Warning: The following contains spoilers for Strikeforce #1 by Tini Howard, German Peralta, Jordie Bellaire and VC's Joe Sabino, on sale now.
After Blade joined the Avengers several months ago, the events of the vampire civil war and War of the Realms unleashed a swath of magical forces onto the greater Marvel Universe. While some heroes are trained and prepared for this, others are taken by surprise, such as many of the heroes in Strikeforce #1.
Even though Blade is better prepared for the motley crew of heroes he surrounds himself with, he isn't prepared to deal with every magical threat in the stranger corners of the Marvel Universe. And now, the vampire hunter has to face the possibility that he may have just accidentally killed Damion Hellstorm.
During the events of Strikeforce #1, a seemingly random collection of heroes that includes Spider-Woman, Angela, Spectrum, Wiccan and the Winter Soldier are caught by the Avengers as they seemingly unleash a number of dangerous diseases. Blade is brought in to investigate the crime to which the five heroes all plead innocence. Blade has a suspicion that this crime is connected to a particularly dangerous shapeshifter he encountered when he was younger and, fearful that the Avengers wouldn't be able to comprehend the magical forces at play, he decides to spring the framed heroes and work with them to figure out why they were targeted.
Visiting the Temple of Three and dispatching another of the changelings, Angela realizes they're dealing with the Vridai, a magical infection and virus of thought that's been unleashed on Earth in the aftermath of War of the Realms. The group encounters Count Ophidian, king of the Vridai. Damion Hellstorm arrives to assist his new "master" Vridai in his fight against the assembled heroes.
Assuming this is another double, Blade stabs him in the chest with a sword, seemingly killing him. But shortly after his body doesn't revert to the natural shapeshifter's form, Blade receives a call from Satana hinting that the shapeshifter posing as Damion is actually targeting her... and that Blade just killed the real Hellstorm.
Who Is Damion Hellstorm?
Damion Hellstorm, created by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich, is one of the most powerful occult figures in the Marvel Universe. The son of a demon and a mortal woman, Damion and his sister Satana were trained in the dark arts of magic by their father. While his sister initially gave into their more demonic side, Damion became an occult investigator and demonologist. He was a frequent ally of the Defenders and Ghost Rider, and was even married to Patsy Walker, Hellcat, for a brief time.
He eventually killed his father and briefly became the new king of hell until Mephisto was able to steal the throne out from underneath him. He's since contributed in small parts to various events, including Chaos War. The character is poised to make a more direct appearance within the general public, however, thanks to Helstrom, his upcoming streaming series on Hulu, which is set to center on Damion and his sister tracking down magical threats across the world.
That's what makes his seemingly sudden death all the more surprising. Despite his occasional moments of villainy, Damion has typically operated as an ally to the various superheroes of the Marvel Universe. He's even been appearing recently in the pages of Avengers, ironically assisting Blade with the attempted exorcism of Robbie Reyes. His potential death raises a lot of questions for the future of magic in the Marvel Universe. The heroes may have just lost a valuable ally with an unprecedented knowledge of the occult. It also means Damion will likely end up in hell thanks to his history with the plane if he truly is dead, as the end of this issue seems to indicate.
Even though his old friend Johnny Blaze currently sits on the hellish throne, the Ghost Rider seems to be corrupted by the power and responsibilities of his position and the length of his stay in Hell. Damion's presence might only make things worse, giving the denizens of hell a potential usurper to Blaze's throne to rally behind. Considering his supernatural background, there's always a possibility that he could be revived in some capacity, but if he does, he'll almost certainly have some harsh words for Blade.