Five Interesting Interpertations Of The Devil In Comics

This is a follow up to the piece I wrote about God in comics. The Devil, when viewed against the myths we have all been taught about God, is clearly not the bad guy. He has killed far less people. Has caused far less cataclysmic events . And generally, just doesn’t seem as judgmental or violent as God himself. But, because we have been TOLD to fear him and doubt him, we fear and doubt him. But let me throw something crazy out there. What if Lucifer was actually God, and God was actually the Devil? What if the way we were tricked, we have been worshiping the “wrong” idol all this time?

And ultimately, through that false worship, giving him power the whole time? Crazy to think about, right? Well, they say the Devil is the ultimate trickster, so that WOULD be the ultimate trick. Just so you know, that has nothing to do with nothing, I just wanted to put that theory into print before I die. So here, for your reading pleasure, five wonderfully varied versions of the Devil in comic books. Still, though. None of them are as cool as Tim Curry from Legend. Just saying what we are all thinking.

Señor Diablo from Johnny The Homicidal Maniac

His wife simply knows his as Juan, and yes, they have some issues to work out. But who doesn’t?

If you have not read the epic Jhonen Vasquez comic book, Johnny The Homicidal Maniac, what is wrong with you? It manages to be both lighthearted, and dark, all at once. And nowhere is this humor and varied style more representative than in this world’s version of God and Satan. In the last article, I spoke about the fat, lazy God from the comic (who sits in an Laz-E-God recliner at all times) and now it is time to talk about the well-spoken other side of that coin, Senor Diablo.

Unlike most versions of the Devil, this Devil does not seem all-the-way dastardly. He is written with a sort of sarcastic sense of humor that makes him stand out from all the “super-creepy” devils and demons we are used to from the medium.  I also feel the need to say that the art style of Senor Diablo is pretty badass. Jhonen skipped most of the traits which can make devils cliche in fiction, and went with something different. He kept the horns, though, because horns are awesome. Just wait until the Aja/Radcliffe movie, Horns comes out next year. Just trust me. Anyway, Juan, as he is known by his Christian wife, is really just misunderstood.

Malebolgia from Spawn

I almost used a photo of Andy Dick  here because they are one and the same, really.

Please, I beg you guys, erase the image you have of Malebolgia from the terrible Spawn movie, and just go with the comic book version. Which is, unlike the movie, quite creepy and not some big, shoddy, CG-Hell-muppet with a heavy-metal haircut. No, seriously, look at this thing:

If that is really what the Devil looks like, I am SO gonna stop worshiping him any day now.

If you erase the movie from your mind and stick with the character from the comic book line, you have a genuinely creepy version of the red guy we are normally so used to in mainstream fiction.  What’s interesting about this character is that this name for him, Malebolgia, was only used one other time. Do you guys know where?

Alright, you give up, that is what they call the devil in the 8th layer of Hell from Dante’s Inferno. It was a nice reference for readers like me, who were weened on literary versions of the fallen angel before becoming acclimated with the comic book versions. And while Spawn would eventually get a bit too overblown, with far too many characters to even keep track of (like, the fucking cyber-gorilla) Malebolgia reminded people of how raw and brutal the Spawn comics were when they first appeared. Oh and just so you know, Malebolgia was not really the Devil in the Spawn comics. It was actually, um, Satan, who appeared first in issue 158 of Spawn.

Hahaha, you can’t leave that as a comment now to correct me, because I already know! Still, we all thought he was the Devil in Spawn, and he acted like the Devil, so if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be the Devil.

Mephisto from The Marvel Universe

Why doesn’t the Devil ever have a throne made out of meat? That would be awesome!

Alright, I would imagine most of you are somewhat familiar with Mephisto, from the Marvel titles. He tends to frequent Ghost Rider and Spiderman comics in recent years, though he made his debut in a Silver Surfer comic, and used to love messing with Thor, which few seem to even realize. This version of the Devil was more based on Mephistopheles from the Faust legend, than any religious deity, and his resourcefulness (aka ability to mess with any good guys from the Marvel U) made him a great character to read. But I am avoiding the elephant in the room, and I will stop now.

The One More Day story line in Spiderman REALLY pissed off a lot of long-time readers of the comic. The idea that Peter Parker would sell his soul to save his Aunt, and ultimately lose his marriage and rewrite his history in the process felt a might bit too extreme for most (me being one of them). I mean, you would end your marriage, which could last 50 years, to save an old lady, who has lived her whole life already and could die any die now, anyway? And you do this out of GUILT? Yeah, that was dumb, but dumb is okay in comics sometimes. Oh, and you guys know who Peter sold his soul to in that storyline, right? I will give you a hint, his name rhymes with Metisto.

  • malebolge wasn’t the name for the devil in Dante’s Inferno, it was the name of the 8th layer its self. The name translates to something along the lines of Evil Ditches, and the layer of hell was composed of a series of ditches with various sinners being punished in it.

    The devil himself was in the middle of the ninth layer.

  • trashcanman

    Excellent article. You made me feel like a dick for having not read “Johnny The Homicidal Maniac”, but made up for it by opening your article by suggesting God is a bigger asshole than Satan. I mean, really. Satan trolls a few people here and there in The Bible but God seems to have an actual hard on for killing children. He sends the angel of death to kill Egypt’s firstborn to get at Pharaoh after he himself “hardened his heart” against taking Moses’ advice? Really, God? Or how about when he sent motherfucking bears to tear apart 42 children because some of them pointed out that a dude was bald? That happened. And Satan is the bad guy for pointing out to Eve that God was being kind of dickish about that apple tree? ‘Kay.

  • @Adam, Great call. I am sad I made that mistake, but I tend to leave them in the articles because they humble me a bit.
    @Trashcanman, I am SO glad someone jumped on that. Been driving me mad for awhile.

  • Korky

    Better change “Gaimen” to “Gaiman” before you get lynched.

  • Toraaki

    You didn’t put another devil in here: Lucifer from Hellblazer.

  • Shadowtag

    Honestly, you should just have someone come in and edit this thing. Typos everywhere.

    One interpretation I liked was Lucifer in the Dawn comics. Linsner all but outright says he and God were banging, but the kicker is that Lucifer, in the throes of emo goth nonsense, manages to continually misquote Shakespeare.

    Plus there’s y’know, nearly naked women everywhere.

    • Believe it or not, my WordPress is all messed up, which accounts for the errors.
      By “WordPress is messed up” I mean I am drunk on nog.
      Or it is nogg?
      Not even sure and too drunk to check.
      And by drunk, I mean depressed.