Making a deal with the devil is one of the most familiar plots in fiction. The devil offers you earthly power and riches, and in exchange he gets your immortal soul. Sometimes the deal has an ironic twist that leads to your premature death. Most often, you find that you have come out worse off for the deal, since what you gained doesn’t really make you happy. In Marvel and DC, the Devil is real. Sometimes he walks as Lucifer, sometimes Mephisto, sometimes Neron. And just like their counterparts, they offer deals to people who might take them.
But sometimes, it’s not just characters of low moral character who make a deal. Sometimes, heroes make deals with the devil. While a villain will make a deal for power, most heroes make the deal to save someone they love. Some make the deal specifically to defeat the devil. For some heroes, this is their superhero origin. For others, it’s the center of a single storyline, that might or might not have lasting consequences for the character. For most of them, they end up getting the better of the devil. But some remain trapped in his service, or with the specter of an eternity of damnation hanging over them.
Yes, that’s right! The Son of Batman himself sold his soul to the devil. Sire, it was in an alternate future that may or may not come to pass… but still! The DC Multiverse is infinite again, and on Earth-Whatever, Damian Wayne sold his soul. In Batman #666, Grant Morrison told the dark tale of a possible future of Gotham. Bruce Wayne is dead. But Batman must never die.
On the night of his father’s death, Damian sells his soul to the devil in exchange for Gotham’s safety. He faces off against an evil Batman, claiming to be the Anti-Christ set to bring about Armageddon. A much more brutal Batman, Damian kills this other Batman, and challenges his supposed father the Devil to come and get him. It is then revealed that Damian is immortal thanks to his deal, so he can forever keep Gotham safe.
Spawn is one of the icons of the ’90s. The poster child for Image Comics, Spawn was representative of the darker, edgier slant superheroes started to take in the ’90s, and his origin was no exception. A former Marine, Al Simmons was recruited by the CIA for a black ops unit. While a part of it, he began to question the morality of his actions
Betrayed by his superiors, he was killed and wound up in Hell, due to knowingly killing innocents while working for the CIA. Despite already being damned to hell, he trades his soul to the demon Malebolgia to see his wife again. Because demons are jerks, Simmons is sent back five years after his death to find his wife has moved on. Simmons, now Spawn, uses his new hell-powers to become a hero, battling the forces of both Heaven and Hell.
Hawkman has one of the more confusing origins in DC. Sometimes he’s an ancient Egyptian, sometimes he’s an alien, sometimes he’s both. In the ’90s, he was Katar Hol, a Thanagarian who somehow managed to be merged with the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as well as the spirit of an ancient hawk god.
In the 1995 crossover event Underworld Unleashed, Neron was going around offering heroes and villains deals for their souls in order to establish the primacy of Hell on Earth. One of the heroes he approached was none other than Hawkman. But it wasn’t Katar Hol who accepted the deal, but rather one of the hawk spirits living within him. In exchange for its soul, the spirit was to gain power over the other spirits living within him. It failed, and Hawkman joined the battle against Neron.
12. THE SPECTRE
As the literal Wrath of God, you’d think the Spectre would be immune to making deals with the devil. But one thing about the Spectre is that although he is a servant of God, a literal angel, he’s not exactly a nice person. Often laying horrific punishments on mortals, the Spectre was fused with a human, Jim Corrigan, in order to temper his rage and make him more merciful.
Unfortunately, the Spectre was not happy with this arrangement. In Underworld Unleashed, he makes a deal with Neron to be free of Corrigan. In exchange, he promises not to oppose Neron in his plan. Spectre’s plan backfires, and he ends up enslaved to Neron and a possible successor to his throne. Fortunately for the heroes, the deal does not extend to Neron’s demonic servants, and Spectre joins the heroes in their invasion of Hell.
11. GUY GARDNER
Guy Gardner has been through a lot. The second human to join the Green Lantern Corps, Gardner quickly established his reputation as a jerk with a heart of gold. After the events of Emerald Twilight, when Hal Jordan became the villainous Parallax and wiped out the Green Lanterns, Gardner left his shattered life (and ring) behind and became the Warrior.
