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Hell (DC Comics)

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Title: Hell (DC Comics)  
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Subject: The Sandman (Vertigo), Spectre (comics), Lucifer (DC Comics), The Books of Magic, Hell (disambiguation), Etrigan the Demon, Lobo (DC Comics), Hitman (DC Comics), Sebastian Faust, Duma (DC Comics)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hell (DC Comics)

Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (historical) DC Special Series #8 (1977); (modern) Swamp Thing Annual #2 (1985)
Created by (historical) Bob Haney (writer), Ric Estrada, Dick Giordano (artists); (modern) Alan Moore (writer), Stan Woch, Alfredo Alcala (artists)
In story information
Type Dimension
Notable people DC Comics
Blaze and Satanus
Etrigan the Demon
Vertigo Comics
Notable races DC Comics
Fallen angels, Demons, Imps, Succubi, Incubi, Dybbuk, Rhymers, Howlers
Vertigo Comics
Fallen angels, Demons, Lilim, Djinn
Notable locations Purgatory, Limbo

Hell (also Gehenna, Hades, Hel, Jahannam, Sheol, Tartarus) is a fictional location, an infernal underworld utilized in titles published by DC Comics. It is the locational antithesis of the Silver City. The DC Comics location known as Hell is based heavily on its depiction in Abrahamic mythology. Aside from a brief appearance in DC Special Series #8 (1977) that was never referred to again, the DC Comics concept of Hell was first mentioned in Swamp Thing (vol. 2) #27 (July 1984), described by Alan Moore, and was first seen in Swamp Thing Annual #2 (January 1985), written by Moore and depicted by Steve Bissette and John Totleben.

The hierarchy of Hell, specifically the triumvirate of (Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Azazel), was first depicted in The Sandman #4 (April 1989), and was created by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth; in the story, Lucifer had been forced to accept the rule due to the disruption caused by the Darkness' attack in Swamp Thing. Hellblazer would add in the First of the Fallen, who predates Lucifer. In Who's Who in the DC Universe #11 (July 1991), the entry on "Hell's Hierarchy" included all the elements of Gaiman's version, plus John Constantine's archfoe Nergal, Agony and Ecstasy (from Hellblazer #12), Asteroth, Abaddon the Destroyer, Morax, and Superman's demonic foe Blaze, who, with Satanus, came to rule Hell in DC's 2008-2009 Reign in Hell limited series.

Publication history

Because of the multiplicity of imprints and acquisitions under the DC Comics umbrella, there have been many versions of "Satan" and "Hell".

At Quality Comics in 1942, the hero known as Midnight encountered the Devil and his domineering Wife after his untimely death.[1][2] At Fawcett Comics in 1942, Ibis the Invincible confronted a demonic entity who inexplicably named itself "Satan".[3] From DC Comics, The pages of Showcase #60 (January 1966) featured the first appearance of Azmodus. And Justice League of America #49 (November 1966) introduced the demon Abaddon, who possesses a farmer named Hiram Spiezel. From DC Comics, Lucifer debuted in a dream sequence in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #65 (December 1962), and eventually for real in DC Special Series #8 (1977). The latter appearance depicted Lucifer in Hell with an advisory board consisting of Guy Fawkes, Benedict Arnold, Adolf Hitler, Jack the Ripper, Nero, and Bluebeard, and controlling a human operative named Edward Dirkes. Jason Blood has a nightmare of Hell in Jack Kirby's The Demon (vol. 1) #14 (November 1973), but otherwise, the concept is in absentia other than through retcon. Etrigan the Demon debuted in the first issue of the series, but Hell was never actually mentioned in a concrete manner in Demon stories until Swamp Thing (vol. 2) #27, in which Alan Moore made the first canonical claim for Etrigan being a denizen of Hell, referring to his promotion to a Rhyming Demon, and having him speak consistently in rhyme, which he did not do during the Kirby series. Many stories in DC's various mystery titles featured "Satan," and at least one, in Weird Mystery Tales #4, featured Lucifer, but those stories may or may not be in continuity. Satan did appear, along with an angelic pre-fall Etrigan, in one of the four possible origins of The Phantom Stranger (three of which are Judeo-Christian inspired, a fourth, science fiction) in Secret Origins (vol. 3) #10 (January 1987).

