Before all was, I was. Before time was, I waited. I fed on the screaming souls of the Universes. I drank the spoiled milk of dead stars. I am the emptiness outside all understanding. I am Shuma-Gorath.
Ruler of hundreds of dimensions, Shuma-Gorath came to the Earth-Realm over 1,000,000 years ago, along with the other Old Ones. There he ruled the ancient Earth and commanded numerous human sacrifices from ancient civilizations. He and the other Old Ones were banished from the Earth-Realm by the time-traveling sorcerer Sise-Neg. This was all observed by another time-traveling sorcerer, Doctor Strange, who had hoped to defeat Shuma-Gorath in the past so that his master, the Ancient One, would not need to die in a future conflict with the demon.
Shuma-Gorath somehow managed to return during the Hyborean Age (which spans from about 14,000 to 10,000 BC) about 1,000 years before the sinking of Atlantis, and again set himself up as a god. The Old One fed himself on blood sacrifice and tribal war, but any priest or cultist who sought his favor was also killed. After an age of Shuma-Gorath's torturous rule, some sent out a cry to a new god, Crom. Crom sent a storm of the Northlands, and with it three iron-bound books and a key to unlock them. Armed with the books, a shaman went to confront Shuma-Gorath. He read aloud from the books atop a mountain, and just before he finished the third volume, a vengeful Shuma-Gorath incinerated the mortal with a blast of energy. A flame-headed cloud rose from the ashes, however, sealing Crom's spell, and imprisoning Shuma-Gorath within the mountain. The mountain was later named Mount Crom in the avenging god's honor. The three books became known as the Iron-Bound Books of Shuma-Gorath. The Vishanti and Shuma-Gorath were eventually known to each other some time after the formation of the mystic trinity and became bitter foes to this day, neither succeeding in destroying the other.
Later in the Hyborean Age, the sorcerer Kulan Gath and the sorceress Vammatar fought with their two armies to a standstill. Negotiating, Vammatar revealed that she had the Iron-Bound Books of Shuma-Gorath, while Kulan Gath had the key to open them. Vammatar proposed an alliance sealed by marriage, which would allow them to work together to release Shuma-Gorath and command his power for their own. At the base of Mount Crom, Vammatar turned on Gath, and while they fought Crom sent down a bolt of lightning that created an avalanche. The books were buried, and the newlywed sorcerers were separated, each believing the other to be dead for many years to come.
A century later, Vammatar came into conflict with the young warrior Conan of Cimmeria. At one point, the sorceress set fire to the Village of the Snow Bear where Conan was raised in order to clear a path to Mount Crom. Conan received a dream of its destruction (possibly a vision from his deity, Crom) in which the name "Shuma-Gorath" was chanted repeatedly. With his traveling campanion Hobb, Conan headed north to confront the sorceress and her Witch-Men. Once he arrived at Mount Crom, however, Shuma-Gorath took control of Hobb's mind and compelled him to read from the Iron-Bound Books, freeing him from his mountain prison. By this time Vammatar had been joined by Kulan Gath, and for a time the pair seemed to hold the demon with their spells. He was not under their control, however, and the pair were obliterated as Shuma-Gorath finished relating the tale of his imprisonment. Conan took up the books, and used their power to resist the demon's attacks. Shuma-Gorath offered Conan immense power if he would stop, but Conan refused. Instead, Conan threw the books from the mountaintop to the storm above, returning them to Crom. Crom's power then once again sealed Shuma-Gorath in one of his home dimensions.
In modern times, Doctor Strange and his mentor, the Ancient One came under a series of attacks by beings such as Nightmare, Sligguth, Ebora, N'Gabthoth, Dagoth, Kathulos, and the Living Buddha. At one point, Strange detected a peculiar energy trail, which he followed to a black hole that spoke with the voice of Shuma-Gorath, and taunted him with promises of the demon's return. Arriving at his master's side, Strange learned that Shuma-Gorath meant to return through the mind of the Ancient One. Strange fought a losing battle against the demon within the Ancient One's mind, one felt by mystics across the world. Unable to stop the demon, Strange was forced to kill his mentor.
At a later point, Strange was forced to destroy most of his talismans to prevent the alien sorcerer Urthona from using them. (It was later revealed that Agamotto intervened, sequestering them away from even Strange himself.) Doing so weakened dimensional barriers, enabling the Old Ones, Shuma-Gorath included, to once again establish a foothold in the Earth-Realm.