In Underworld Unleashed, Gardner is one of many heroes to make a deal with Neron. Neron promises to resurrect Guy’s loved ones, as well as Coast City. In exchange Gardner agrees to kill another Green Lantern, John Stewart. Gardner only accepts this deal because Neron fools him into believing that Stewart should already be dead, and his survival created a time paradox that led to Gardner’s current suffering.
One of Flash’s rogues, Trickster occasionally wobbles between villain and anti-hero. While he spent much of his time messing with Barry Allen, after Allen’s death he leaves behind the Trickster identity and starts working in Hollywood special effects. His first brush with the underworld came when he attempted to steal Blue Devil’s power suit. He then became a friend to Devil, occasionally aiding him in his sporadic attempts to reform.
In Underworld Unleashed (noticing a pattern?), Trickster. along with many other villains, is approached by Neron with a deal. While Trickster is not immediately offered a deal, Neron asks him to keep an eye on the inner council of villains with the promise a deal forthcoming. When Trickster realizes he’s never going to get a deal, he betrays Neron and aids the heroes in defeating him. This in turn leads to him truly reforming, so as to avoid Hell and truly becoming enslaved to Neron.
9. CAPTAIN MARVEL (THE DC ONE)
Long before Marvel came up with Mar-Vell, Captain Marvel was created by Fawcett Comics. A 10 year old boy named Billy Batson was granted incredible power by a wizard due to his pure heart. By shouting SHAZAM!, Billy could become Captain Marvel, Earth’s Mightiest Marvel. DC eventually acquired Captain Marvel, and integrated him into the main DC Universe.
In Underworld Unleashed (this is the last one, we swear), Neron’s ultimate plan was to steal the purest soul on Earth and gain ultimate power. That soul was, naturally, Billy Batson. Trickster, realizing this plan, works with Billy to thwart Neron’s plan. Captain Marvel confronts Neron head on, and offers a deal. In exchange for his soul, Neron must release all the other souls he’s collected, and free Earth. Neron accepts, and attempts to take Billy’s soul. However, because Billy offered his soul with a purely altruistic goal, without asking for any personal gain, Neron cannot take his soul. He still has to honor his part of the deal, and his plans are foiled.
8. DOCTOR STRANGE
Doctor Strange has sold his soul so many times, various demons and devils have stopped accepting his deals. For example, Strange made a deal with the demonic entity Zom to fight off an enraged Hulk in World War Hulk. The power of Zom caused him to lose control of his mystical powers, nearly killing civilians before being defeated by Hulk.
Later, after the events of Infinity, Strange makes a deal with the mysterious entity, the Resolute Throne. The Throne offers a fifth of the power of a god in exchange for a fifth of a soul. Strange offers his entire soul. With his newfound power, he joins the reality-warping Black Priests, and allies himself with Doctor Doom in a last ditch effort to save the multiverse from the threat of the Beyonders.
7. FELIX FAUST
While Faust is a villain, he’s one of the most famous comic book characters to make a deal with the devil. An ancient wizard from 5000 BC, Faust was banished into an alternate dimension by a powerful wizard king. A foolish young magician brought him back in the 1920s, whereupon he killed the young man and stole his body.
Throughout the decades leading up to the modern day, Faust would sell his soul for power, re-acquiring it when his goals were not fulfilled. This took its toll on him, and eventually he died and became a tormented spirit. Eventually, he gained a modicum of freedom, and put it to work continuing to torment the heroes of the world. Becoming a tempter himself, he offered various heroes and villains deals for power in exchange for their soul.
Part time hero, part time villain, full time trickster, Loki’s moral standing has fluctuated pretty wildly over the past few years. His most impressive scheme, however, was the massively complicated plan to disgrace Thor and shatter Asgard in Siege. Most importantly, the plot served to free himself from the shackles of predestination that bound all Asgardians to the endless cycle of Ragnarok.
An entire article could be written about this plan, but we’ll give you the basics. First, Loki enslaves some ghost Valkyries who served Odin’s dad. He then offers these to Mephisto in exchange for a slice of Hell for Hela to rule. He then makes a deal with Hela to remove himself from the rolls of Hel (not HelL) in exchange for the slice of Hell. In doing so, he frees himself from the cycle of Ragnarok entirely, as he will not need to be accounted for at the end of the world.
