Welcome to the D-List: Satana
While Halloween is certainly a spooky holiday, no single decoration or costume truly captures the entirety of the Halloween spirit. However, there is one scary monster who represents absolute evil. The Devil’s likeness is definitely a common sight throughout October, but have you ever wondered what his kids are like?
Satana Hellstrom has magical powers and can steal your soul. She has existed for over 4 decades, but has lacked much in the way of character development since the 1970s. To celebrate the scariest time of the year, let’s welcome Satana, the Devil’s daughter, to the D-List.
Satana first appeared in Vampire Tales #2 in October 1973. Created by Roy Thomas and John Romita Sr., Satana walked the streets of New York City at night, but a man pulled her into an alley and attempted to rape her. The man was unsuccessful, however, because Satana stole his soul and announced that she was the Devil’s daughter (to be fair, I’ve heard plenty of people in New York City claim to be related to Satan). Quite the bold statement, but it was apparently true.
Satana had been exiled from hell and unable to contact her father. While vulnerable on Earth, a cabal of disturbed religious fanatics tried to kill her on multiple occasions, but she always managed to escape. The woman even befriended some Satanists, and actually aided a priest. It was interesting to watch Satana encounter different people on Earth, because she had the capacity to do good deeds, but also needed to feed on human souls (quite the devilish diet). Satana eventually learned, much to her displeasure, that it was her father who banished her from Hell in an attempt to test her mettle. Around the time of this revelation, Marvel granted Satana a proper origin.
Years ago, the Devil visited Earth disguised as a human and fell in love with a woman named Victoria. They married, had two children, and life seemed normal until their daughter was five years old. Victoria caught her husband teaching Satana how to conduct blood rituals and sacrifices, so the man revealed he was Satan (what an interesting “take your daughter to work” day). This drove Victoria insane, so Satana and her brother, Daimon, became wards of the state and were separated.
While that was an interesting origin, it deserved more detail. Satana’s younger years were probably filled with conflict, and it would have been fantastic to see her come to terms with her demonic lineage. Furthermore, since Satana’s relationship with her father was now fractured, writers could have granted her a rebellious nature and caused her to regularly side with heroes. Regardless of Satana’s excellent potential, Marvel had other plans.
Dr. Strange was transformed into a werewolf, so Spider-Man convinced Satana to help the hero (with some treats and belly rubs, I hope). She went to the astral plane to fight the demons who took control of the sorcerer, and engaged in an incredible fight. Satana was weakened by the battle, however, and had to sacrifice her life in order to save Stephen. The issue of Marvel Team-up in which this occurred was released in 1979, and Satana would not appear again until the mid-90s. Those appearances, however, amounted to little more than a backup story in a few issues of Hellstorm, then Satana disappeared again for another decade.
In the 2000s, Dr. Strange recruited Satana and two other mystical women to defeat a demon. Satan revealed himself as the mastermind behind the demon’s release, and tried to convince his daughter to join him and rule the world. Not only did Satana refuse, but she helped the heroes battle her father, and the small team emerged victorious (so not everybody wants to rule the world – suck it Tears for Fears).
This was an interesting moment in Satana’s history because she could have sided with her father and returned home – a place from which she had been banished for so long. Instead, she chose to save humanity. Her early appearances involved her desire to return to Hell, yet when she had the opportunity, she refused because of her father’s viciousness. Perhaps Satana was developing a conscience and an attachment to humans.
Though it was evident that Satana wasn’t wholly heroic or truly evil, she protected the Earth from large, demonic threats. Satana tried to free the criminal, the Hood, from the clutches of Dormammu, and she helped Misty Knight stop villains from selling demonic weapons. While these and other short-lived alliances granted her sparse appearances for a few years, she finally landed a regular role in a comic starting in 2011.
When Luke Cage was in charge of the Thunderbolts, he wanted a sorcerer on his team of “reformed” villains, so Daimon Hellstrom suggested his sister. While Satana was initially defiant, she was very happy to help Cage once she realized that Man-Thing was a member of the team (and not just because of his sexy name). Sure, she reigned hellfire down on enemies, seduced Namor, and protected her teammates with magic, but she was certain that her purpose with the Thunderbolts was to help Man-Thing evolve, and it was the highlight of her tenure with the team. When this iteration of the Thunderbolts disbanded, however, Satana immediately competed in an evil contest to gain dominion over Hell. Perhaps she wanted to rule Hell in order to protect humanity from classic villains such as Hela and Mephisto, who also took part in the contest. That’s probably not the case, but I’d like to think it was.
I really wanted to see Satana in heroic roles after her time with the Thunderbolts. I suppose that stealing souls sort of negates heroism, but on numerous occasions, she helped humans, protected her teammates, and fought demons. Unfortunately, Satana most recently appeared, albeit briefly, kidnapping Dr. Strange. Since writers are consistently utilizing her as an evil character, I don’t expect much development for Satana in the near future. I’m certainly happy that she has appeared within recent decades, but the earliest stories that featured Satana are what gave her the most unique characterization. Lately, she has been written as little more than an antagonistic gimmick.
Satana appeared in one alternate timeline story where she possessed the body of a religious teenager, and outside of comics, she has appeared in a few mobile games, and had a cameo in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I would love to see a spotlight on Satana again, perhaps in a Halloween special, or regular use in an ongoing title. At least she hasn’t been completely forgotten, so I hope that Satana will be granted a larger role sometime in the future, and continue to make the Marvel Universe one hell of a place to…
Speak of the Devil! Satana is now co-starring in a new Spirits of Vengeance title! Hop on the Satana bandwagon now and let’s ride that highway to hell, folks!