- Rapper Lil Nas X has announced he will drop a pair of shoes containing real human blood.
- The rock band KISS invented the idea of blood-infused merch in a collaboration with Marvel Comics in 1977.
- Both endeavors were called satanic and received similar reactions from critics.
After releasing a fallen angel-themed video on Friday for his new single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” rapper Lil Nas X celebrated satanic imagery again on Monday with the drop of 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes” that contain human blood.
Made in collaboration with MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based company that creates limited edition prank-like products that seem designed purely for Instagram bragging rights, the shoes are modified versions of Nike’s Air Max 97 sneakers featuring pentagram charms and a bible verse, as well as a small amount of ink and blood in an air bubble in the sole of the shoe.
The theme and exclusivity of the shoes, which have a price tag of $1,018 (a reference to Luke 10:18: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”), was enough to get South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to tweet, “Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it’s ‘exclusive.’ But do you know what’s more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul.”
However, both the product and the response to it are nothing new. In 1977, the flamboyant heavy rock band Kiss, who trafficked in both sexual and satanic themes, teamed up with Marvel Comics for a similar stunt.
At the peak of their popularity, the band’s most classic lineup (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley) traveled with legendary comics creator Stan Lee to Marvel’s printing facility outside of Buffalo, New York, where the members’ blood was drawn by a registered nurse under the watchful eye of a notary public.
“The idea being that every kid or everybody who bought a Kiss comic book in some way was getting a little bit of Kiss’ blood in that comic book,” said Lee in a 2016 interview.
The blood was then mixed with red ink and used to print “A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss” – a magazine-sized comic that turned the band into superheroes and found them fighting Dr. Doom.
Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers were supporting characters.
As publicity stunts go, it was a success, as the comic sold 500,000 copies and was Marvel’s best-selling single issue until the 1990 relaunch of Spider-Man.
The reactions were also quite predictable and palpable, as in this report from a local Buffalo news station WGRZ.
In a bizarre twist, Lee, who died in 2018, allegedly had his own blood stolen and made into “Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink” which was used to stamp Marvel comics sold at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Whether or not Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes become a collector’s item or just a pop culture artifact remains to be seen, but “A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss” is now worth a bit more than its $1.50 cover price.