Real Name: Captain Joost van Straaten

Identity/Class: Human (Holland) spirit magic user

Occupation: Former ship captain

Group Membership: None;
formerly Legion of the Unliving

Affiliations: Colonel McCloskey, Colonel Ramirez, the People's Liberation Army;
pawn of Mephisto; former pawn of Kang the Conqueror & Pluto

Enemies: Avengers (Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Iron Man/Tony Stark, Mantis, Thor/Odinson, Vision), Death, Devil-Slayer (Eric Simon Payne), Hercules (Herakles), Jake Jason, Nick Laska & his band of smugglers, Pluto, Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: The Flying Dutchman, The Ghost

Base of Operations: Hades;
formerly some Netherworld, presumably a division of Mephisto's branch of "Hell.";
formerly Limbo

First Appearance: (Atlas Comics, unconfirmed) Strange Tales I#8 (July, 1952); (confirmed) Journey into Mystery I#56 (January, 1960); (Marvel) Silver Surfer I#8 (September, 1969)





Powers/Abilities: The Flying Dutchman can fire powerful energy blasts from his "eye" patch (what's up with that?), or from his metal claws. He can become immaterial at will, and has proven able to make contact with the Vision, who can adjust his density into virtual intangibility. In some cases, he has shown the ability to cast illusions.
He travels by means of an immense spectral pirate ship.

Height: 6'
Weight: 190 lbs. (variable)
Eyes: White (left only), formerly brown
Hair: Black (balding, with beard); formerly brown

(Silver Surfer I#8 (fb)) - Joost van Straaten was a sea captain in the 18th Century. He claims to have been an honest man until Mephisto filled his heart with cold, consuming greed. Obsessed with a certain treasure, he drove his crew into a storm which killed them all. The souls of the crew passed on, but van Straaten's soul was claimed by Mephisto, when Death didn't want to and cursed van Straaten for his crime to never know rest--to sail the seven seas on a voyage without end as the Flying Dutchman.

(Journey into Mystery I#56/2 (fb) - BTS) - During the middle of the 20th century, the Flying Dutchman's Ghost, joined by a spectral crew, sailed the waters off the New England Coast, frequently visiting an abandoned lighthouse, giving rise to rumors of it being haunted.

(Journey into Mystery I#56/2) - John Miller, a vacationer visiting friends, heard the legend of the haunted lighthouse and dismissed it. He went fishing one afternoon and was caught in a storm that capsized his boat. Barely making it to the lighthouse shore, he went inside for protection. Soon after, he saw a glowing ship approach, and lower a row boat that docked on the island. The ghosts passed through the lighthouse wall, and their captain ordered them to load some spectral supplies aboard their ship. One of the crewmen suspected that somebody was watching them, but the captain told him that no one would dare, because the people of the mainland knew this was their domain and that they would destroy anyone who came there.

(Journey into Mystery I#56/2 (fb) - BTS) - The morning after they had left, John thought he might have imagined the whole thing until he found a life preserver with "Flying Dutchman" written on it.

(Journey into Mystery I#56/2 - BTS) - John returned to the mainland, shared the story with his friends, showed them the life preserver as proof, and told them he would never again doubt the existence of the supernatural.

(Strange Tales I#98 (fb)) - The crew of the Molly Browne came upon the Flying Dutchman. Citing legends that the Dutchman carried gold, the crew of the Molly Browne boarded the Dutchman, and they indeed found gold. The crew of the Molly Browne prepared to steal the gold, and even when the ghost crew of the Dutchman appeared, they decided to take the gold anyway, believing that ghosts couldn't hurt them. Only Thomas Clark, radio operator, refused to steal the gold, and he returned to the Molly Browne. As the others filled their bags with gold, they all began to turn into ghosts. The Dutchman's crew revealed that the gold was merely bait, and that they had been cursed to sail the seven seas until they could find another evil crew to take their place. The new crew was now cursed to remain aboard the Dutchman until they could find another crew to take their place (see comments).

(All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z#4) - Van Straaten was released from his ship, but couldn't pass on to Heaven. He was trapped in Limbo.

(Silver Surfer I#8) - Mephisto summoned the Flying Dutchman to act as an agent on Earth to defeat the Silver Surfer, forcing him to surrender his soul to the demonlord. Mephisto transformed the Dutchman's ghost into a form with power sufficient to combat the Surfer, and brought the specter of his ship into Earth's plane as well. The Dutchman then launched an assault on Manhattan, which as intended, drew the attention of the Surfer.

(Silver Surfer I#9) - The Dutchman and the Surfer fought it out for awhile, and Mephisto even stepped in and blasted the Surfer to make the Dutchman's job a little easier. Ultimately, the Dutchman saw the light and was impressed by the purity of the Surfer, and saw that even he himself was not beyond redemption. The Dutchman renounced Mephisto, who swore to consign his spirit to Limbo for all eternity. The Surfer wept over the Dutchman's plight, which ended his curse (it required a living being to shed a tear for him). The Dutchman's spirit apparently passed on to a higher plane.

