For Your Consideration: Marvel’s Hellstorm by Warren Ellis Omnibus

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Hellstorm by Warren Ellis Omnibus

Hellstorm by Warren Ellis Omnibus


It’s always interesting to revisit a revered writer’s earlier work, watching him try out ideas and styles, finding his voice, and laying claim to characters no one else wanted so there were few, if any, limits. That’s very much the case with the forthcoming Hellstorm by Warren Ellis Omnibus, collecting his work on Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #12-21 and Druid #1-4.

Although created by Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe in the pages of Ghost Rider, he was more superhero than truly the Son of Satan as his series was billed. Introduced to us as Daimon Hellstrom, was said to be the spawn of the devil and came to Earth. There, he fought all manner of demon and beast, even joining the Defenders and marrying Patsy Walker, a.k.a the heroic Hellcat (yes, the same Patsy Walker you see on Jessica Jones).

He languished as a B- or C-list character through the 1980s before DC Comics launched Vertigo. Then, to compete, Marvel added a slew of dark titles including Hellstorm: Prince of Lies. In 1994, with sales slipping, editor Marie Javins turned to rising British writer Ellis and gave him the keys to Hell.

Hellstorm, Prince of Lies #14

Hellstorm, Prince of Lies #14


With art by Leonardo Manco (spelled by Peter Gross) and covers by Steve Pugh and Kevin O’Neill among others, Ellis inherited Patsy, the Gargoyle, and other recurring players but made it feel different. Hellstrom was calling himself Hellstorm and was still looking for ways to defeat his father but Ellis was giving us new settings and characters, as well as a tone and voice that set the series apart.

First, he seemingly finds and destroys his father, taking over Hell. In many ways, the plots are superfluous to the characters and the character study Ellis is making of Daimon and what it means to come from a cursed lineage and then become the ruler of a realm. He takes four issues to get to this point and then, as he begins to explore, the title is canceled.

Before we get to that point, though, we watch Daimon gain power but lose his wife in the process since being witness to this struggle drove Patsy insane. She was a good woman who loved someone she thought to be a good man only to find herself dead, living in Hell, and aware that the good man was no more.

Druid #1

Druid #1


Thankfully, Marvel liked what they read and gave him Druid, who was once introduced as Dr. Droom by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby before being resurrected in the Bronze Age as Dr. Druid. In Ellis and Manco’s hands, the D-lister becomes a thematic sequel. If Hellstrom is unlikeable, Druid is even less so, much more of a bastard to those around him. He’s powerful and yet is selfish and squanders his gifts.

Anthony Ludgate is balding and overweight, having faked his death to avoid leading the Defenders, we meet Druid hanging out with the obsequious Hemingway, Redeyes, Baby Icon, and Scurve. When the later accidentally summons Hellstrom, he is incinerated. Druid wants power like that and begs his gods. The triple-goddess of Celtica will give him such power if he restores Earth to its original pre-life state. We then watch Druid find himself and see just how much research Ellis has done on Celtic mythology.

Although the ending is hasty indicating the title was canceled relatively quickly, Ellis is pretty much done with Druid and leaves him in a sad state. He’s since gotten better but in this volume, he and Hellstrom make for fascinating protagonists.

As Rich Johnston invoked at Comics Bulletin, “And Our Lord Warren Ellis was weak and didst lie with Hellstorm. And when Hellstorm fell, he did lie with Druid…And Our Lord Warren Ellis got himself a reputation for getting about a bit. But lo, in all those books he lay with, he preached his word, whether through the mouths of the characters or through the letters column. And it was a word of fire, of brimstone, of sulphurous bollocks and how he was the saviour of comics.”

 

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