OF THE LOWER DEPTHS
Real Name: Unrevealed (see comments)
Identity/Class: Class II demon
Occupation: Demon Lord, Judge and ruler of the dead in Hell
Group Membership: Unrevealed;
Affiliations: Charon, Grim Reaper (Angel of Death), Red Skull (see comments), Messenger;
Enemies: Captain America (Jeff Mace)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: None revealed
Base of Operations: An unrevealed Hell dimension accessible from Hades via the River Styx
First Appearance: Captain America's Weird Tales#74/1 (October 1949)
Powers/Abilities: The Master Judge of the Lower Depths is an ancient, powerful demon lord able to harness vast mystical and magical energies. He is able to summon hellfire and shape it to his whim, bring the dead back to life and mentally control the living and the dead. His strength level is unknown but comparing him to other Hell-lords he could conceivably be in the Class 100 range. He is virtually immortal and more than like possesses superhuman resistance that would make him immune to disease and aging.
He created a great magical volume called the Fatal Book which holds the names of every person to die that is destined to arrive in hell. Any names that appear or are written inside are in effect dead and their souls would be transported from the mortal world by one of his Messengers into Hades and ferried down the River Styx to his throne room where the Master Judge of the Lower Depths would await their arrival. At his leisure, the Master Judge of the Lower Depths can erase any name from the book and return the dead back to life.
(Captain America's Weird Tales#74/1 - BTS) - This powerful demonic entity resided in a realm of Hell accessible from Hades via the River Styx. In the distant past, as a way to keep track of all the new souls of the recent dead destined for the Lower Planes, he created a great magical volume called the Fatal Book and left it in the charge of a minor demon called the Messenger.
(Captain America's Weird Tales#74/1) - Having greeted the new arrivals, the Master Judge was surprised to see Captain America but was eager to break his fiery spirit. His servant, the Messenger quickly informed him of an error and that Captain America should not be here. The Red Skull entered the throne chamber and revealed that it was he that wrote Captain America's name in the Fatal Book out of revenge and that the law stated that whoever's name is written in fire within can not be altered. Angered by this flagrant abuse of using the Fatal Book by the Red Skull, the Master Judge of the Lower Depths bellowed for silence and stated that he reigns there and he alone will decide the fates of mortals. He chastised the Red Skull about the laws of the dead and that it was he wrote the Fatal Book and him alone can break the rules. Not wanting to freely give up losing Captain America's soul he chose to pit the two mortal enemies against each other to decide each others fate. If Captain America beat the Red Skull he would be free to return to the Land of the Living and if the Red Skull won his soul would spend eternity in Hell. The Master Judge of the Lower Depths created a ring of Hellfire around the two of them and watched as they did battle with one another. The Red Skull wielding the Grim Reaper's scythe began to gain the upper hand but in the end, Captain America proved victorious. He told Captain America that no one that has ever appeared before him had been able to return to the living and that he was the first and the last to ever do so. True to his word, the great demon lifted his mighty hand and unleashed hellfire from his fingers and struck the hero's name from the Fatal Book and returned him to the land of the living.
Comments: Created by an unaccredited writer and artist.
So who could this powerful demon possibly be? Is the Master Judge of the Lower Depths another demon such as Mephisto, Satannish or even Marduk who have all used the name name, Satan? It is probable that this demon is none of those mentioned above and until some future story may reveal this information, the Master Judge of the Lower Depths is to be considered a unique demon/Hell-lord.
If it was my choice to reveal his identity, I would make the Master Judge of the Lower Depths into the demon named Sammael who is known as the Prince of Demons. Historically according to texts, Sammael was a powerful magician and served as Satan's Angel of Death. These facts alone fit perfectly with the role the Master Judge of the Lower Depths played in the story. It is also stated that this demon also wed to Lilith after she left Adam. Since Lilith has appeared in the Marvel Universe and Sammael hasn't (actually a demon named Sammael has appeared, see here) then the Master Judge of the Lower Depths would make a great connection to her history if she ever appears again. Another aspect that could tie Sammael to the Master Judge of the Lower Depths would be the location of his Hell which is accessible via Hades. This is definite reference to the ancient Greek and Roman underworld. Sammael at one time was made the Patron Saint of the Roman Empire. You can read more about Sammael here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samael.
Other possibilities regarding his identity exist as well. He could be the god Pluto/Hades, Thanatos, or even the Hindu god Chitragupta who kept the records of all the vices and virtues of men and the judge who decided if the souls of the dead would reside in Heaven or Hell.
I'm not sure which versions of the Red Skull or Captain America these were in this story since no real information was given. All I can do is speculate so here are a few possible theories.
The Red Skull featured in this tale could be the original Nazi version. If Captain America was Jeff Mace, William Nasland or the man who later became the Grand Director as per Marvel retcons, this would be acceptable as the only name the Red Skull placed in the Fatal Book was the words "Captain America". Since no secret identity was listed in the book as to who it was, it is safe to assume that whoever assumed the role of Captain America at this time would the one sent to Hell. Another possibility is that this was the original Captain America, Steve Rogers retelling a past tale since no date of reference appeared to imply when this took place.
It can't be the Nazi Red Skull because he was never dead. It could've been an impersonator, though. Or it could have all been a deception. You never know.
The Red Skull in this story could've been George Maxon. He was dead at the point this story was released and he once was the Red Skull.
It would've been Jeff Mace. However, "Steve Rogers" is given as Cap's real name in several golden age stories from late 1945 to 1949, but none of those
stories feature the original Cap, who was on ice at the time. Those would be a variation on "topical references," I suppose. Per the handbooks, Cap's last "original" golden age appearance was in Captain America Comics #48, which was also the last appearance of James Barnes as Bucky. William Nasland was Cap from #49 to #58, after which it was Jeff Mace until 1949.
Even the spirits of the clinically dead have to obey Death Incarnate. Right? And, the same probably holds true for every other mystical entity of non-human origin in the Marvel Universe.
So, the Red Skull seen in this story was probably the original, having an out-of-body experience during his forced hibernation, back then. Ditto, for the Cap. And, if such is the case, then the "Master Judge" was more likely Nightmare Incarnate having a bit of psionic "fun" at their expense.
Thanks to Jeff Christensen for assisting me by answering many of my pain in the butt questions concerning this profile.
Profile by AvatarWarlord72.
The Master Judge of the Lower Depths has no known connections to:
images: (without ads)
Captain America's Weird Tales#74/1, p4, pan2 (main image)
Captain America's Weird Tales#74 (October, 1949)
Last updated: 05/12/12
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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