Aside from DC Special Series #8, which was ignored in subsequent continuity, Hell made its actual first appearance in Swamp Thing (vol. 2) Anunual #2. Subsequently it would appear in issues #49-#50, in which there is a war going on in Hell, and Etrigan is there. The Spectre's failure in his intervention in this conflict leads to a reduction of his power as described in The Spectre (vol. 2) #1 (April 1987). While Hell appeared in issues of that series, we never saw any but characters from the stories condemned to go there and the occasional demon tormenting them, such as in issue #21. Hell subsequently appeared in issues of Blue Devil. In The Sandman #4 (April 1989), we are introduced to the leaders of Hell, a trinity consisting of Lucifer, an angel drawn to resemble David Bowie; Beelzebub, a large fly, and Azazael, a shadowy, many-eyed creature (Azazel had previously appeared as an incubus in the Madame Xanadu story in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2 and The Unexpected #190 (March/April 1978)). In April 1990, this trinity (albeit with Beelzebub referred to as Belial) appeared in Secret Origins #48, presenting the never-before-told origin of Stanley and His Monster, in which the trinity expels a monster to Earth for being too nice, where he is discovered by Stanley Dover, who names him Spot. This version of Hell continued to appear in issues of The Demon (vol. 3), and The Books of Magic.

In the second Swamp Thing annual, Hell was said to be a place that beings went to only because they believed that they belonged there. During the fourth Sandman story arc, Season of Mists, in issues 21-28 (January–July 1991), Lucifer decides to abandon Hell, and forces all of these beings to leave. He gives the key to Dream, who does not want it, and has many divine beings, such as Odin, Bast, and Shivering Jemmy, a Lord of Chaos, attempt to persuade him to give the key to them. Odin attempts to bribe Dream with the Twilight Dimension of Ragnarok from The Last Days of the Justice Society of America Special, specifically because it contains his successor's grandfather, Hawkman (Carter Hall), and his protégé, Sandman (Wesley Dodds),[4] but this fails. Eventually, Dream gives Hell to the angels Remiel and Duma, who, denied reentry into the Silver City, reinstate Hell as a place of spiritual rehabilitation rather than punishment. This version of Hell is also depicted in the Stanley and His Monster 1993 limited series, an October 1993 Phantom Stranger one shot under the Vertigo imprint by Alisa Kwitney and Guy Davis, the 1993-1994 Kid Eternity series by Ann Nocenti and Sean Phillips, also under the Vertigo imprint, albeit with Beelzebub having taken human form, and Batman #544 (July 1997), which guest-starred Etrigan.

Hellblazer under Garth Ennis would have its own Satan, and to avoid clashes with Sandman this was turned in Hellblazer #59 into the First of the Fallen: the first being in Hell, predating Lucifer and the failed uprising in Heaven. The First and two other demons ruled Hell once Lucifer had quit, with the two angels said to be only nominally in charge, and in a fourth wall moment the First complained about "those endless, bloody triumverates". John Constantine, to save himself, set up the First to be taken out and the succubus Chantinelle took control, but the First retook power shortly after.

The Master Baytor was nominally the ruler of Hell for a brief period, but spent the whole time rambling incoherently. (Hitman #17)

In the Lucifer series, which ran from 1999–2006, A human is eventually placed in charge of Hell while the title character roams Earth and owns a piano bar as depicted in the Sandman story arc The Kindly Ones (#57-69, February 1994-July 1995).

The Human Defense Corps mini-series in 2003 detailed the US Military designation for Demonic entities as "Hostile Species NHH-014". The Human Defense Corps were able to defeat a minor Lord of the Damned named Scarmaglione, and Sergeant Montgomery Kelly assumed his powers and claimed his clan and seat for the United States of America, his status as minor ruler was confirmed by Neron, who was then the First Seated of Hell.[5][6][7]

Superman briefly became lord of Hell in Superman #666 (October 2007).

