Nathan Adler made a substantial, and substantial sized, comment to Cove West's piece here on Lovecraft and the Marvel Universe (which itself started out as a substantial three part comment on Jason Powell's discussion of the Illyana issues of Uncanny X-Men). Check it out:
With regard to the “Elder Gods” I’ve always found that Chris meant the N’Garai when using this term. Overwhelming evidence of this occurs in Dr. Strange #43-4, where Chris uses both terms in this story, finally confirmed in X-Men: Black Sun #1, where the N’Garai are identified as those Elder Gods served by Belasco.
We know from Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #22 that well before the Great Cataclysm which sank Atlantis, the Earth was ruled by the race of Elder Gods known as the N’Garai. Humanity was enslaved by these gods, serving as their workers, pets and meals. One account, in Marvel Preview #7, revealed that the N’Garai were defeated and driven from the Earth by the forces of Heaven, led by the angel Lucifer, prior to his fall. Humanity subsequently gained its freedom. Incontrovertible proof that Satan was that self-same fallen angel came in this same issue when the Camarilla of the N’Garai, human servants dedicated to them, sought revenge on that fallen angel, and saw the means to gain it by slaying Satana, the daughter of that same fallen angel.
IIRC Chris Claremont had a few stories outstanding for Satana that would have appeared in Haunt of Horror, but never did… including a Satana story by himself and George Evans entitled ‘Return of the Elder Gods’. The story, while never published, did appear to have been completed, with Claremont referencing it in his introduction to Satana’s appearance in Marvel Preview #7.
I suspect the story eventually showing Atum’s defeat of the Elder Gods in the distant past was grown from the seeds of Chris’s unpublished story about how the angel Lucifer, prior to his fall, was responsible for their banishment.
Despite driving the N’Garai to another dimensional reality, I further suspect Chris would reveal that Lucifer absorbed so much of their energies that he transformed into Satan, akin to Atum’s transformation into Demogorge. The army that he led was similarly tainted by the N’Garai’s evil, eventually becoming his satanic host, and returning to Heaven, the degenerated Lucifer leads his army in war against God, resulting in their being cast down from Earth.
Another of Chris’s stories, this time slated for The Legion of Monsters #2 but never published, was titled ‘Night Of The Demon – Night Of The Damned’. Later that year he wrote X-Men #96 which contained the almost identical title of ‘Night of the Demon’, which would seem to indicate that Chris took this subplot and planned it for his X-Men book. In this story, right after Thunderbird’s death, a powerful N’Garai demon going by the name of Kierrok the Damned was accidentally released from its other dimensional prison by Cyclops.
Then in the story from Marvel Team-Up #76-77, Chris shows Silver Dagger reading the Shiatra Book of the Damned in the Vatican library during Curwen’s time as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. This book was later retconned to be one of the many names of the Darkhold. I suspect, however, that Chris’s use of the term ‘Damned’ suggests a different intention, that the Shiatra Book of the Damned was originally intended as an indestructible parchment which Kierrok managed to infuse his mystical knowledge into, later used as the basis of the tale about Chthon’s leaving the Darkhold to provide a gateway for his eventual return.
Of further interest is how, in the story of Marada, the She-Wolf, we have the N’Garai masters, the Mabdhara, including Y’Garon, first of the Triad, seeking out the soul of Marada for her powers “both temporal and arcane, though she knows it not.” Simyon Karashnur, a sorcerer serving the N’Garai, sought to bind Marada’s power to the service of his masters.
Now, as detailed by Archie Goodwin in Overview (Epic Illustrated’s notes on stories and contributors), Marada’s story was initially intended to feature Red Sonja, but copyright complications at the time resulted in the story and character being totally redesigned into Marada. In addition, Simyon Karashnur was changed from Kulan Gath.
During Marvel Team-Up #79, mention is made that Red Sonja slayed Kulan Gath by cutting out his heart, an identical fate met by Simyon when Marada enters Y’Garon’s realm.
Thus, following on from Chris’s Sonja tale during Marvel Team-Up, one could adduce that during the Hyborian Age Red Sonja came to blows with Kulan Gath due to his N’Garai masters wishing to possess her soul due to its powers “both temporal and arcane, though she knows it not.”
Fast forwarding numerous millennia, Belasco seeks to bind Illyana’s powers “both temporal and arcane” to the service of his N’Garai masters.
What this all seems to point to is the N’Garai aiming to acquire control over time.
Given their motives to gain control over time, this might suggest Immortus as another sorcerer similarly seeking to bind Wanda’s powers “both temporal and arcane” to the service of the N’Garai!?
Recall that Wanda was not only bound to Chthon as a foetus, but had much of her life orchestrated by Immortus, Master of Time. Given the revelation that Chthon conceived the N’Garai, could Immortus be another agent of these N’Garai?
It is interesting that just prior to the revelation of Wanda Maximoff as a so-called “Child of the Darkholde”, Chris had written a few stories on the topic hinting at Chthon scheming nasty plans for Spider-Woman, with her mother Viper used as a pawn to twist Jessica into his servant.
