One of the creators of Marvel’s Damion Hellstrom thinks the Hulu show would have been better off staying faithful to the comics it’s based on.
One of the writers responsible for creating the Marvel Comics character, Damion Hellstrom, believes Hulu’s Helstrom show should have followed the comics more. Roy Thomas is a comics editor/writer and the first successor to Stan Lee as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. Along with Hellstrom, Thomas co-created Vision, Carol Danvers, Adam Warlock, Morbius, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), and Valkyrie, among many others. Helstrom was a short-lived Hulu series starring Tom Austen and Sydney Lemmon as Damion and Ana (a toned-down version of her comics counterpart, Satana) Helstrom. Along with the spelling of their names (Helstrom is spelled Hellstrom or even Hellstorm in the comics), the 2020 Hulu show from creator Paul Zbyszewski made several changes to the devilish characters.
In the comics, Damion and Satana Hellstrom were originally conceived as the children of Satan and a mortal woman named Victoria Wingate, though Satan was originally retconned to be a demon named Marduk Kurios. In Helstrom, the Helstrom siblings’ parents are a serial killer/Satan cultist and a possessed demon worshiper. Damion and Ana keep their demonic powers but retain little of their storylines from the comics. While their relationship with each other and their mother is a central plot point of the show, the Helstrom siblings rarely interact in the comics, and their mother is even less relevant. The show is also very loosely connected to the MCU at large.
Thomas was not a fan of Helstrom and recently expressed his disdain, as reported by ComicBook. He jeered about the extra “L” missing from the title and the show being too dark to even see what was going on. His more serious gripes were with how he didn’t believe anyone involved with the show had even read the comics, because Helstrom was so unfaithful to them. He compared it to his experience with Universal’s Hulk series in the late 1970s, where it was assumed that good intellectual property automatically meant a good show or movie, but in reality, fans were just disappointed by that good IP being ruined. Thomas then goes on to explain how adaptations try too hard to fix a good thing. Read his quote from ComicBook below:
“They should’ve followed the comic books. Somebody doing the series should’ve read the comic book. Maybe they could’ve made a good series out of that,” Thomas tells us. “They could have even left the extra ‘L.'”
“I mean, the guy who did the Hulk show, he just buries the Hulk various times,” he remembers. “He thought, ‘Oh, I paid no attention to that comic book. I went to things like Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,’ And gee, obviously Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could never have been smart enough to think of something like that. These guys have to think they’re reinventing the wheel every time they do something in order to justify their enormous salaries, I suppose.”
Zbyszewski had previously stated the inspiration for Helstrom came from a specific panel of the Son of Satan that highlighted the familial elements of the story. In that panel, Damion is in his iconic red cape and crying over his dead mother’s diary entry about his past. However, according to Thomas, not much else is taken from the comics. Thomas claims to have pitched the idea for the “Son of Satan” as an alternative to a horror story Stan Lee wanted to create, titled the Mark of Satan, as Thomas was worried about backlash from religious leaders. He then had writers Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe pen the title.
Like other Marvel Hulu properties Runaways, Cloak and Dagger, and The Gifted, Helstrom suffered from its lack of connection to the comics. The series was also compared to fellow Marvel horror movie, The New Mutants, whose marketing made it unclear to many that it was even a Marvel superhero story. This was especially damaging given its relatively unknown characters for casual Marvel fans. If Helstrom had hoped to at least rope in fans of the comic character, Thomas’ assertion that a comic-accurate adaption would’ve been better is likely correct. Marvel may get their next shot at horror with Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Next: Why Helstrom Was Dead On Arrival (Thanks To Marvel)
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