The 2008-2009 limited series Reign in Hell created by Keith Giffen and Tom Derenick[8][9] introduces a new status quo for the DC Comics version of Hell; it also gave readers specific geographical references, and defined a codex of rules that govern the damned. Two years after Reign in Hell, DC decided to remove all DC Universe characters from the Vertigo imprint, though Vertigo would have its own version of Constantine.[10] Rumors are flying that Justice League Dark wil be Constantine's only title when Peter Milligan leaves Hellblazer, both of which he writes.


In the DC Universe, Hell is an alternate plane of reality, traditionally accessible only by those of demonic heritage, beings of a higher order, and those whose souls have been barred from entering the Silver City. The DC Comics Hell is a debased reflection of Earth, so as Earth became more technologically or socially advanced so does Hell. Due to an effect not unlike time dilation "[a] day in Hell is equal to a minute's passage on Earth". All denizens of DC's Comics' infernal region known as Hell are all capable of using some form of maleficium, the most powerful infernal magic users are the ruling gentry of Hell, and their enforcers the Necro-Mages, Forges, Renderers, Howlers, and Rhyming Demons. Every building, every piece of furniture, weapons, armor, clothing, food, etc. in hell is made from the bodies of the damned. The damned are put through a process called rendering by the Exegesis Guild, in order to manufacture the raw materials of Hell.[11]

Fictional history

During the Final Night event, the Rhyming Demon known as Etrigan offered to bring all of the living people of Earth into Hell so they could stay warm.[12] During the "Day of Judgment" storyline, with the help of Etrigan a fallen angel named Asmodel took control of the Spectre and sought to destroy Heaven and Hell. He used the Spectre's powers to extinguish the hellfire font, causing Hell to freeze over. A team of heroes including Superman, Zatanna, Faust, Firestorm, The Atom, Enchantress and Deadman were sent deep into Hell in order to reignite the hellfire font. The re-ignition required an act of true evil, so Sebastian Faust took matters into his own hands and slit the Enchantress' throat, thereby satisfying the infernal conditions. The story ends with a three way battle between Neron, Asmodel and Hal Jordan for control over the Spectre Force.[13]

Reign in Hell

Main article: Reign in Hell

During the events of Reign in Hell, the Underworld is thrown into a massive conflict as Neron and his generals are confronted with a rebellion led by Lord Satanus and Lady Blaze, the rulers of Purgatory. Neron soon discovered that the rebel demons were offering the damned hope, and that this was a powerful spur. Recognizing what would happen if the damned rose up against him, Neron has his consort Lilith the "mother of all earthborn fiends" summon all vampires, ghouls, werewolves, and infernally powered humans to Hell.

Lobo who is confined to the Labyrinth, Hell's prison is freed as a result of the titanic battle between Etrigan the Demon and Blue Devil, a battle which results in Etrigan's temporary death at Blue Devil's hands.[14]

Lord Satanus reveals that he used the war to spread a modified viral version of DMN, the anagogic drug he had once used to destabilize Metropolis and confound Superman. This version of DMN is airborne and when combined with the magical word "Shazam" it transforms Neron and all of Hell's demons into soulless humans, all except Lilith who was not a true Demon. Satanus then decapitates Neron and takes over as Hell's ruler.[15] The Damned turn their rage upon the now human and powerless demons and imps, slaughtering them wholesale, and damning themselves anew.

Lady Blaze later takes advantage of her brother's momentary weakness during a moment when he allows Black Alice to touch him and sample his powers, this action shatters Alice's psyche and allows Lady Blaze to drain Lord Satanus' power and take the throne for herself. At the end of the series the Unspoken Principium of Hell is revealed by Doctor Occult "You can leave whenever you want," [16] reiterating what was said about Hell in the Gaiman version.


In the Reign in Hell mini-series the Infernal Dominion is divided up into nine provinces, each of which have their own rulers. All rulers bowed to Neron. The Nine Provinces included Pandemonia, The Odium, The Gull, Praetori, Internecia, Ament, Labyrinth, Err, and Purgatory. Below see descriptions of the Nine Provinces of the Infernal Dominion as depicted in the Reign in Hell mini-series.

