Comic Relief: Double De-Satanized!

Welcome to Comic Relief #9. To see the previous installments of Comic Relief, check out the Comic Relief Index.

Remember back when Lady Satan’s third appearance in Red Seal Comics #17 was reprinted, but with her name changed and other major alterations to the story? Well, it happened again to her following appearance! This time, it occurred in Authentic Police Cases #5 in 1948, which shows just how much of a fuck publishers gave about comic titles back then, seeing as this story contains no police and the presence of a ghost makes its authenticity dubious at best.

In my previous post I speculated that her name was changed from Lady Satan due to prudishness about having a hero named Satan, but in this case there appears to be a more pragmatic motivation. Lady Satan’s original non-magical-ass Nazi-Fighter appearance was reprinted in Authentic Police Cases #2 (again, why did this comic have that title?). Having Lady Satan appear as a normal human fighting Nazis and then, 3 issues later, as a sorceress fighting a ghost would be just a teensy bit disorienting, so that’s the most likely cause of the change.

So, let’s see what they changed.

Oh god. All the color ran out of her dress onto the floor!

Oh god. All the color ran out of her dress onto the floor!

That caption clearly establishes this story as “authentic”. Obviously. When I read a badly written single sentence that tells me that this story is utterly dubious, I know this must be an authentic police case. And the fact that “Marco’s Villa” sounds more like a flower shop than a Gothic European estate doesn’t make me suspicious at all.

There’s also one very subtle little change that you probably haven’t noticed yet. Take a look at the original then come back to this one. See it?

There’s a signature on this one.  Down on the bottom right where that skeleton’s ball sack used to be. Specifically, the signature of Ralph Mayo. Who the hell is Ralph Mayo? I don’t have the foggiest. All I could find on him was that he created a villain called Big Eye for DC. Who is Big Eye?

Eye want you for the US Army! ...And to have nightmares for the next month.

Eye want you for the US Army! …And to have nightmares for the next month.

We have learned something important here. Ralph Mayo has a better (if more literal) understanding of how names work than the publishers of Authentic Police Cases.

(And seriously, they couldn’t bother to fix her legs?)

See that! The word "police"! The title is accurate! (Actually, it is pretty authentic to portray the police as mostly useless and absent. Maybe the Viscount was black.)

See that! The word “police”! The title is accurate! (Actually, it is pretty authentic to portray the police as mostly useless and absent. Maybe the Viscount was black.)

So she’s Marietta now. And apparently she and Nancy are friends. And the printer ran out of every color of ink except red.

Having them be friends is actually a good change, as it corrects an aspect of the original story that was so nonsensical that I strongly suspect it was the love child of creationism and Un Chien Andalou. How the fuck did Nancy know where to send the letter to Lady Satan? Why is Lady Satan taking requests via mail?

In this version, that’s not a problem.

The rest of the story proceeds almost exactly like the original, except with the name Marietta instead of Lady Satan, and with her dress in green rather than red, and EVERYTHING ELSE in red red red red red. Seriously, the comic Red isn’t this red. Grendel: Black, White and Red isn’t this red. If there were a comic called Everything is Fucking Red, it wouldn’t be this red. The colorist must have been in a serious hurry to meet a deadline.

However, he did get one thing right. After Lady Sa– errr, Marietta says she’ll slip into Nancy’s clothes, she is clearly seen to be wearing Nancy’s blue dress instead of her own green dress. So that’s two points where this version improves on the original.

But coloring aside, the comic is pretty much identical to the original, with even the exact same dialogue in almost every panel. The few exceptions are when they change dialogue in order to make the story make more sense. Observe:

My auto suggestion would be to drive a Honda. Good gas mileage.

My auto suggestion would be to drive a Honda. Good gas mileage.

There. Isn’t it so much simpler to say that the chains were old and corroded, rather than to have her display super strength immediately after showing her getting knocked the fuck out by an old man?

And then there’s this:

And you can't have a trial without an arrest. And you can't have an arrest without...police!

And you can’t have a trial without an arrest. And you can’t have an arrest without…police!

See? It’s easy. You don’t just leave the husband’s fate completely unresolved, like in the original. A single line of dialogue corrects the problem.

All in all, the de-satanized version is actually slightly better than the original, in that it at least corrects a few of its flaws.