Doctor Strange and Kaluu battled his forces, with Strange being forced to embrace the use of black magic after becoming host of the Wings of Needless Sorrow made him too impure to use his white magic. After obtaining a reservoir of dark energy from his battle with Shuma-Gorath's agent Ghaszaszh Nyirh, forcefully absorbing Victoria Bentley's magic potential, and merging with the chaos lord Arioch, Strange confronted Shuma-Gorath in its own dimension located 1,000 planes away from Earth. Strange's accumulation of power allowed him to match Shuma-Gorath's size and fight evenly with the demon while draining Shuma-Gorath's power progressively with the Wings of Needless Sorrow. In Limbo, the battle appeared to Belasco and the visiting Fantastic Four as a vision of flame which caused him to state that all the netherrealms would collapse if he could not stop them. Shuma-Gorath told Strange that although he was draining his power, he was nothing except that power and would cause Strange to become him if he defeated him. He then created a replica of the Earth, which he used to ravage the real Earth by turning the sky into flame. Strange's attempts to protect the Earth-replica only created a mystical backlash that pained Earth's other sorcerers, and Shuma-Gorath taunted the Sorcerer Supreme that he could not hope to win as both a Protector and a Destroyer.
Strange chose to become a Destroyer, using the replica as a weapon (which caused a multitude of deaths and natural disasters on the real Earth) and ultimately merging with Shuma-Gorath as the demon had earlier predicted. Now partially under Strange's control, Shuma-Gorath impaled himself on one of his own tentacles. The demon was destroyed, though Strange's own ego was also destroyed in the process. Guided by Kaluu, Strange's spirit traveled through many dimensions, burning off the taint of Shuma-Gorath and mending Strange's ego on the return to the Earth-Realm. In the process, Shuma-Gorath also slowly re-formed, though still prevented from reaching Earth.
Later, Shuma-Gorath was invoked by Nicholas Scratch, who tricked the Fantastic Four into reading a spell which allowed the demon to come to Earth. Scratch offered the Fantastic Four and Salem's Seven as a sacrifice to Shuma-Gorath in its weak and hungry state, but Shuma-Gorath was interrupted by Doctor Strange. Strange teleported Shuma-Gorath to Stonehenge, where he banished the demon to a place "beyond space and time".
Shuma-Gorath was revealed to be one of the four masters of the Many-Angled Ones as Lord Mar-Vell of Earth-10011 summoned him alongside Kthl, Yot-Soter, and Nyerlathortech before stabbing Thanos during the Necropsy Ritual in order to destroy Lady Death of Earth-616, as they had done to Death of Earth-10011. This inadvertently summoned her into Earth-10011, which she proceeded to destroy along with crippling the bodies of the Many-Angled Ones for eons.
It appears that Shuma-Gorath was able to escape the obliteration of the Cancerverse, as he was later summoned to Earth-616 by the Spear of Destiny. Before he could cross through his portal leading to Earth fully, Shuma-Gorath was stabbed in the eye with the Spear of Destiny by Vision and forced back into the rift, effectively banishing him once more.
He returned to the earthly plane once again during Thanos' invasion of Manhattan while a new group of Avengers lead by Luke Cage were barely keeping the alien invasion at bay, when Doctor Strange was forced by Ebony Maw into summoning him. Shuma-Gorath displayed the ability to possess hordes of people while causing tentacles to spew forth from their bodies. Despite assaults on his physical body from the Avengers, Shuma-Gorath was able to reform moments after. He was eventually defeated when White Tiger's amulet was amplified with the chi of all Manhattan's citizens and out sprung forth the White Tiger Force, which proceeded to eat Shuma-Gorath's astral form close by. However, it was stated by Spider Hero that they were fighting only the smallest part of Shuma-Gorath, akin to its fingernail scratching at their reality and trying to tear through.
Shuma-Gorath is a powerful and ancient demon that possesses vast supernatural powers, and is stated to be the "archetypal Class Three demon". In his native dimension he is virtually unstoppable. Given his past reformations, it is unknown if he can ever truly be killed.
Among his many mystical powers is the ability to communicate with and control others both within his vicinity and across dimensional barriers. He can create and direct powerful blasts of mystical energy, and affect transmutations on a planetary scale.
His skin is rubbery and armored, making him difficult to damage except by the most powerful magics. Though he often appears as a scaly being with six to eight tentacles and a great, central eye, during the Hyborean Age he was also seen to have numerous pincers, claws, and insectoid limbs, in addition to a large, fanged maw. Similarly, he has been depicted as either greenish or purple in color. Presumably, he can alter his form to his will.
His size seems to be related to his power, as he is truly gigantic in his home dimension. On Earth he has always appeared substantially smaller, though it is confirmed that only the smallest part of Shuma-Gorath's essence manifests on Earth when he is invoked, thus he has only been seen at full power within his home dimension.
Shuma-Gorath's name is often invoked across many dimensions by beings seeking dark power.
Name created by Robert E. Howard; Character created/adapted by Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner
A sorcerer from an alien dimension named Shagreen, once invoked the power of an entity known as Cthuma-Gurath. This may have been another name used by Shuma-Gorath. Whether Shuma-Gorath maintained worshippers on Shagreen's world has yet to be revealed.
Shuma-Gorath, along with his followers, bear a striking resemblance to the Old Ones described in H.P. Lovecraft's works of weird fiction, notably Cthulhu, Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth.
Shuma-Gorath was mentioned first as the name of a deity in Robert E. Howard's short story "The Curse of the Golden Skull"