  • Pandemonia - The First Province, home of Hell's high caste demons and of Hell's throne, the first seat of the Dominus or Domina.
  • Odium - The Second Province, the industrial and manufacturing center. Home of the rendering factories and the Renderers.
  • Gull - The Third Province, the mercantile and commerce center.
  • Praetori - The Fourth Province, administrative and governmental ministries.
  • Internecia - The Fifth Province, the military and enforcement ministries.
  • Ament - The Sixth Province, home of the cultural propaganda ministry.
  • Labyrinth - The Seventh Province, judicial detainment in hell's only prison.
  • Err - The Eighth Province, the ministry of theological suppression.
  • Purgatory - The Ninth Province, the place of secondary damnation, it was formerly ruled by Blaze and Satanus. Anyone can leave Purgatory and enter Hell, but they can never return.
  • The Selvage - The Selvage is the infernal aether, a dimensional waste which separates and surrounds the Infernal Provinces, all passage between Provinces must pass through the Selvage. The very nature of the Selvage rejects magic.

Infernal Hosts

According to the Reign in Hell mini-series, Blaze the sister of Satanus is the current ruler of Hell, she succeeds her brother who in turn succeeded Neron. The mainstream DC Comics Hell always has a single ruler known as the "First Seated of the Infernal Dominion" and holding the title of Dominus (male) or Domina (female), the first such dominus was Neron, the current domina is Blaze, sister of Satanus, and daughter of the Wizard Shazam.

The First Seated rules by their "Infernal will and chthonic way", they are addressed as the "Lord (or Lady) of the Hosts of Hell, first seated of the entire Infernal Dominion".

First Seated

  • Blaze - Former co-ruler of Purgatory, current Domina, the First Seated of the Infernal Dominion of Hell, daughter of the Wizard Shazam.
  • Satanus - Former co-ruler of Purgatory, and former Dominus, First Seated of the Infernal Dominion, son of the Wizard Shazam.
  • Neron - Neron is known as the Prince of Lies. He mysteriously returned from obscurity several years ago, and soon established himself as the ruler of Hell. He is the former Dominus, First Seated of the Infernal Dominion.[17]


  • Abaddon - Guardian and oracle of the lowest circle of Hell.[18]
  • Asmodel - Asmodel is a fallen angel, the former leader of the Bull-Host an elite order tasked with protecting the Silver City. Asmodel served as Neron's Dominion Overseer, in charge of the armies of the Dominion.[19]
  • Belial - The and father of Etrigan and Merlin. Belial served as Neron's Archfiend of Internal Security, his spies kept watch on Damned and Demon alike.[20]
  • Lilith - Mother of all earthbound atrocities, first wife of the progenitor Adam of Judeo-Christian mythology. She holds dominion over any human empowered by infernal energies, as well as the succubi, incubi, lilim, werewolves, ghouls and vampires.
  • Lobo - former prisoner in Labyrinth, Lobo now serves the First Seated of Hell.[21]
  • Myrddin - Myrrdin is the modern version of DC Comics' Merlin as introduced in the Trials of Shazam maxi-series. He is the son of Belial and a human woman, and half-brother of the Demons Etrigan and Lord Scapegoat.[22]
  • Mordecai Smyt - A tactical genius from the Crusades who served as one of Satanus' generals.[23]
  • Nebiros - Ruler of one of an unnamed infernal province, nemesis of Blue Devil.[24]
  • Prince Ra-Man - A powerful magician who served as Satanus' Secretary of State.[11]
  • Shamma - A protoplasmic shapeshifter who served as Satanus' chief of intelligence.[23]
  • Thing-that-cannot-die - Resident of a prison called the "Region Beyond", which may be a section of Labyrinth Prison.
  • Trigon - Trigon is an Archfiend and ruler of an unnamed Infernal Province.[25]