(Avengers I#131-132, Giant-Size Avengers#3-this story actually takes place between page 18 and 19 of Silver Surfer I#9)-Kang used the machines of Immortus to pluck the Flying Dutchman's ghost out of time and brought him to Limbo to serve in the original Legion of the Unliving. The Dutchman found and attacked the Vision. His spectral powers enabled him to resist the Vision's old "solidification inside your body" trick, and proved able to subject the Vision to that punishment himself. The Dutchman vanished after this attack, but was brought back by Immortus, and returned to the timestream the exact second he had left it.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#46/2-49/2) - The Dutchman, back in Mephisto's service, attempted to tempt Eric Simon Payne, aka Devil-Slayer, into pledging his soul and services to Mephisto. When Payne resisted him, the Dutchman sent him to Portega, a village in Central America, where he got involved in a civil war. The Dutchman upped the ante against Payne, granting magical armor to the communist People's Liberation Army attempting to take over the village, and the United States soldiers trying to prevent them. The military leaders of each side were seduced by the Dutchman's offer of power and joined forces against Payne.
As Devil-Slayer continued to succeed in his struggles against them, the Dutchman personally entered the conflict. The Dutchman caused the ground around Payne to drop out, revealing a portal presumably to Mephisto's Hell. Payne managed to take refuge inside the village's church, and then nailed the Dutchman with a flask of holy water, which disrupted his power. The ground reformed, and the Dutchman left, vowing to claim Payne's soul when next they would meet.

Comments: Adapted by unidentified writer, Ed Goldfarb (pencils) & Bob Baer (inks).
    Adapted to the Marvel Universe by Stan "The Man" Lee and John Buscema.

    In Strange Tales I#98, the crew of the Dutchman was freed and replaced with a new crew. I see two ways to interpret this:

  1. Van Straaten was indeed one of the crew. He was released from the ship, but instead of passing on to heaven, etc., he was sent to Limbo. This actually fits in nicely with the story in Silver Surfer I#8, b/c the flashback has him cursed to sail the seven seas for eternity, at the start of the main story, Mephisto pulls the Ghost from Limbo.
    (this version was used in the Flying Dutchman's entry in OHotMU 2006#4)
  2. Only the crew was replaced. The captain, van Straaten, was not freed, and he just commanded the new crew.

I assume everyone stupid enough to enter the Flying Dutchman's ship became part of his crew, which would explain why he had a crew after losing his original crew in the 18th century when they died and went to the afterlife without him.
--Markus Raymond

    I believe the character of the Flying Dutchman is based on the play, "Der Fliegende Hollander", by Wagner (you know, the guy who did Flight of the Valkyrie (aka "Kill the Wabbit" by Elmer Fudd)).

    It doesn't matter much now, but Silver Surfer I#8 and #9 were originally planned to take place during a single issue of the Surfer's double-sized book. I believe #8 was the first one to take on the regular sized format, so it was split into two stories. File that under useless trivia.

    Thanks to Prime Eternal for pointing out Journey Into Mystery I#56. Thanks to Gammatotem for pointing out the Flying Dutchman's appearances in Strange Tales I#8 (1952), Mystic#28 (March, 1954) and the fact that it was actually Death cursing the Flying Dutchman to travel the seven seas for eternity.

    Viet Nam...topical.

It is unknown if the appearances pointed out by Gammatotem were part of Earth-616 continuity or not, which is the reason why they are stuck in the comments. They could be placed between the flashback to the 18th century in Silver Surfer I#8 and Journey into Mystery I#56, but both have small contradictions in them. In Mystic#28 Captain van Straaten was clearly identified as Vanderdecken and wasn't even the original one because according to the story he was regularly replaced by somebody else taking over the curse. In Strange Tales I#8 the Flying Dutchman allegedly only touched the port once a hundred years, which contadicts the regular visits to a lighthouse in Journey into Mystery I#56. Journey into Mystery I#56 and Strange Tales I#98 are officially part of Captain van Straaten's history as they both made it into the Ghost of the Flying Dutchman's handbook profile. I honestly see the contradiction in Strange Tales I#8 of less of a problem than Mystic#28's revelation of a succession of men getting stuck in the body of the Flying Dutchman's captain. BTW I love the fact the captain's right eye was obviously missing in Strange Tales I#8 like in his modern appearances, which makes me wonder if Stan Lee actually remembered this story. He was the editor of Strange Tales I#8 after all.
--Markus Raymond

(Strange Tales I#8 (fb) - BTS) - The Flying Dutchman's ship and his spectral crew only touched port once every hundred years (three times up to the point of this story).

(Strange Tales I#8) - During the 1950s Nick Laska and his band of smugglers fled from the police through a thick fog on boat. They encountered the Flying Dutchman and boarded the ship. Laska threatened the ship's captain with a gun and ordered him to get the ship moving and not touch port for a long time. The Flying Dutchman's captain orderd to speed ahead and when it became obvious that something was wrong because the ship was moving far too fast he revealed to Laska, who at this point thought the captain and his crew were crazy, that he was cursed and their ship only touched port every hundred years. One smuggler showed Laska the ship's sign: The Flying Dutchman.

