Nyarlathotep as Dr. Dexter


Real Name: Nyarlathotep

Identity/Class: Class III demon

Occupation: Messenger of the Outer Gods, avatar to Azathoth, protector of the Great Old Ones, god of chaos

Group Membership: Old Ones (also called elder gods)

Affiliations: Azathoth, Great Old Ones, Outer/elder gods, Nephren-Ka, Starry Wisdom Cult;

formerly the US military

Enemies: Robert Blake, Randolph Carter, Howard Phillips

Known Relatives: Great Old Ones, Azathoth

Aliases: The Black Man, Haunter in the Dark, the All-Seeing Eye, the Crawling Chaos, Haunter in the Dark, Khephnes, Mighty Messenger, Great Messenger, Father of the Million Favored Ones, Stalker among the Stars, Satan, Dr. Ambrose Dexter

Base of Operations: Center of the Earth;

formerly Providence, Rhode Island, USA
formerly ancient Egypt;
formerly Atlantis

First Appearance: Prose: “Nyarlathotep” (1920); first Marvel appearance: Journey into Mystery II#3/1 (April, 1973)

Powers/Abilities: Nyarlathotep was an ageless and immortal being having been created during the formation of the universe. As an outer god, he was able to control mystic energies of the cosmos to varying effects at an undefined level. Nyarlathotep had a great affinity with nature and was able to control wild animals, most notably large jungle cats. His true form was a black shapeless mass of tentacles, but he was able to alter his shape and appearance at will and typically liked to assume the identities of people who wielded considerable power and influence. He was extremely intelligent and showed a great curious fascination with science and technology. The touch of his hands caused instant death as he filled his victims with an intense fear that made their hearts stop beating. Nyarlathotep used his avatar, the Haunter in the Dark, which grew stronger in the darkness.  Nyarlathotep's power, or at least a portion of it, lay inside a crystal trapezohedron, which could absorb darkness and added to his own  strength and power.

Nyarlathotep with panthers


(Nyarlathotep/Journey into Mystery II#3/1 (fb) - BTS) - In the far distant past, the swirling nuclear mass of the Outer God Azathoth created the demonic Nyarlathotep to serve it and act as a messenger, giving his creation freedom and intelligence that it lacked. As the Earth was in its infancy, many tribes of humans began worshiping this powerful entity, thereby granting him an increase of power and respect among other gods. Nyarlathotep invested some of his power within an irregularly shaped trapezohedron gemstone that acted as a gateway to his domain deep inside the Earth’s core. During the sinking of Atlantis, this relic was lost deep in the ocean and later found by a Minoan fisherman who sold it in Egypt. During the Egyptian 14th dynasty, Pharaoh Khephnes purchased the trapezohedron but became possessed by Nyarlathotep who then assumed his form. As the Pharaoh, Nyarlathotep had a great temple built and placed the body of Khephnes alongside the crystal trapezohedron. Much later, he granted Pharaoh Nephren-Ka the gift of prophecy for sacrificing hundreds of followers in his name.

(Journey into Mystery II#3/1(fb) - The temple was buried for thousands of years and later found in the 1880s by an explorer who brought the crystal trapezohedron back to America. While in America, the Starry Wisdom Cult in Providence Rhode Island obtained the unusual crystal and began worshiping it until their demise from suspicious town folk. The trapezohedron lay untouched for decades and was protected by the Haunter in the Dark, Nyarlathotep’s avatar, who waited for someone to come and remove it from the light and return him to power.

Haunter in the Dark

(Journey into Mystery II#3/1) - (Journey into Mystery II#3/1) - The Haunter in the Dark was an avatar of the demonic outer god, Nyarlathotep, and acted as the guardian of the crystal trapezohedron. While investigating the Starry Wisdom Cult in Providence, Robert Blake came across an open chest that contained the crystal trapezohedron and was bombarded with intense fear. He shut the lid on the chest and fled the church. Now devoid of light, the Haunter in the Dark began absorbing the darkness, gaining greater strength and power. The Haunter in the Dark's shadowy form could be seen by many people of Providence flying above the steeple of the old church. On Nyarlathotep’s orders, the Haunter in the Dark started to track down a suitable host for his master to possess. Coming across Robert Blake within his apartment, the creature killed him by instilling heart-stopping fear. His body was found by Dr. Ambrose Dexter the next day.

(Journey into Mystery II#4/1) - Howard Philips, a friend of Robert Blake, began to investigate his death and this led him to the trapezohedron within the church that once belonged to the Starry Wisdom Cult. The Haunter in the Dark sought him out and quickly killed him soon after.

(Journey into Mystery II#3/1 (fb)) - Dr. Ambrose Dexter, under Nyarlathotep’s influence, took the chest housing the trapezohedron and dumped it into the harbor in Providence. Sensing him to be a man of power, Nyarlathotep killed the doctor and assumed his identity.

(Journey into Mystery II#4) - Nyarlathotep's presence in Providence was sensed by a pair of panthers from a local traveling circus. They escaped their cage to seek out their master.

(Journey into Mystery II#4/1 - BTS) - In the years that followed, Nyarlathotep, acting as Dr. Dexter, left his medical practice and gained a high-ranking position in the United States government doing research on nuclear weapons technology.

   Many years later, Edmund Fiske, returning from active military duty, started searching for answers regarding mysterious deaths of his friends, Robert Blake and Howard Phillips. He  found their journals about the Starry Wisdom Cult that they wrote before they died and he read about a demonic creature called the Haunter in the Dark. Undertaking further research, he learnt that Nyarlathotep was behind his friends' deaths. Since both men had been patients of Dr. Dexter's, he set out to find and question him. Gaining entrance to his luxurious home, he forced himself inside and proceeded to question the doctor. During their brief conversation, Edmund realized that Dr. Dexter was none other than Nyarlathotep and  produced a gun in order to kill the demonic creature. However, Nyarlathotep placed a hand on Edmund Fiske’s shoulder and watched as he fell dead on the floor. A butler walked in and was informed that Edmund had suddenly died of a massive heart attack and to summon the police. Dr. Dexter then left the room and headed into the garden followed faithfully by a couple of large black panthers who fawned at his feet and licked his hands for they knew Nyarlathotep, no matter what form he took.

