Haunt of Horror #2,4 (Satana)
Issue(s): Haunt of Horror #2, Haunt of Horror #4 (Satana story only)
The gist is that Satana sleeps with an ex-military guy, Robert Corbett...
...to get him to assassinate Miles Gorney, one of the four people that she suspects is behind the barrier that is preventing her from communicating with her father in Hell, but then she finds out at the last minute that the four actually want one of them to get killed because they need a martyr for a ritual. When she's too late to stop the assassination, she angrily kills the guy she recruited to perform it.
Images above are from illustrations by Pablo Marcos accompanying the prose.
The comic part starts with her heading into a dank tunnel that leads to a back way into Hell that she thinks won't be covered by the barrier. She meets up with Zannarth, an incubus that she has some history with...
...and she quickly defeats him in "battle", making him an ally.
Then they are attacked by some more demons.
Meanwhile, more powerful demons called the Four (the masters of the four humans from the text piece)...
...bicker amongst themselves.
It's revealed in issue #4 that Satana didn't always have to drain people's souls for sustenance. It only began after the barrier was constructed by the Four. "They drove us from our homeland -- you [Zannarth] to the Netherworld and I to Earth. They did more than separate me from my father in that hour. I found my succubus power had become a curse. No longer was it a weapon... it was now my only means of sustenance."
One of the Four, Trachos, the cow, is found dead, presumably after the bickering amongst the Four above. The remaining Three then attack Satana and Zannarth directly.
Zannarth is killed, but Satana's attack turns the other into the mortals from the text piece. It turns out they weren't really demons. Then Trachos, supposedly dead, returns, and transforms into Miles Gorney, who says he was behind the whole thing from the start; he says that he covets her father's domain. He refuses to give away any more about his plan and then leaves. Satana discovers that the barrier preventing her access to Hell is gone when Miles leaves, but she opts not to go there.
Another text piece, by Chris Claremont with illustrations by "Pat Brokerick & the Crusty Bunkers", immediately says that the barrier is back up again, and Satana is knocked out attempting to call her father. She's then attacked by a group of men and left for dead. But Satana now has an intelligent pet cat creature called Exiter (first mentioned in the previous text piece, but now seen able to change its size and take on a demonic appearance), and it forces Michael Heron, a former priest, to take Satana home and nurse her back to health. She attempts to repay him by luring him in to suck his soul, but he's able to resist. So she sucks the soul of his building's night porter instead. Then a priest named Jimmy Cruz attacks with a group of green berets.
Cruz made an alliance with the N'Garai, the "Dark Ones" and "Elder Gods", giving him the power to kill Exiter.
But Satana is able to kill him because his relationship with the N'Garai made him lose God's protection, and he's unable to use a crucifix to repel her.
There's also a sequence where Satana stares into Cruz' eyes and is then able to command him because she seems to have put a "basilisk in his soul". The Basilisk will turn out to be an actual character of sorts.
In Claremont's story Satana finds she is becoming more human. She spares the life of a homeless woman because her fear reminds her of when she was left for dead by the earlier attack. And she finds that her powers are weakening. Heron says it's because her half-human side is getting stronger.
A response in the lettercol for issue #5 acknowledges that Satana's adventures have been confusing, especially reversals regarding the Four. It will turn out that Miles Gorney is in fact Satan, testing his daughter in the aftermath of the resurgence of resistance from Daimon Hellstrom. Even that is unsatisfactory. It's said in the same response that Satana has lived in Hell with her father since she was six years old (per the flashback in Marvel Spotlight #13) and we know from this story that she only left Hell because the Four got her banished. But since the Four was really part of a ruse by Satan, he went through a lot of trouble to test his daughter for seemingly no good reason and his actions, banishing her to Earth and putting her in touch with her human side, are actually causing her to lose the connection with him that he was testing.
Add to that short stories where little happens combined with text pieces that no one wants from a comic book and these stories are a confusing slog. Claremont does a little more with fleshing out the character, and Romero's art is unique and nice to look at, but there's not a lot here.
I believe this is the first reference to the N'Garai, although there may have been other stuff in the black & white magazines that i'm not aware of.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #3 doesn't contain a Satana story. Issue #4 picks up with Satana and Zannarth still underground.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Marvel Horror vol. 1
This the first N'Garai reference. The disjointedness in the series is due to constant writer and artist replacements--for example, the text piece is there because Gerry Conway's original script got lost on the way to Romero, and Marvel didn't find out about that until way too late.
Enrique Romero was a famous British comic strip artist, known for "Axa" and an exercise strip(because it was full of hot looking women in bikinis working out). This is his only Marvel work; he reportedly didn't like the work-for-hire situation. Axa eventually got reprinted here in the 1980s, but he never did becaome as popular as, say, Esteban Maroto.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 13, 2013 6:00 PM
I wonder if the name N'Garai derives from the Negari from the Solmon Kane tale The Moon of Skulls.
Posted by: PB210 | December 31, 2014 7:18 PM
I'd suspect Claremont had it partially in mind.
However, their human worshippers on the Earth were called the Camarilla, a Spanish/ Basque term.
When I did a bit of digging I discovered Garai means "conquerors" in Basque.
And given their appearance in Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu also by Claremont showed them as historical conquerors of Earth...
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 31, 2014 10:22 PM
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