  • The Arkannone - The "Lords of Gunfire".[26]
  • Asmodeus - A minor Duke who is believed to be the son of a demoness named Naamah and the Phantom Stranger.[27]
  • Baphomet - A 6th century demon who confronted Arak, Son of Thunder.[28]
  • Black Nergal - The demon known as Black Nergal fought the Spectre in More Fun Comics #67.[29]
  • Bloodklott - A very bad Rhymer who is considered an ally of Etrigan.[30]
  • Etrigan - Son of Belial and a prominent Rhymer who made a failed bid for Hell's throne.[31]
  • Exegesis Guild - The Exegesis Guild controls manufacturing in the Odium; they command the Renderers, machines capable of transmuting damned souls into building materials, and are Hell's architects, using the rendered brick and mortar in their projects.[11]
  • Forge - Forges are robotic constructs built by the Exegesis Guild, they are tasked with scouring anomalies from Hell.[14]
  • Grockk, the Devil's Son - Due to his unique physical appearance, Grockk appears to be related to the demon Etrigan. A Dial H for Hero villain.[32][33][34]
  • Howlers - Howlers are one of the Infernal Hosts, they are described as lycanthropes, so they appear to be infernal werewolves.[14] They have also been mentioned in Merlin's Eternity Book and have been known to work for Morgaine Le Fey.
  • Incendiaries - Incendiaries are living hellfire constructs used by Satanus' armies.[35]
  • Lord Scapegoat - The older brother of Etrigan and his sometimes ally.[36]
  • Morax - The Bull-Beast of Stygia, a sometimes ally of Etrigan.[37]
  • Necro-Mages - Part of the Infernal Hosts, the Necro-Mages under Neron were tasked with monitoring all magical activity in the Dominion.[14]
  • Rhavenj - Rhavenj is a minotaur-like purple skinned vengeance demon from Action Comics #569.[38]
  • Rhymers - are one of the Infernal Hosts, Rhymers like Etrigan are compelled to rhyme all spoken word conversations.
  • Scabbies - according to the Yellow Peri, the Scabbies are Angels who were captured and tortured by demons. They appear to have become cannibals, feeding on demon and damned alike.
  • Shathan - Shathan the Eternal is a giant demon who fought the Spectre in Showcase #61.[39]
  • Xolotl - Xolotl is the demon guardian of the "Mictlan Gate", servant of Lord Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec death god.[40]

Notable Damned

  • Baal - A Semitic fertility and storm god confined to a temple hidden in an unnamed corner of Hell.[41][42]
  • Buzz - Buzz was born Gaius Marcus, a Roman Patrician from 41 AD, he was a frequent nemesis of the fallen angel Linda Danvers.[43]
  • Chthon - One of Echidna's monstrous children, guardian of the "Pillars of Unreason".[44]
  • Daemon - An incubus who assaulted Supergirl.[45]
  • Echidna - The Mother of Monsters, to whom Power Girl promises to return once a year for instruction.[46]
  • Demons Three - Abnegazar, Rath & Ghast are three proto-demons who predate humanity, and yet are children of Lilith.[47]
  • Mawzir - The ten-armed, Nazi, gun-wielding hitman of Hell.[48]

Lesser Damned

  • Barbariccia - A demonic astral guard.[6]
  • Baytor - An ally of the Demon Etrigan.[49] Later escaped Hell and became a bartender in Noonan's Bar, Gotham City.
  • Calcabrina - A demon from Scarmaglione's clan who was captured by the Human Defense Corps.[50]
  • Scarmaglione - A minor Lord from the Human Defense Corps mini-series.[51]
  • Sergeant Montgomery Kelly - Member of the Human Defense Corps, killed the minor demon lord Scarmaglione and takes his place.[7][52]
  • Spot ("Thpot") - Also known as Stanley's Monster, he has befriended a human named Stanley Dover.[53][54]

Notable Half-Demons

  • Black Alice - A young woman whose infernally tinged powers allows her to steal magical energy.
  • Blue Devil - Former movie stuntman turned hero.
  • Creeper - A hero somehow bonded to one of the Damned.
  • Felix Faust - A damned sorcerer.
  • Linda Danvers - A fallen angel summoned to hell by Lilith.
  • Lord Satanis - a nameless warlock from the far future who sold his soul to Neron for power while residing in 14th century Britain.[55]
  • Raven - Daughter of the archfiend Trigon.
  • Sabbac - A cursed human able to take on demonic power through the use of a word of power.
  • Sebastian Faust - Son of Felix Faust and also damned.
  • White Magician - A powerful human warlock able to summon a demonic aspect after selling his soul to one of Hell's minions.
  • Witchfire - A homunculus sorceress.

