Multiverse of Madness: 8 Marvel Characters Who Have Been Corrupted By The Darkhold In The Comics
After a long wait, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has finally hit theatres. The film's key conflict stems from the fact that Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has become corrupted by the evil magical tome known as the Darkhold, and developed an obsession with reuniting with her lost children, with little regard for who might be hurt in the process.
The Darkhold's first canon appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe came in WandaVision, as a possession of Agatha Harkness, and later Wanda Maximoff. However, the cursed book has a long history in the world of Marvel Comics. Created by the Elder God Chthon, The Darkhold exists throughout the Marvel world in various forms, intended to spread Chthon's dark influence. As you would expect, the Darkhold is most often featured in stories involving Marvel's magic users, such as Doctor Strange and, of course, the Scarlet Witch. However, the evil book's influence occasionally creeps out into the wider Marvel universe, and causes quite a bit of trouble for our favourite heroes when it does.
Here's eight characters who have found themselves corrupted by The Darkhold in Marvel comics.
1. Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch
Born at the foot of Mt. Wundagore, within which Chthon had been imprisoned for centuries, Wanda Maximoff was once especially susceptible to the influence of Chthon and the Darkhold. In fact, some of Wanda's more troubling acts, including the murder of her teammates in Avengers Disassembled, and the decimation of the Mutant population in House of M, have been retroactively attributed to the Darkhold's influence. Wanda describes the book as having ruined her life. However, in present day stories, with a greater understanding of her powers as the Scarlet Witch, Wanda has become the world's greatest defense against Chthon's power.
During the 2o21 'Darkhold' event, Wanda gathered a team of five of her fellow heroes, chosen by fate to battle Chthon as the Darkhold Defenders. Each member of the group must read just enough of the Darkhold to temper themselves with madness, but unfortunately, they each read a little too far, going from 'Darkhold Defenders' to the monstrous 'Darkhold Defiled'.
Despite this misstep, Wanda took the risk of still travelling with them to the Other Realm to face Chthon on his own home turf. Chthon severely under estimates the Scarlet Witch due to his hold over her in the past, but after the Elder God is weakened by the Darkhold Defiled, Wanda is able to fuse the Darkhold with herself, which grants her complete control over Chthon, which she uses to free her teammates of his influence and restore their sanity.
2. Iron Man
During the 'Darkhold' comic event, Tony Stark is summoned by the Scarlet Witch to serve as the Dreamer, one of five heroes prophesised to fight Chthon as the Darkhold Defenders. When Tony reads from The Darkhold, his history as Iron Man is rewritten.
Instead of building the Iron Man suit to help humanity as a hero, Tony's Darkhold-induced madness prompts him to declare the human body obsolete. After Tony's own body is entirely replaced by his suit, he builds an army of suits, and lures people to climb inside of them on the promise that their injuries will be healed, only for the poor victims to discover that they will never escape the suit. Soon, all of New York has been transformed into Frankenstein-like metal monsters. Thankfully, Tony's madness is cured by Wanda at the story's conclusion.
In 2021's 'Darkhold' story, Spider-Man joins Wanda's team of specially chosen Darkhold Defenders as The Fool. Despite the dangers the Darkhold poses, Spidey easily agrees to help due to a past incident with the Darkhold and one of his own most dangerous enemies, Carnage.
After reading from the Darkhold, Spider-Man is transported to a reality where the world's molecular stability has begun to unravel, causing everything from buildings to people to literally fall apart. The only thing that can hold things together, albeit temporarily, is Spidey's web, leaving the hero run off his feet trying to fix everything. After finding Gwen Stacy dead, Spider-Man is driven completely mad, killing Mr Fantastic and using his remains to create a longer-lasting web fluid.
After restoring the heroes' sanity, the Scarlet Witch allows them each to remember small snippets of their Darkhold defiled world to remind them of who they do not want to be. Spider-Man is the most visibly troubled by what he remembers.
4. Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp
In late 2021, Janet Van Dyne, better known as The Wasp, was recruited into Wanda's Darkhold Defenders as The Artist. After reading the Darkhold, Janet is forced to relive one of the darkest parts of her history: The unpleasant chain of events that led to the failure of her marriage to Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man.
As long-term comic fans will be aware, Hank infamously slapped Janet during an argument, leading to the couple's divorce. However, instead of simply divorcing Hank, Darkhold-corrupted Janet brutally stabs him to death. Thankfully, Janet's sanity is restored by Wanda after Chthon's defeat.
5. Black Bolt
Black Bolt, the King of the Inhumans, was prophesised to join the Darkhold Defenders as The Stoic. At first reluctant to take up the cause out of fear of neglecting his responsibility to the Inhuman race, he eventually agrees when the other heroes point out that the Inhumans would be in just as much danger as everyone else if Chthon were to escape into their world.
Black Bolt's Darkhold madness drives him into an identity crisis, as he is transported into an alternate reality where he is unsure whether he is truly himself, or his evil brother, Maximus, who had been plotting to steal Black Bolt's identity as part of a coup for the Throne of Attilan. He becomes the most dangerous of the Darkhold Defiled heroes, as his insanity robs him of complete control over his dangerous Sonic Boom voice.
Blade, though slightly distrustful of Wanda due to past encounters, agrees to join the Darkhold Defenders after encouragement from the others. After reading from The Darkhold, Blade envisions a world where a large percentage of the population have been mysteriously transformed into vampires. This reality is ruled over by a vampiric Kingpin. Those that aren't vampires are considered little more than food.
Amadeus Cho, proclaiming himself to be a good vampire, searches for a cure to vampirisim, and seeks out Blade for help. Unfortunately for Amadeus, the Darkhold-corrupted Blade has abandoned hope of any good in the world, and now hunts both vampires and humans for sport. While Amadeus's ultimate fate is left unrevealed at the conclusion of the Darkhold: Blade comic issue, it definitely doesn't look good. Luckily, along with the other Darkhold Defiled, Blade's sanity is ultimately restored by Wanda.
In one Spider-Man story, a Darkhold worshipping cult, The Darkholders, take interest in the dangerous symbiote villain, Carnage, under the belief that a prophecy within the book refers to him. The Darkholders kidnap Carnage's host, Cletus Kasady, in preparation for a ritual to release Chthon.
Unfortunately, instead of taking Carnage as a sacrifice as the Darkholders expected, Chthon imbues the symbiote and it's host with a portion of his power. With Spider-Man currently out of the picture, it is left to a group of the Spidey cast's best anti-heroes to subdue the mystically enhanced Carnage before too much damage is done.
During Arthurian times, a copy of The Darkhold was sealed away in a tower to keep it's evil from spreading through the land. A young Apprentice Magician named Modred (likely intended as a play on Arthur's enemy Mordred) infiltrates the tower in search of the book, naively believing that it could be a force for good in the right hands. He finds himself confronted with Chthon's Earthbound form, then known as the Other, and battles it until he is forced to give in to the Darkhold's corruption in order to protect his loved ones from it.
Modred's Master reluctantly seals him away. Centuries later, Modred is accidentally resurrected by a pair of young magicians. At heart, the poor Mystic remains a good person, but the Darkhold's influence is still present within his soul, and he has no way of knowing when Chthon will take over. For this reason, Modred can be either very helpful or very dangerous. Our heroes never know which one they will get.
While The Darkhold itself is believed destroyed by the end of Multiverse of Madness, some fans believe that it's creator, the Elder God Chthon, may still be lurking. We likely haven't seen the last of Darkhold corruption in the MCU.
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