Comments: Conceived by H.P. Lovecraft; Marvel incarnation adapted by Ron Goulart (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks).

Nyarlathotep has a long history in the written works of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, R.E. Howard, and others. In attempting to include all his appearances, I chose only to add historical info as pertaining to his Marvel appearances. This profile is simply an abridged version of the one I originally had and may at a later date incorporate more.

   Of note is that invocations to "Nyarla Thotep" in magic spells have been used in the Conan the Barbarian comic.

   Here is the first written appearance of Nyarlathotep in a short prose story (1920) by H.P. Lovecraft (and which is apparently now in the public domain in the USA and the EU):


Nyarlathotep ... the crawling chaos ... I am the last ... I will tell the audient void ...

   I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons--the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

   And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilization came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences--of electricity and psychology--and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.

   I remember when Nyarlathotep came to my city--the great, the old, the terrible city of unnumbered crimes. My friend had told me of him, and of the impelling fascination and allurement of his revelations, and I burned with eagerness to explore his uttermost mysteries. My friend said they were horrible and impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; and what was thrown on a screen in the darkened room prophesied things none but Nyarlathotep dared prophesy, and in the sputter of his sparks there was taken from men that which had never been taken before yet which shewed only in the eyes. And I heard it hinted abroad that those who knew Nyarlathotep looked on sights which others saw not.

   It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowds to see Nyarlathotep; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the choking room. And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and yellow evil faces peering from behind fallen monuments. And I saw the world battling against blackness; against the waves of destruction from ultimate space; whirling, churning, struggling around the dimming, cooling sun. Then the sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood up on end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on the heads. And when I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest about "imposture" and "static electricity," Nyarlathotep drove us all out, down the dizzy stairs into the damp, hot, deserted midnight streets. I screamed aloud that I was not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace. We swore to one another that the city was exactly the same, and still alive; and when the electric lights began to fade we cursed the company over and over again, and laughed at the queer faces we made.

   I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when we began to depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary marching formations and seemed to know our destinations though we dared not think of them. Once we looked at the pavement and found the blocks loose and displaced by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to shew where the tramways had run. And again we saw a tram-car, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost on its side. When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by the river, and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the top. Then we split up into narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-choked subway entrance, howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was sucked toward the open country, and presently I felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn; for as we stalked out on the dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish moon-glitter of evil snows. Trackless, inexplicable snows, swept asunder in one direction only, where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glittering walls. The column seemed very thin indeed as it plodded dreamily into the gulf. I lingered behind, for the black rift in the green-litter snow was frightful, and I thought I had heard the reverberations of a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but my power to linger was slight. As if beckoned by those who had gone before, I half-floated between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid, into the sightless vortex of the unimaginable.

   Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. A sickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space and reach up to dizzy vacuum above the spheres of light and darkness. And through this revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods--the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep.

In the Cthulhu Mythos stories, he's notorious for having a thousand forms, one of which is the Haunter of the Dark. In case that's not enough evidence, in JIM #4/1 the man who confronts "Ambrose Dexter" says "The shadow demon that escaped that night on the bay, he now inhabits your body. You are Nyarlathotep!"

Robert Blake can presumably not be mistaken for the actor.

Profile by AvatarWarlord72.

Nyarlathotep has no known connections to:

Crystal trapezohedron

Crystal Trapezohedron

Sometime in the ancient past, before the sinking of Atlantis, Nyarlathotep created an irregularly shaped crystal that housed a fraction of his power. This mystical jewel was later found by a Minoan fisherman who brought it to Egypt where it was sold to Pharaoh Khephnes. Sensing that the pharaoh was a man of considerable power, Nyarlathotep took possession of his body and assumed his identity. After a considerable reign, the pharaoh/ Nyarlathotep placed his body alongside the crystal trapezohedron within a tomb devoid of light to increase his power by absorbing darkness. The tomb was later unearthed in the 1800s and the trapezohedron was acquired by the Starry Wisdom Cult in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, where it was worshiped until their eventual demise by suspicious townsfolk. The crystal trapezohedron lay within an open chest guarded by the Haunter in the Dark until it was discovered by Robert Blake who unwittingly shut the lid. The darkness increased Nyarlathotep's power and he sent the Haunter in the Dark to find its master a new host to inhabit. After killing Robert Blake in his apartment, the Haunter in the Dark discovered Dr. Ambrose Dexter as a suitable host body for Nyarlathotep. The crystal trapezohedron was later taken by Dr. Ambrose Dexter and dumped into Providence harbor.

--Journey into Mystery II#3/1

images: (without ads)
Journey into Mystery II#4/1, cover image (main image)
Journey into Mystery II#4/1, p9, pan6 (Nyarlathotep and his pets)
Journey into Mystery II#3/1, cover image (Haunter in the Dark)
Journey into Mystery II#3/1, p6, pan4 (crystal trapezohedron)

Journey into Mystery II#3/1 (April, 1973) - Ron Goulart (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Dan Adkins (inks), Stan Lee & Roy Thomas (editors)
Journey into Mystery II#4/1 (June, 1973) - Ron Goulart (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)

First Posted: 04/13/2008
Last updated: 07/12/2018

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™  and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at:

Special Thanks to www.g-mart.com for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!

Back to Characters