Infernal artifacts

  • Ace of Winchesters - A powerful demon forged weapon capable of slaying any mortal or immortal being.[56][57]
  • Crown of Thorns - A powerful magical artifact supposedly worn by some of the rulers of Hell.[58]
  • Trident of Lucifer - A powerful weapon with the ability to return exiled Demons to Hell, currently in the possession of Blue Devil.[59]

Other versions

According to Artemis: Requiem mini-series by William Messner-Loebs and Ed Benes, which does not take place in mainstream DC Universe canon, there are 13 princely thrones in hell, each selected to oversee 13 different realms of hell. It is then assumed that these Demon Princes ultimately answer to the crown head of hell. The demoness Belyllioth is Princess of 1/13th of hell's realms in these stories. She supposedly replaced the previous ruler Dalkriig-Hath once he was destroyed by his bride Artemis. Artemis was by rights next in line to rule her former husband's realm, but instead had the other twelve Princes of hell grant Belyllioth her station instead.[60] Notable in this depiction were the Myrmidons, a race of savage ant-like demons faithful to Belyllioth.[61]



The Vertigo Comics imprint also has its own version of Hell, with its own very specific infernal sovereignty formerly ruled by Lucifer Morningstar.

Fictional history

Contrary to popular belief, the term Satan represents a rank within the legions of Hell and is not a name. The most well-known Satan is Lucifer Morningstar whose rule supplanted that of the First of the Fallen and the First Triumvirate.[62] Contrary to popular belief, Lucifer was the fourth fallen Angel and not the first ruler of Hell, though he later became the supreme ruler of Hell for many centuries. When the great Darkness of creation threatened all existence, a civil war erupted in Hell and the realm was split into a triumvirate. Eventually, Lucifer grew bored with his position and retired to Earth with his consort, the Lilim known as Mazikeen.


The regions of Vertigo Comics' Hell are not as defined as the mainstream universe after the Reign in Hell mini-series, but specific areas have been mentioned in various books.

  • Dis - a Hellcity, home to the palace of Lucifer Morningstar.[63]
  • Effrul - The home province of Lord Arux an Arch-Duke of Hell.
  • Mashkan-Shapir - The home city of Arch-Duke Nergal.[64]

Infernal sovereignty

The hierarchy of Vertigo Comics' Hell has changed several times over the centuries, the leader of which has always assumed the title of Satan. Eventually, Lucifer abandons Hell, gives its key to Dream, and eventually, two angels, Remiel and Duma transform Hell into a place of rehabilitation. In the interim, Lucifer was shown as ruler of Hell in the DC Universe titles The Demon, The Spectre, and Stanley and His Monster.

Triumvirs of Hell

  • First of the Fallen - The first being created and the first to be banished to Hell.[65]
  • Second of the Fallen - The second being created and the second to be banished to Hell.[66]
  • Third of the Fallen - The third being created and the third to be banished to Hell.[67]
  • Lucifer - The fourth being created and the fourth to be banished to Hell.[68]
  • Azazel - A former djinn who ascended to Lucifer's triumvirate.[69]
  • Beelzebub - A prominent Arch-Duke who was later promoted to Triumvir alongside Lucifer and Azazel.[70][71]

Arch-Dukes of Hell

  • Adramalech - Ally of Tim Hunter.[72]
  • Arux - Ruler of Effrul, father of Brosag, and of Lady Lys who succeeds him.[73]
  • Mazikeen - The Lilim consort of Lucifer.[74][75]
  • Nergal - Ruler of the city of Mashkan-Shapir, Arch-Duke of Mendacity, demoted by First of the Fallen.[29]

Dukes of Hell

  • Agares - A minor Duke of Hell, and possible future servant of Tim Hunter.[76]

Minor Gentry

Notable Half-Demons

Infernal artifacts

  • Knife of the Fallen - Two bladed knife created by the First of the Fallen from the bodies of the Second and Third of the Fallen.[78]


External links

  • DCU Guide: The Devil and His Wife
  • DCU Guide: Lucifer Morningstar
  • DCU Guide: Azazel
  • DCU Guide: Beelzebub
  • DCU Guide: Triumvirate of Hell
  • DCU Guide: First of the Fallen
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