Welcome to Comic Relief #8. To see the earlier installments of Comic Relief (including earlier installments about Lady Satan) click here.
After a brief detour back into Lady Satan’s wartime non-powered Nazi-fighting days, today we return to the later incarnation of Lady Satan, in which she’s a supernaturally powered demon fighter.
But first, a few preliminary matters. In my post on Lady Satan’s last appearance in Red Seal Comics #17, I mistakenly said that that issue came out in 1945. The correct date is July 1946. Today’s issue, #18, hit stands in October, 1946. This comic apparently had a rather erratic publishing schedule. And, in fact, this is the last issue published by Chesler Comics. The later issues were published by a completely different company altogether. The Golden age was confusing.
Speaking of confusing, let us say something about the cover. The glorious, glorious cover.
I don’t have the foggiest idea what’s happening here, but that giant caveman fucking cracks me the fuck up. I love how he can’t be bothered to use a more advanced weapon or wear proper pants, but he takes the time to neatly braid his beard. I also love how those eye-beams from the Mullet Master seem to provide little more than illumination. What’s this superhero’s name, Lamp Face Man? The Living Bat Signal? My-Powers-are-Lamer-Than-Aquaman Man?
And the best part: We aren’t just rescuing a damsel in distress. No! This guy’s captured almost a dozen hot chicks! It’s like he wanted the whole cheerleading team to himself. And people thought the 90s were excessive. But what the shit is he going to do with them? There’s no way his giganto-cock is gonna fit in even the sluttiest of them, so rape is out of the question. Is he gonna eat them? Dress them up like dolls and play tea-party? Force them to teach him how to make better sartorial decisions? I must know, damn it!
Lady Satan shows up on page 17, in a pretty eye-catching introductory panel.
It’s not bad. Definitely the kind of thing that will sell comics. And while Lady Satan is a horror comic now, the last issue didn’t fully commit to the horror aesthetic. This one, however, wants absolutely everything about the mis-en-scene to scream “HORROR!” Bats, bones, basements, broken boards and bondage–it’s all there. There’s just one little thing that bugs me, though…
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HER LEGS???
Her left leg seems to have been amputated at the knee. I get that it’s supposed to be folded under her, but that’s not what a god damn folded leg looks like. Unless her leg has suffered a Joe Theismann in at least two places, it wouldn’t completely fold under her body like that. And her right leg starts out all right, until we get to what I presume is supposed to be a foot. This isn’t quite a Liefeldian level of Foot Failure, but it’s pretty bad. Are those the straps of her high heels going around it? If so, then where in the holy mothercuntfuck are her toes? She’s not wearing panty hose, because the skin on her legs looks just like the skin on her arms–unless she’s wearing panty hose on her arms, in which case, what the fuck, Lady Satan? That’s just weird.
Let’s get into the story.
Our comic here is following the time honored Golden Age tradition of introducing new story or character elements without the slightest explanation for where they came from or why they were never seen before. Yes, Lady Satan is now receiving letters begging for help. Apparently, she’s a celebrity now. How do people know where to send the letters? Is there an Ask Lady Satan column in the local paper? Why? How? When? Silly reader. Exposition is for bad Christopher Nolan dialogue!
We’re introduced to Nancy Strong, who coincidentally looks a lot like Lady Satan. You might think this is because the artist has a limited range when drawing women (too many in the industry do), but it actually becomes relevant to the plot later on. We also, sadly, learn that one of my favorite comic book supporting characters has fallen on hard times!
Oh my non-existent god! Aunt May is so broke, she had to change her name and take a job cleaning up some scary haunted mansion.
Yup. The mansion is haunted. Nancy claims that she hears weird sounds at night. And, in classic human fashion, when we hear hoof beats we think zebras, not horses. The noises couldn’t be a raccoon or a bird or a rogue jellyfish. Nope, gotta be a ghost. Her father disappeared a while back along with a large sum of money, so that’s probably connected. Because these things always are.
This story has a total of 5 characters in it: The titular (*heh*) Lady Satan, Nancy Strong (the victim), the ghost of a murdered man, and two BUTLERS. I hope I don’t have to provide a spoiler warning before saying Rebecca and her husband are the killers.
And, of course, the tea Rebecca is serving them is roofied (because like any good housekeeper, she keeps date-rape drugs around).
Wait. How did she know the tea had a “queer taste”, unless she actually drank some of it? This reminds me of a sequence in the recent Hawkeye Annual #1 (which I just read today). But that’s another story.*
Nancy becomes sleepy, obviously, and Lady Satan pretends to also be sleepy, naturally. That’s how these things ALWAYS go. I’ll give them a pass since this cliche wasn’t quite so worn out in 1946 as it is today (although it still appeared in quite a few contemporary films noirs).
After Nancy’s announced genuine sleepiness and Lady Satan’s faked sleepiness, we get the following page, which has a number of…issues.
I’ll make a list of all the things that are off here.
- That first panel comes immediately after Nancy announcing she’s sleepy. And yet, she looks fired up.
- We’ve already established that she believes there’s a ghost in the house. No need to repeat ourselves.
- They’re in this huge mansion, and yet they sleep in the same room? Why, other than to titillate the reader with potential lesbian fingerbanging and nipple suckage and clit licking and…okay, I’m getting carried away here. I’ll stop.
