VITTORIO MONTESI

Real Name: Vittorio Montesi

Identity/Class: Human;
   Vatican City citizen

Occupation: Priest, protector of the Darkhold

Group Membership: Catholic Church

Affiliations: Louise Hastings, Jinx (William Hastings), Dr. DiFinizio, Dr. Watts (see comments)

Enemies: Chthon, Dracula (Vlad Tepes)

Known Relatives: Unidentified wife (deceased), Victoria "Vicki" Montesi (adoptive daughter (see comments)), Giuseppi Montesi (brother, deceased), Paolo and "Raffaela" Montesi, Giacomo Montesi, Luciano Montesi, Marcello Montesi, others (ancestors)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Vatican City, Rome, Italy

First Appearance: Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#15/2 (March 1990)

Powers/Abilities: Though narrow-minded and somewhat bigoted, Vittorio nevertheless has a keen intellect in other respects, and is an expert in occult lore, particularly anything related to the Darkhold and its creator Chthon. 

    He has a good enough memory to be able to keep the entire inventory of his large occult library entirely in his head. 

    As a Montesi he is immune to corruption by dark magic and cannot be possessed by pages of the Darkhold as other humans can. However, this did not render him immune to falling prey to more mundane temptations to use its magic; indeed, his awareness of his natural immunity to magical corruption may have given him a false sense of security.

Height: 5'9" (by approximation)
Weight: 170 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black, may be naturally gray and dyed (see comments)

History:
(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#12/2 (fb) - BTS) - During the 12th century Pope Eugene III (see comments) appointed young monk Paolo Montesi to guard the Book of Sins (Darkhold), and gave him special dispensation to marry and sire heirs would could succeed him as the book's custodians.

(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#15/2 (fb) - BTS) - In the modern day, Guiseppi Montesi was the guardian, but either had no heir or none that had yet reached adulthood (see comments). His younger sibling Vittorio studied the Malachy Prophecy tied to the book, which seemed to predict the fates of future popes, including that the 266th Pope would be the last, after which Rome would be destroyed (see comments). Many assumed this would have something to do with vampires, as their undead race had been created via the Darkhold's magics and because vampire lords such as Varnae and his successor Dracula had long harried the Montesis since the Book of Sins contained magical instructions (dubbed the Montesi formula) to destroy them all.

(Darkhold#1 (fb) - BTS) - Vittorio married an American woman with the intention of siring an heir to the family line. He also befriended fellow occult expert Louise Hastings, a professor of archeology at Oxford University.

(Darkhold#14 (fb) - BTS) - Vittorio was in charge of the Vatican's occult library, but kept the inventory entirely in his head. Louise chided him about this, but Vittorio insisted that he would always be present to show her which books were where, as he stated that he never took any holidays.

   Concerned that he had yet to sire an heir, Vittorio consulted with physicians Dr. Watts and DiFinizio (see comments) to find the source of the problem. They ran a series of tests that confirmed Vittorio was sterile and could not father children.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#145/2 (fb) - BTS) - In his desperation to save the world from the Darkhold, Vittorio used a fertility spell from the Book of Sins to sire a child, unaware that the seed he planted in his wife's womb was not his own but Chthon's, a child the demonic Elder God intended to use to eventually fulfill the Malachy Prophecy and return him to Earth's dimension. However, from the birth of "his" daughter Victoria (Vicki) Vittorio resented her; his friends assumed this was because he had hoped for a son, but in truth deep down he sensed she wasn't really his child.

(Darkhold#1 (fb) - BTS) - Vittorio tried to teach Vicki about her duty to become custodian of the Darkhold, though Vittorio left out mention that it had been authored by Chthon so his power would endure and one day bring summon him home from extradimensional exile, possibly because this information clashed with Catholic doctrine. However, picking up on her father's disdain for her and angered at his neglect of herself and her mother as Vittorio buried himself in research in his occult library, Vicki became estranged from Vittorio, believing his resentment towards her stemmed from her not being born a boy who could carry on the traditions he held so precious but which she considered superstitious rubbish. Rejecting the family legacy, Vicki studied medicine intending to become a doctor, and came out as a lesbian.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#145/2 (fb) - BTS) - Both Vicki's rejection of his teachings and her homosexuality, which Vittorio considered sinful, provided him new reasons to resent her, further masking the underlying cause for his disdain.

(Dracula Lives!#6 - BTS) - Dracula invaded the Vatican and murdered Giuseppi.

(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#15/2 (fb) - BTS) - Following his sibling's demise, Vittorio took up the mantle of Darkhold custodian.

(Darkhold#1 (fb) - BTS) - Vittorio discovered that the Darkhold had come into the possession of Doctor Stephen Strange, Earth's Sorcerer Supreme.

(Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#15/2 (fb) - BTS) - When Dr. Strange used the Montesi formula to destroy all vampires across the world, Vittorio speculated that if the undead were not to cause the fulfillment of the Malachy Prophecy then it might instead be brought about by Chthon's next and final rising. 

