Doom even managed to get his hands on a page or two and open a gateway to Belasco’s realm. The book’s pages went missing from the Vatican, and certain people started receiving black envelopes with a page inside enticing them to recite the spells. Eventually, Victoria Montesi , Dr. Strange, and the Midnight Sons thwarted Lillith and her followers during the Rise of the Midnight Sons story line. The book’s author, Chthon, has possessed many people who have invoked the writings of this book. The Scarlet Witch, Modred the Mystic, and many more have been under the influence of the dark book’s evil writings. The most recent time I personally saw it was in Mighty Avengers #21-23. The story revolved around Modred the Mystic and Quicksilver.

Suggested Reading
Conan the Barbarian #244-245 – vol. 1
Werewolf by Night #3, 4, 13, 14, 15 – vol. 1
Tomb of Dracula #18 – vol. 1
Mystic Arcana #1-4 – L.S.
Dr. Strange #14, 59-62 – vol. 1
Darkhold #1-16 vol. 1

Billy Dunleavy



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by billy dunleavy, billy dunleavy. billy dunleavy said: The book responsible for the creation of vampires is called the Darkhold. […]

  2. […] possessed by Chthon).At this point, we get a quick history lesson on Chthon and his book, The Darkhold. After that, as things are looking desperate, one of the High Evolutionary’s Knights of […]

  3. […] then started training his New Men to fight and protect the mountain. Baron Russoff tried to use the Darkhold to cure himself of lycanthropy, but inadvertently released Chthon from his prison. Two children […]

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