- Lady Satan’s pose in the first panel seems to confirm my lesbian fantasies…
- She sleeps in her mask?
- Why put on Nancy’s clothes? And on that note…
- Why, two panels later, are you clearly wearing the same clothes you were already wearing rather than Nancy’s clothes? (This is likely due to lack of communication between writer and artist.)
- Why does a ghost make the floor creak?
- Nobody has untrustworthy parents! He’s her father, so you can totally trust him for realz yo!
- Just what exactly is the housekeepers’ plan here?
- Why would they think it’s Nancy walking in her sleep? Why would them thinking that be a bad thing?
So Nancy follows the ghost into a creepy barn/dungeon thing, and discovers that he was leading her to the location of the hidden money. Lady Satan divines that the ghost wants her to give it to Nancy. Evil Aunt May and her husband follow as well…
Wait, you knew she would? So your plan was to drug Nancy and wait for her to sleepwalk to where the money is? HUH? How the fuck is that supposed to work? What makes you think she would ever do that? Why choose the night that Lady Satan arrived to do it?
Lady Satan, I have just one thing to say to you.
Yup, the old bald guy just punches the fuck out of her, and they chain her up and take the money. And, yes, they still think she’s Nancy, even though she’s wearing her Lady Satan mask (and still in her own clothes, no matter what she says). How fucking dumb are these crooks? At least they finally wise up…
Interestingly, other than her ability to see ghosts when others can’t, this is the first time she’s used her Deus ex machina magic spells in this story. Previously, pretty much every time they needed to move the plot forward she’d pull some kind of spell out of her ass that does exactly what the plot needs at that moment. Props to the writer of this week’s installment (whomever he/she is) for finding other ways to tell the story.
Anyways, so now Lady Satan has sicced the ghost of Abner Strong on them. That will distract Aunt Doom and Bald Bastard Ben for a while. But what about getting out of those chains?
Oh, come on! Just when I’m praising the comic for avoiding the Solution-Was-In-My-Ass-The-Whole-Time plot devices, it pulls out two in a row. Bad! Bad Lady Satan comic!
And wouldn’t that super strength have been useful when you were getting clocked in the face on the previous page?
Whatever. Aunt Evil and Not-Uncle-Ben realize that Phantom Abner can’t actually physically harm them (him being incorporeal and all), just in time to meet up with a now free Lady Satan. She knocks Baldy Magoo aside, and then we get one of the most confusing action sequences I’ve ever seen in a comic book.
Uhhhh….huh? I honestly can’t make out what the fuck is happening here. In the first panel Lady Satan is apparently swinging her chains at Aunt Slay, but judging by the motion lines they go way over her head. Aunt Slay is cowering, but apparently unharmed. In the next panel, she’s flying through the air, perpendicular to a pitchfork. Next, she’s face down on the ground, totally forked in the ass–from the opposite direction than what she was traveling. It makes no sense. And somehow the dialogue manages to make it all even more confusing and non sequitur. I can’t think of any way that what’s happening in one panel could be followed by what’s in the next. We seem to have been transported into some brainfuckingly bizarre universe where cause and effect no longer have any meaning. Where up is down, black is white, good is evil, and Kid Rock is talented.
And the worst part is, this is all we get. There are only two panels left in the comic…
There are a lot of things that come to mind when I look at that last panel, such as… Why are those books facing the wrong way, with their spines to the wall? No, just kidding. It actually makes me think about fisting.
How did Abner get his revenge? Was he the one who forked Aunt Slay in the ass? When? What was going on between those wonky panels? I guess he might have done it, since the black and yellow color scheme seems to be his leitmotif. But we’d already established that he can’t affect corporeal things. If he could impale someone with a pitchfork, why not just grab the money and give it to Nancy himself, instead of getting Lady Satan to do it? She said Aunt Slay could “feel but not see” the ghost–is this what she meant? But she saw the ghost, and felt the fucking pitchfork? And how is his revenge complete when Not-Uncle Ben is still alive and kicking? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON???
As a final kicker–Nancy seems to have overcome her grief pretty fucking quickly!
Anyways, I didn’t like this story as much as the last one, and that mainly has to do with the fact that the artist clearly struggled with how to portray action on a static page, and the writer clearly struggled with condensing his story into the small number of pages required for an anthology comic, as was common in the golden age. With their incompetence powers combined, this story seems to leap from one image to the next, often with little rhyme or reason or coherent flow. It’s still not bad, though. It has all the cheesiness and absurdity that’s typical of a Golden Age superhero story. And it’s in the public domain and available for free at The Digital Comics Museum. If you like that kind of stuff, check it out! If not, then fuck off!!!
* Okay, let me get this straight. Madame Mask pulls the older-than-dirt cliche of a drug in her ring being dumped in Kate Bishop’s drink. Kate does a “fake sip” (how exactly does that work?) then pulls the slightly-less-older-than-dirt cliche of pouring the drink out in a plant, because no one will notice when the drink instantly goes from full to empty (writers, please stop doing this). The drug IMMEDIATELY WILTS THE PLANT. Then Kate Bishop fakes being…sleepy? And Madame Mask goes along as if this were exactly what she expected. In fact, we know it’s what she expected because she wanted to keep Envaginated Hawkeye alive to torture her later. So the drug she intended to put her to sleep with is so powerful it kills plants on contact. What the fuck???
Oh, and “unknown unknown” is NOT a tautology.