(Darkhold#1 (fb)) - Believing Vicki was destined to oppose her, the demon Lilith Kiskillilla tricked Darkhold cultists into instead believing Vicki was destined to threaten Chthon's return. As a result, the cultists tried to assassinate Vicki with a bomb planted in her apartment in Rome. Vicki suffered relatively minor injuries but her girlfriend, karate instructor Nash Salvato, was left comatose. Vittorio visited Vicki in Saint Anthony's Hospital and was present when she awoke after three days unconscious, but his presence was not welcomed by his daughter, who sarcastically asked if he was there to give her last rites before demanding he leave. She argued with Vittorio, explaining to the other two men present in the room - Doctor Lorenzo DiFinizio and Interpol Special Agent Samson Buchanan - that Father Montesi was her literal father, disparaging the rules that he claimed allowed him to have children as mumbo-jumbo that had fooled her mother but not her. 

    Vittorio explained to the confused medical man that the Montesis were incorruptible and hence had been assigned the special duty of safeguarding the world by being custodians of the indestructible Book of Sins, and when Vicki again expressed her skepticism, Vittorio insisted that the book would eventually return to their custody and that she must be ready to take up the family burden. When she rebutted this, he demanded to know why she had to always defy him, prompting her to start listing her long-standing list of reasons. Her diatribe was interrupted by a sudden and thankfully brief nightmarish vision (unknown to any then present, caused by loose pages of the Darkhold being distributed by Chthon's agent the Dwarf). Recovering, Vicki suddenly recalled that Nash had been present for the explosion and worriedly asked for her status; the doctor informed Vicki that Nash was alive but badly injured, and Vittorio, needlessly and flippantly, added "Let's just say she won't be practicing karate any more." Enraged at his callousness, Vicki ordered them out of the room.

(Darkhold#9 (fb) - BTS) - As Darkhold pages began to cause havoc around the world, distributed by the Dwarf, Vicki discovered that Vittorio's beliefs were not mere superstitions, and although she remained estranged from her father, she teamed up with Louise Hastings and Sam Buchanan as the Darkhold Redeemers, seeking to track down and secure the pages. Aware (at least in general terms) of this, Vittorio began to fear that a time of crisis was approaching and that his past misdeed might come back to haunt him.

(Darkhold#9) - Louise Hastings' daughter Caprice was slain during one of the Redeemers' missions, and at Louise's request Vittorio flew to Los Angeles to perform her funeral service. Later, at the wake, he briefly conversed with Louise and tried to raise his concerns, but she cut the conversation short, distracted by thoughts pertaining to Caprice. Spotting that Vittorio was now alone, Vicki approached hoping to try to mend fences, and apologized for her years of deriding everything he had tried to teach her about the Darkhold and her family's legacy now that bitter experience had taught her that much of it was true. 

    Vittorio accepted the apology and asked his daughter if she was now ready to accept her duties as the Darkhold's guardian, but was dismayed to hear her explain that the Redeemers had a plan to neutralize the loose Darkhold pages all in one go and then leave Dr. Strange to guard the rest of the book while she resumed her medical career. Vittorio angrily accused her (not inaccurately) of continuing to shirk her responsibilities, and when she asked him to understand that she had a life before becoming involved hunting down Darkhold pages, he angrily derided the "life of sin" she had led with Nash. 

    Ignoring her warning to back off as Vicki's anger visibly rose, Vittorio deliberately provoked Vicki by stating that Nash's quadriplegic condition hardly constituted living, at which Vicki lashed out, backhanding him across the face. As others at the wake held Vicki back to prevent further violence, Vittorio taunted her, noting he had struck a nerve. Any further argument was curtailed as Vicki suffered a sudden Darkhold-related vision that left her unconscious.

(Darkhold#9 - BTS) - Vittorio returned to Rome soon afterwards, leaving things with Vicki unresolved.

(Darkhold#14 - BTS) - Vittorio went on holiday, and thus was absent when Louise Hastings visited his Vatican occult library, wherein she was literally led by the demon Diabolique to discover the letter confirming he was infertile.

(Marvel Comics Presents I#145/2 (fb) - BTS) - Louise called Vittorio and confronted him, and he admitted that he had used the Darkhold's power to sire his child. Adding this to other clues she had noticed while working with Vicki, Louise realized Vicki's true parentage, and why Vittorio had really resented Vicki from the moment she was born.

(Darkhold#16 - BTS) - After Louise Hasting's death and anticipating forthcoming conflict against Lilith and the demon Zarathos, Vicki and her Darkhold Redeemer allies decided her mystically gifted fourteen year old grandson Jinx needed to be placed somewhere he would be safe, and arranged for Vittorio to take the boy in.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, Jean-Marc Lofficier, Randy Lofficier, David Day and Dan Day.

    Per Jean-Marc Lofficier, "
The Pope that Paolo reported to was Eugene III, not Eugene VII as wrongly indicated in <Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#12/2>"
There's never been a Pope Eugene VII, but Eugene III was Pope from 1145 until 1153, which fits well with the loose Darkhold scrolls being bound back into a book by the mad monk Aelfric in 1149.