But we’re not done! Believe it or not, the Red Seal 18 story was de-satanized AGAIN in 1952, this time in Strange Terrors #1. (To read up more on this, check here and here.) Yes, this same story was re-written and published again twice. Anything to just keep churning out those fucking comics, amiright?

And has any character ever been reworked into a new character with a new name this many times? Poor Lady Satan…

WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO MEEEE????

WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO MEEEE????

What’s even weirder is that they seem to be copying from the Authentic Police Cases version, not the Red Seal version, as indicated by the fact that this is again set in post-war Europe, whereas the original didn’t give a location.

And dig that stilted opening sentence. What the hell does it even mean? (And they still haven’t fixed her fucking legs. They even forgot to color in her shoe straps, so now her already gimpy-looking foot looks like it’s really veiny.)

They also still have Mayo’s name on it. I don’t know if he really drew it, or just put his name on it to claim it as his, seeing as the original had no credits at all, as was common in the Golden Age when creators were treated like property. Either the original publisher removed the signature, or Mayo put his name on artwork that wasn’t his. Either way, there’s probably something nefarious going on here. Another possibility, though, is that he drew it, didn’t originally sign it, then signed it later when it was re-printed.

Unlike our previous de-satanization, this one drastically alters the source material. Every line of dialogue is changed. But again, most of the changes are an improvement. But not all…

Yeah, 'cause I'm sure Berlin immediately after the war was a great place to be...

Yeah, ’cause I’m sure Berlin immediately after the war was a great place to be…

That last panel is a zoom-in of the original, removing the spooky house from the image. I guess this is because it was more of a mansion than a castle, and Castle Karloff (an obvious reference to the actor) is a better name than Marco’s Villa. But the effect is to reduce the horror aesthetic of the overall comic, so they sacrificed a bit there.

Anyways, so now rather than Lady Satan, and rather than Marietta, she’s Celeste. To be precise, Celeste Karloff (the name just rolls off the tongue), as we now see the victim’s name is Olga and she and Celeste are sisters. Lady Satan and Nancy started as strangers, then became friends, and now they’re sisters. If this comic had been de-satanized one more time, they would have been Siamese twins.

That first panel also seals the deal for me–this was copied from Authentic Police, not Red Seal, seeing as it the original didn’t actually show the letter or mention any military police. The comics publishers were playing hot potato with the original artwork for this story.

There’s no need to go over the rest of the story in detail, since it’s the same story, but with completely new dialogue that in most cases makes the story less fucking nonsensical. For instance, in the new version they explain that Celeste spat out the poison drink she tasted. The ghost doesn’t make creaking footsteps. She doesn’t put on Nancy’s/Olga’s clothes and she’s not mistaken for Nancy/Olga by the housekeepers.

The de-satanization of Red Seal 17 was a hacky shitstain on the world of comics, but these two of Red Seal 18 are actually a slight improvement on a story that had serious issues (get it?). It still sucks that they couldn’t call her “Lady Satan” though. So fuck these comics anyway!

The comics are, of course, available for free at the Digital Comic Museum. Check ’em out! And see you next time.

Comic Relief: De-Satanized!

Welcome to part 4 of Comic Relief. To see the full series, go to the Comic Relief Index.

I mentioned in the previous installment of Comic Relief that the third appearance of Lady Satan (in Red Seal Comics #17 in 1945) was reprinted in Weird Horrors #1 in 1952. But I must admit, at the time I had only casually glanced at Weird Horrors #1, and had not read it. But now, having read it, I realize that it wasn’t merely reprinted, but actually drastically reworked into a very different story, with completely new dialogue and whole panels removed or added. So the question becomes, is it an improvement? Another way to phrase this might be, would you ever expect the kind of hack writer who takes a seven year old story and pastes his own new dialogue over it to improve anything?

Let’s take a look and find out!

It's deja vu all over again!

It’s deja vu all over again!

Well, it’s mostly like the original. They removed Lady Satan’s domino mask, and changed Underbite’s hair to white and pants to brown, but other than that it’s the same image…except….

Wait! “The Werewolves Howl”? It’s called Lady Fucking Satan, not The Werewolves Howl! What the fuck?

If someone is a nurse, then they can't be ignorant. That's a...strange epistemology.

If someone is a nurse, then they can’t be ignorant. That’s a…strange epistemology.