With regard to Claremont’s plan to bring about an epic around Magik and Limbo (the original plan for Inferno which ended up coopted to clean up the Madelyn mess), I would however posit that Illyana’s role was originally intended for Satana, the Devil’s Daughter in the epic ‘Return of the Elder Gods’. I recall seeing an illustration by Sienkiwicz of Satana wielding what appeared to be a Soulsword years ago, so was she originally intended to conquer Limbo on behalf of her father to hold back the N’Garai hordes? Satana was definitely destined to become a darkchild of sorts. While her brother Daimon hated his hellish heritage, she seemed to revel in human suffering, acquiring a vampiric thirst for syphoning life energy from others.
Nevertheless, this would seem to suggest that Chris’s plans for Satana were foiled, so he began grafting his plot upon Ms. Marvel (Dark Ms. Marvel), then Jean Grey (Dark Phoenix), Jessica Drew (Child of the Darkholde), and finally Magik (Darkchilde).
When Chris wrote Spider-Woman, Chthon was referred to as “The Other.” Was this demon intended as another N’Garai, or perhaps Y’Garon?
Now recall that the clay used to great effect by Philip Masters was imbued with some form of demonic essence allowing him to animate it.
Then recall that Magik constantly found herself fighting back the demonic essence of Limbo, also known as Otherplace, and this included its soil being imbued with demonic life.
Then consider that Chthon was referred to as the “Other” when first introduced into the Marvel Universe. Coincidence!?
Was Otherplace where Chthon fled to when Demogorge came to devour the Elder Gods (or in Chris’s plan where the Mabdhara fled when banished by Lucifer/ Satan)?
Then, if Immortus is actually Limbo’s own defence against invasion by the Elder Gods, does this make him an agent of Gaea, intent on preventing her brother gaining control over time and rewriting history to ensure he did not have to flee Earth? Is this why he chose to manipulate Wanda, i.e. to undermine the influence Chthon had upon her?
This would suggest that Immortus is actually akin to Yandroth (another champion of science vs magic), in that he resists the mystic aspects of limbo and masters them with technology.
Then if Chris was not allowed to use the Scarlet Witch, did he create Magik as a substitute. You’ll recall he suspended the difference between mutation and sorcery a lot. With Magik you could never tell when mutant powers ends and spellcasting begins. Stan also did this with the Scarlet Witch. Coincidence? But I digress…
Now, when Chris was writing Dr. Strange, he had Stephen slay a servant of the N’Garai, the Shadowqueen (cf. II #42-44), by invoking the power of the Tetragrammaton. This was the same power called upon, in the Book of Enoch, to defeat the Nephilim, whom Robert E. Howard appears to have based his “Giant-Kings” upon.
Given this, might Chris have gone one better than Roy Thomas and revealed that mutants existed even further back in Earth’s history than Ahmet Abdol had claimed, quite interesting when one considers that the Pharaohs Abdol theorised as mutants came from the land that was once Stygia (i.e. Egypt)?
On another note, Morgan le Fay makes mention during Chris’s run on Spider-Woman of Mordred being imprisoned for a time in the Outer Dark. The only stories referring to the Outer Dark were written by Chris. These include Chris’s “Bizarre Adventures” tale of Lady Daemon, also known as Megan Daemon. Whilst this might appear out of continuity, the Mother of Demons, Kthara, pitted against Satana and Daimon by Chris in Marvel Spotlight #24 is referred to as “She who Rules the Outer Dark”. Kthara’s relationship to their father, Satan, further suggested that those demons encountered by Lady Daemon were indeed the N’Garai.
With Chris never getting to explore the character of Megan Daemon any further, I wonder if Chris created Meggan from Excalibur to act as her substitute!? Chris even managed to sneak elements of Lady Daemon’s tale into early issues of Excalibur, but first…
With the mention by Chris (cf. Excalibur #12 (v1) p.15) of Meggan having some connection to the fairies, and his later contention that the Neo had some *connection* with stories of fairies and fantasy from human history, I would posit that the Neo were intended as some hyper-evolved mutant defence against an N’Garai invasion!?
With Chris’s intending Kitty Pryde’s inheriting Magik’s Soulsword, and his further hints, in X-Men #100 (v2), at her being a Neo, this would seem to have some connection to the Elder Host demon calling Kitty a “Guardian,” her purpose perhaps being the prevention of N’Garai breaching the dimensional barriers to Earth.
Could the Petrified Man perhaps be another curse brought about by the N’Garai? Recall that Chris had Garokk sacrifice himself to resurrect the Savage Land, only to have his “negative” influence do nasty things to some of the evolving dinosaurs, so when they reached maturity, they were smarter or more crafty than ever before. The Savage Land of all places would be the perfect environment for the N’Garai to develop a ground swell of power, since the majority of its inhabitants live a life of bestial depravity so similar to the legacy the N’Garai left behind on the Earth.
Another reveal never touched upon since is how Forge claimed the life-force of his fallen comrades to summon forth N’Garai demons to avenge their deaths in Vietnam.
Interested in your thoughts.
P.S. Of further interest to you might be the Unforgiven Dead from Bob Harras’s run on Namor, in particular Suma-Ket who was revealed to have incredible magical power due to his consorting with the Elder Gods. Given the Elder Gods referred to in issues #43 and #44 of Dr. Strange were the N’Garai, this would seem to suggest that like Kulan Gath and Belasco, Suma-Ket was another Priest-King of the N’Garai. The question this leaves me with is what surface group Harras intended the Unforgiven Dead to be derived from.