(Mystic#28/3) - Human trafficker Jake Jason was picked up by the Flying Dutchman and its Captain Vanderdecken. The cursed Captain asked Jason if he knew of the legend about the Flying Dutchman and Jason did. Vanderdecken mentioned there was only one way for him to leave the ship, but wouldn't mention how. Vanderdecken then warned Jason to leave before it was too late, but Jason only wanted to some of Vanderdecken's water to quench his thirst. Vanderdecken wouldn't let him drink of the water because it wasn't meant for him and was part of his curse. Jason knocked out Vanderdecken to get his hands on the water and upon drinking it switched bodies with Vanderdecken as the curse got transferred to Jason by drinking the water. Vanderdecken revealed there was a succession of people over the centuries utilizing the original skipper's body before leaving the ship. Jason, now in Vanderdecken's body, began scanning the horizon from the ship's railing to find relief.

Will U adds: Here's some facts on the real Ghost of the Flying Dutchman to compare with Marvel's Joost van Straaten:

Seventeenth Century Dutch Sea Captain Bernard Fokke was a daring and skilled mariner. Some of his voyages were so remarkable that it was rumored that he had supernatural aide. While trying to round the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch Colony Batavia in the West Indies back to Amsterdam, his ship, "The Libera Nos," was hit by the likes of a storm never before seen. His crew begged to put into the closest harbor, but Fokke laughed at their fears and said he was afraid of nothing in heaven and hell. Shutting himself up in his cabin, he drank and smoked his pipe as the storm grew even worse. He challenged God himself to sink his ship."I WILL round this cape even if I have to keep sailing to doomsday," he is reputed to have shouted. At that point, a glowing form appeared on the deck. The crew became terrified, but Fokke showed no trace of fear or respect. He calls out to it: "Who wants a fearless passage? I don't, I'm asking nothing from you! Clear out unless you want your brains bashed out." He takes out a pistol and fires on the presence, but the pistol explodes in his hand. The presence responds: "Since it is your delight to torment sailors, you shall torment them. You will be the evil spirit of the sea. Your ship will bring misfortune to all who see it."

Since then, the ghostly visage of the ship has brought doom to all who have seen her. She's been described as a glowing ship moving without winds with a skeleton as a figurehead and as having a crew of spectars. Many people have seen it; one witness was King George III when he was a young sailor. She's been reported everywhere from the North sea to the Pacific Ocean, but these are actually other ghost ships. The true "Flying Dutchman" is bound to the Cape of Good Hope.

No one is quite sure who first committed the story to paper, but she's become most famous by her literary name as "The Flying Dutchman." Her captain's name was first given as Hendrik van der Decken and later changed to Phillip Vanderdecken, but no trace of either captain has ever been recorded. Since "van der Decken" is Dutch for "on the deck," the name was likely added later. In some Dutch versions though, the captain is one Capt. Falkenburgh. In his version of the story, Washington Irving called him Captain Ramhout Van Dam. Some scholars think the legend got its start after the real Captain Bernard Focce actually vanished in a storm near the Cape of Good Hope.

Some information taken from Encyclopedia of Ghosts by Daniel Cohen (1984) .

Flying Dutchman's Ghost has profiles in All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z#4 (June, 2006) and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z HC#4 (October, 2008).

The Flying Dutchman's Ghost, also referred to as just "The Ghost," has no known connection to:

Some unidentified black magic user was attempting to summon some minor demons, and instead drew the attention of Mephisto. Mephisto used this human sorcerer as a conduit to relocate the Flying Dutchman. After Mephisto transformed the Dutchman, his first test of his power was to disintegrate the sorcerer. That's what you get for playing with the devil.



--Silver Surfer I#8




images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z HC#4, Flying Dutchman's Ghost profile (main image)
Silver Surfer I#9, p4, pan4 (Flying Dutchman head shot)
Silver Surfer I#8, p10, pan2 (Flying Dutchman alive)
Silver Surfer I#8, p18, pan4 (Dutchman's ship)
Strange Tales I#8, p20, pan6 (Flying Dutchman during 1950s)
Silver Surfer I#8, p5, pan1 (black magician body shot)
Silver Surfer I#8, p5, pan3 (black magician head shot)

Strange Tales I#8 (July, 1952) - Ed Goldfarb (pencils), Bob Baer (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Mystic#28 (March, 1954) - Vic Carrabotta (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Journey into Mystery I#56 (January, 1960) - Joe Sinnott (pencils/inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Strange Tales I#98 (July, 1962) - Dick Ayers (pencils/inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Silver Surfer I#9 (October, 1969) - Stan Lee (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Dan Adkins (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Avengers I#131-132 (January-February, 1975) - Steve Englehart & Roy Thomas (#132) (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Joe Staton (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Giant-Size Avengers#3 (February, 1975) - Steve Englehart & Roy Thomas (writer), Dave Cockrum (pencils), Joe Giella (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents I#46-49 (1990) - Dwight Zimmerman (writer), Rodeny Ramos (pencils), Mark McKenna (inks), Terry Kavanagh (editor)

Last updated: 08/06/17

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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