Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues! There are plenty of Marvel Comics authorities who could give you the story of the in-depth evolution of horror comics in the 1970s, from the relaxing of the Comics Code around 1970 onward. I’ll spare all of us a trip down that particular alley and cut to the chase. Marvel Comics is THE comic book publishing house in pop culture right now with nearly every movie that ever gets made being based on a superhero figure from The House of Ideas.
The 1970s saw Stan Lee and company churn out countless horror comics to cash in on the new flexibility in four-color storytelling. Some were long-lasting successes, like Tomb of Dracula, and others weren’t, like The Frankenstein Monster. When Marvel ventured outside established works by Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley and others they actually produced some very intriguing characters who had more potential than many actual horror films from the 70s. Excluding the overworked Drac and Frank here are five of Marvel’s most intriguing horror figures from that experimental decade.
1. SATANA THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER
Comment: How has this character NOT been the subject of multiple movies by this point? You’d think that Marvel would have learned long ago not to let its strong female horror figures lie unused. For decades Stan and friends let their character Rachel Van Helsing, the young blonde descendant of a long line of vampire slayers go unexploited only to watch potential millions of dollars fly away as Buffymania took hold in the 90s.
Satana Hellstrom was the half-sister of Damian Hellstrom, Marvel’s Son of Satan character. Like Damian she was the offspring of Satan and a mortal woman. Unlike Damian, who went goody-goody to spite his infernal father, Satana was a loyal Daddy’s Girl who was happy to try to spread her father’s ways in the human world.
When she wasn’t battling her half-brother or serving as the Earthly object of worship for a Satanic Cult or facing down covens of demons conspiring to overthrow her father’s rule of Hell Satana was a very successful succubus, and it’s easy to see why.
Even the more “adult” black and white horror comics of the 1970s couldn’t show what a succubus REALLY does, so Satana set about harvesting souls by simply kissing her victims, despite occassional dialogue panels indicating that something a little more … involved … might be going on. Mortal souls would emerge as black butterflies from the mouths of the dead, shriveled bodies of Satana’s prey and our sultry protagonist would then crush those butterflies between her fingers, proud to send another soul to her father’s domain.
A cinematic Satana could be given full-blown horror treatment and be a female franchise-spawner to compete with Freddy Krueger and the like. Continue reading