I first encountered Satana in Marvel Team-Up. As illustrated by Mike Vosberg and Steve Leihola, she certainly intrigued, cutting a striking figure with her ram’s horned cowl, skin-friendly bodysuit and goat hair boots. The latter could be found in many a discothèque, but goats were always associated with Satan, and her choice in fashion seemed apropos.
Satana was the second heroic sorceress I happened upon in the comics, and she impressed me with her courage and rebellious goodness. She was the daughter of Satan, but she behaved benevolently toward Spider-Man and sacrificed her life to rescue Stephen Strange. That gift spoke volumes about her character.
Marvel isn’t like DC. Super heroines have an equal shot at getting up and walking again as well as returning from the dead. However, Satana’s subsequent appearances often seemed less consistent with what I gathered in that issue of Marvel Team-Up. I was very hopeful that a writer of Jeff Parker’s caliber would steer a clearer path for Satana, and Parker doesn’t disappoint.
Through Stephen Strange, Parker reminds readers that Satana can be “Very good.” He should know, given his debt to her. Parker then offers two explanations for her tarnished appearances. Occasionally, her hellish nature takes over. That might explain Satana’s unusually nasty behavior in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s tale for Girl Comics.
While I know Satana from old seventies comics, others will likely be more familiar with Parker’s reference to she being part of the Hood’s gang. Parker cleans that misconception up as well: “Perhaps, I was keeping an eye on him…preventing him from falling to even darker forces…” Booster Gold and Green Arrow claimed something similar in the crap 1988 mini-series Millennium. I like Satanna more than both of those idiots put together, so I’m good with Parker’s explanation.
All of Parker’s refiguring runs in a playful quest-type plot. Parker is really aiming for comedy, so he relates his story with a light touch until he cuts loose in a hilarious moment in which Satana realizes she’s been had and then suggests this arduous trip wasn’t really necessary.
Kev Walker provides the impact to Parker’s humor with an expression-filled Satana. When we first encounter her, she seems as cool and dignified as one expects. She’s a Princess of Hell’s Court. However, she’s down-to-earth, peeved and embarrassed when faced with some magical sleight of hand. Her visage turns to open awe when beholding the majesty of Man-Thing.
Overall, Walker takes an interesting tack when depicting Satana. Despite the retention of her skin-bearing costume, she doesn’t exude sex appeal. Rather, Walker creates the atmosphere of somebody playing at being sexy. It’s almost like she’s a kid dressing up in her mother’s clothing. She just seems out of place in the whole femme fatale routine, and that’s fitting given that through the entire tale, she never wanted to kill or even marginally hurt Stephen and Luke. She just wanted to be left alone and deter them from finding her. Furthermore, this flourish suits her longer history. Satana always seemed uncomfortable with her status and just wanted to be good.