Friday, 22 May 2009
Satana, The Devil's Daughter
As well as Disco and The Six Million Dollar Man, another thing that ran through the seventies like virgin's blood was satanism. Ol' Beelzebub was never more popular than in the Bronze Age.
Rascally Roy Thomas, who was a genius at spotting a trend and Marvel-izing it, quickly brought the dark side to comics, firstly with Daimon Hellstrom, The Son Of Satan, then followed up with Satana, The Devil's Daughter. Of the two, Satana is the more interesting character, but had the spottier comic book career. Satana ( who unlike all the other she-devil's & female furies, is exactly what her name suggests ) was another one of those potentially great characters stuck in a mostly uninspiring series.
She debuted in the 2nd issue of Vampire Tales, with this four pager from Thomas & Jazzy John Romita. This is actually probably her best appearance, as well as an absolute masterclass in storytelling.
Satana's first full-length tale appeared in Vampire Tales 3, illustrated beautifully by Esteban Maroto & written by Gerry Conway. Alas, the merry-go-round of creative teams that was to curse the sexy succubus had already begun, and the story, although great to look at, didn't make a whole lot of sense. Love those furry goat leg boots though!
Axa's Enrique Romero replaced Maroto for the next couple of tales, as Satana fought against The Four, a group of demons attempting a coup of Hell. This couple of tales tho', are only vaguely related to the previous story, and generally make even less sense. Tony Isabella takes over from Conway here, the series' third writer in as many stories.
After some text stories, and a George Evans drawn tale, attempting to wrap the whole thing up, Satana finally got her colour debut in Marvel Premiere 27, a deeply weird tale, whose only art credit is 'The Tribe'.
It looks in places like Tony DeZuniga, and in others like Yong Montano (who did a lot of the Marvel Classics Comics), but who knows really? By this time, Chris Claremont had taken over the writing on this most idiosyncratic of series, but it still didn't show much in the way of logic or continuity. This tale does also have the most bizarre villain ever, by the way... ( no, you really are looking at what you think you're looking at here. It's a bearded man's head on a sexy babe's body )
Satana's last solo tale was her appearance in Marvel Preview 7, where again, all previous tales have been ignored, and Satana only really shows up a couple of times anyway. It does have art by Vincente Alcazar however.
And apart from a Marvel Team-Up where she unaccountably sacrificed her life to save Dr. Strange's soul, that was it for Satana for the Bronze Age. Like a lot of her contemporaries though, she keeps coming back, but no one's ever really got her right. Maybe the whole concept was just too dark & nihilistic, even for the '70's. But as Marv Wolfman proved with Tomb Of Dracula, it's not impossible to write a series about a totally unrepentant villain. Just extremely difficult.
Satana appears with her brother in this Marvel Essential, and though neither series is truly essential, they are an interesting reminder of when comics' would try just about anything.