“Josephine LeBlanc”? That’s bullshit! Her name is motherfucking Lady Satan.

And she lives in New Orleans now? If that were the case, then the animal in question wouldn’t be called a “werewolf”. It’d be called a Loup-garou or Rougarou. Get your Cajun lycanthropy facts right! Just talk to someone from New Orleans. It’s not that hard.

Anyways, like the original story, this one begins with Lady Sa—-errrm, Josephine LeBlanc driving through the middle of nowhere and stumbling upon some lost children. The dialogue is changed to offer additional (and unnecessary) exposition, but it’s pretty similar to what we got in the original story, with one glaring exception. The children automatically know who “Nurse LeBlanc” is. In fact, everyone in this story seems to know who she is. Do nurses ever gain that level of celebrity and/or notoriety?

Are you gonna do this "ye" and "shall" thing through the whole comic? Yes? Fuck.

Are you gonna do this “ye” and “shall” thing through the whole comic? Yes? Fuck.

This is something you come across often if you read Golden Age comics: Captions that explain what you’re looking at in the panel. It’s annoying, but it’s something you get used to. The practice continued into the Silver Age, and even some modern day writers of the hackier persuasion do it.

But, please, comic book writers, don’t do this. Let your artist’s images speak for themselves. If you feel like you must offer additional explanation, then either A) the art sucks and lacks clarity, or B) you’re just pasting unnecessary verbiage on the page.

Also, I can’t help but notice those trees in the background. This is supposed to be New Orleans, right? Well, I lived in New Orleans for a while, and most of the trees have Spanish moss growing on them, so I can’t help but notice its absence in the background. This story is set in New Orleans in name only, isn’t it? Yes, indeed, as later there’s a scene set in the “bayou”, and yet not a single Cypress knee is visible. This is what happens when you take a story set in a generic setting and shoehorn it into a specific setting.

Anyways, the story proceeds mostly like the original, except that Josephine LeBlanc lacks the magical powers that Lady Satan suddenly obtained in the original, meaning that everything that happens is more boring. For instance, in the original Lady Satan repels the werewolves with Xanda Power. I have no idea what Xanda Power is, but it sounds cool. In this one?

I hope you also brought your Shark Repellant Bat-Spray.

I hope you also brought your Shark Repellent Bat-Spray.

*Yawn.* It would’ve been more interesting if she had actually gotten rabies.

And of course the Creepiest Panel Ever makes a reappearance, but with more dialogue than in the original.

Aaaaugh! Not again!

Aaaaugh! Not again!

How the fuck does everyone just know who Nurse LeBlanc is? And why would a nurse be dressed with a red cape?

And why does the author of this piece of shit think you can improve a story simply by throwing in more dialogue? In almost every panel of the reprint, the gross amount of dialogue has been increased. This is not how good writing works.

Anyways, so Not-Titty Satan follows the car again, it goes over the bridge again, and she has to rescue the children again, and she tracks him back to his lair again. Only with no magic involved. Boring.

But wait, you ask. In the original, Lady Satan vanquished Master Werewolf with magical finger fire. How will non-powered Josephine LeBlanc accomplish this? Well, see for yourself…

The comic repeated refers to him kidnapping 3 children, but they only ever show 2. I guess math is just yet another thing this comic utterly fails at.

The comic repeatedly refers to him kidnapping 3 children, but they only ever show 2. I guess math is just yet another thing this comic utterly fails at.

Um, what? Is it ether, or Vapor of the Vampires? Is it both? Why does it kill him? Why does it come in that weird looking flask? And why does it completely annihilate his corpse? Why is the complete lack of evidence a running theme in this story? Why does he think she drowned, when earlier on an inserted panel showed him clearly see her with her head above water? How does she know that werewolves are allergic to ether? Is this just common knowledge among nurses in New Orleans? How does she know to go to the old plantation? Why the fuck was it so important to set all this shit in New Orleans?

Ugh. I’m wasting my time asking all these questions. The ultimate answer to all of it is, “Because they took a Lady Satan comic and sucked all the life out of it.” The original was campy good fun, the remake was just plain dull. Kinda like the relationship between the original Total Recall and its shitty remake. And I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t change her name because in 1952 they were afraid to call a hero “Satan”.

Fuck you, 1952.