Mephisto vs. The Fantastic Four #1 (1987)

I really like the idea of this miniseries, even if the execution is clunky.  Each issue, Mephisto fights a different Marvel supergroup.  The problem is, Mephisto is really kind of a dope.  He’s supposed to be super powerful and all, but he’s regularly thwarted—and usually fairly easily–and never really gets a good win.  That, and the concept of “hell” doesn’t really work in a Marvel Universe where Hela and “the devil” (from Son of Satan) and other nether demons typically coexist.

Also, he tends to act like a lawyer—threatening technicalities that “enable” him to win.  In this issue, for example, he kidnaps the Fantastic Four and Franklin, and explains that this is revenge for the indignity of being “killed” by Franklin back in F4#277.  He tortures the foursome until all but Susan are blithering idiots.  She does fairly well against him.

But he beats her, and then tells Sue that her soul, and only her soul, is “pure” enough to take the place of Franklin’s in Mephisto’s Hell.

But then when she agrees, he says that her pride is what led to her fall, because she accepted that she had a pure soul.  This is stupid.  No parent in the world would let their little boy be taken by a sick creep like Mephisto, and would switch places by whatever opportunity was available.  Pride had nothing to do with it.

Then, he goes on to say that her agreement made a binding contract and he couldn’t have kept any of them without a contract so she screwed up twice!  But again: Nonsense.  If Mephisto is in fact playing by legal rules of contracting, he would know that a contract made under duress AND under false pretenses cannot be binding, particularly when the bound party is not represented by counsel and did not have a part in negotiating the terms of the agreement.  It’s called an adhesion contract.  Look it up.

Nice art by John Buscema (but not his best), and very nice corner box.

I graded this as a C.  I almost gave it a C-, but it’s a solidly average book.  Nothing terrible, if you can accept the premise and the clunky dialogue.

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