   Since the role of Darkhold custodian passed from Giuseppi to his brother Vittorio it would seem clear that Giuseppi either had no heir or his heir was too young to take up the duty when Giuseppi died. Given that Vittorio was desperate enough to use black magic to sire his own heir, and then didn't accept her rejecting said inheritance despite his intense disdain for her, strongly suggests that she was the only heir.

   While the Darkhold is fictional, the Malachy Prophecy is genuine, and does indeed state that the 266th Pope will be the last. All JML did was tie that very real prediction to Chthon. In case anyone is wondering "so, when will we get to the 266th Pope?" the answer is "Now." The current incumbent, Pope Francis, is the 266th. Since he's 84 years old at the time I write this profile, I guess that means we're due an apocalypse in the next few years. Which would be annoying to say the least, as I still haven't finished cleaning up after the last one in 2012, the date the Mayans predicted the world would end.

   I've described Victoria as his adoptive daughter, but I don't think that's strictly right, as he never actually went through a legal adoption process since most people believed she was his biological child. Maybe stepdaughter is more accurate, as that is the term usually applied to the children your spouse has had with someone other than you.

   In his three panel appearance in Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme his hair is mostly hidden by his priest's cap, but does appear to be gray in one panel. However, he's definitely got black hair throughout his appearances in Darkhold, except in Darkhold#8, where he has black hair on top but white on the sides - but only for one panel! Maybe the initial appearance is in error, but he might be being vain and dying his graying hair black or wearing a wig to receding/balding hair. Equally inconsistent is his height. In Darkhold#1 when he visits Vicki at the hospital he is clearly a good deal shorter than either of her other visitors (see left), but in Darkhold#9 he appears to be somewhat taller than Vicki (see right), who is officially 5'11", a figure reached by comparing her to other established characters she interacted with in multiple issues. So unless Sam Buchanan and Dr DiFinizio are exceptionally tall, the panel in either Darkhold#1 or Darkhold#9 is misleading. Since he had just conducted a public funeral service perhaps Vittorio was wearing shoes with lifts in them, another sign of personal vanity over his appearance?

   There's some confusion as to which physician Vittorio consulted over his inability to have children. When Louise finds the paperwork in Vittorio's office the letter attached to his medical report is headed "from the desk of Doctor Watts," but the letter informing Vittorio he is sterile is headed "from the desk of Doctor DiFinizio." I assume that both men were involved in running tests on Vittorio. I also assume that the DiFinizio who informed Vittorio he was sterile is not the same DiFinizio who was present in Vicki's hotel room when he woke up after surviving the Darkholders' assassination attempt. The man who tested Vittorio identifies himself in the letter as "your friend and colleague," suggesting he works for the Vatican and knows Vittorio well, but the DiFinizio who looks after Vicki in the hospital is a colleague of hers (Vicki was a medical student who worked at the hospital), and yet had no idea Vittorio was her father, nor of Vittorio's special role. It's possible his surprise wasn't down to Vittorio being a Catholic priest (who normally wouldn't be expected to have children) but rather at not expecting a man the doctor had declared sterile decades ago to have an adult child. However, since he works with Vicki, if he was also friends with Vittorio you'd think the doctor would have picked up on the matching surnames. DiFinizio doesn't strike me as an overly common name, so I'm guessing that if Vittorio's physician isn't the same person as Vicki's work colleague they are still likely related, perhaps father (Vittorio's physician) and son (Vicki's colleague).

    This profile was completed 7/12/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Loki.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Vittorio Montesi should not be confused with his relatives:

and has no known connections to:


images: (without ads)
Darkhold#9, p7, pan1 (main image)
Darkhold#1, p9, pan2 (headshot)
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#15/2, p5, pan3 (in monk's robes, studying occult pages)
Darkhold#1, p9, pan1 (height comparison with Buchanan and DiFinizio)
Darkhold#9, p8, pan4 (height comparison with Vicki, white highlights in hair)


Appearances:
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme#15/2 (March 1990) - Roy Thomas, Jean-Marc Lofficier, Randy Lofficier (writers), David Day and Dan Day (artists), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Darkhold#1 (October 1992) - Christopher Cooper (writer), Richard Case (pencils), Mark McKenna (inks), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Darkhold#9 (June 1993) - Christopher Cooper (writer), Rurik Tyler (pencils), Bob Downs (inks), Hildy Mesnik (editor)
Darkhold#14 (November 1993) - Christopher Cooper (writer), Rurik Tyler (pencils), Bob Downs (inks), Hildy Mesnik (editor)
Darkhold#16 (January 1994) - Christopher Cooper (writer), Rurik Tyler (pencils), Bob Downs and Mike Espesito (inks), Hildy Mesnik (editor)
Marvel Comics Presents I#145/2 (Early January 1994) - Christopher Cooper (writer), Reggie Jones (layouts), Rey Garcia (finishes), Richard Ashford (editor)


First Posted: 09/16/2021
Last updated:
09/15/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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