5. SEBASTIAN FAUST
A forgotten minor hero from the ’90s, Sebastian Faust is, as the name implies, the son of Felix Faust. Forever seeking more magical power, Felix does the seemingly unthinkable and sells his son’s soul to a demon. Because demons don’t really care to be tricked, the power is given to Sebastian. This grants him vast magical power, and the ability to steal and absorb the powers and knowledge of others’ souls.
Sebastian would put these powers to use as a member of the Outsiders, battling a vampiric invasion, and later his own father and sister. Later, he would join with the magical heroes of DC to battle an invasion of Earth by the forces of Hell led by a demon with the power of the Spectre.
4. BLUE DEVIL
Blue Devil, despite the name, did not start out as a devil. Originally a movie stuntman, he constructed a blue devil exoskeleton to film a movie appropriately called Blue Devil. Unfortunately for him, a real devil (the same one who granted Sebastian Faust his powers) escapes from a temple near where he was filming, and magically bonds him to the suit.
He spends some time as a superhero, until another devil, DC’s traditional Satan-figure Neron, makes a deal with him. Blue Devil is promised fame and fortune, but instead the deal leads to his death. It doesn’t last long, and Blue Devil is restored to life, this time as a real demon. He continues working as a hero, allying with the Justice League, while still opposing Neron at every turn.
3. GHOST RIDER
Johnny Blaze had a hard life. Both his parents died when he was quite young. Although he was adopted by his father’s best friend, his adoptive father was soon diagnosed with cancer. Desperate to save him, Johnny summons the demon Mephisto, and trades his soul to save him from cancer. Because Mephisto is a jerk, his adoptive father dies soon after in a stunt.
When Mephisto comes to collect, he is driven off by the pure love of his girlfriend, Roxanne. Mephisto, not one to be beaten, binds Johnny’s soul to the demon Zarathos, turning Johnny into the Ghost Rider. Johnny eventually ends up in Hell, but escapes. Through a somewhat ridiculous series of events, he ends up killing the real devil Lucifer. He also discovers that Zarathos is not a demon, but actually an angel much like DC’s Spectre.
2. JOHN CONSTANTINE
John Constantine is one of the few characters on this list to actually get the better of the devil through a deal. Constantine is essentially a supernatural con-man, fooling gods, demons, and other magical creatures into helping him, hurting others, or just doing something stupid to make John laugh. His greatest scheme puts all other soul-selling to shame, though.
First, he encounters the First of the Fallen, one of the rulers of Hell after the departure of Lucifer. John tricks him into drinking holy water, so the First swears unprecedented torment on John when he finally dies and arrives in Hell. Because John is a heavy smoker, he is slowly dying from cancer. In order to avoid going to Hell, John sells his soul to the two other rulers of Hell. That way, when he dies, there would be an all-out war over who gets to keep his soul. In doing so, he forces the First to remove his cancer. To further cement his avoidance of Hell, he blackmails God (the Abrahamic Almighty himself) by threatening to take over Hell if he ever ends up there.
Of course. What would a list about superheroes who made a deal with the devil be without the most infamous one of all? Yes, that’s right, it’s time to go off on One More Day once again. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Civil War, Spider-Man’s public identity is starting to cause problems for him. Most daunting is a hitman sent by the Kingpin. While the target is Spider-Man, he accidentally hits Aunt May, sending her into a coma.
After exhausting literally every other option (including Mr. Fantastic and Black Panther, both of whom can cure cancer, and Doctor Strange, someone who is both a brilliant surgeon and the world’s most powerful sorcerer) with no luck, Spider-Man is approached by Mephisto. Mephisto offers to save Aunt May in exchange for Peter’s marriage to Mary Jane. Despite being told by the One-Above-All, the literal avatar of the writers and God Himself in Marvel, to turn down the deal and let go of May, Peter accepts the deal. As their marriage is erased, they learn at the last minute that they are also selling the soul of their unborn child. Of course, this plotline has never been addressed again and Spider-Man has never faced any consequences for his actions, and he STILL hasn’t gotten back together with Mary Jane.
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