Characters Appearing: Anton Devine, Detective Gunyon, Gabriel the Devil Hunter, Gargoyle (Defender), Hellstorm, Jaine Cutter, Satan, Satana, Stephen Loss
Issue(s): Hellstorm #20, Hellstorm #21
Issue #20 does not have Hellstorm in it at all. Instead, we finally get some attention paid to Satana, who has been teased as a part of this series since the cover of issue #1 (Ellis said in last issue's lettercol that Satana will be included "for the perverts"). And the issue also has a confrontation between Jaine Cutter and Gabriel the Devil Hunter.
As for Satana, the first thing we learn is that while Satana is a succubus, succubi were only created by Satan in the seventeenth century after Puritans first made up the idea. Satana is therefore a succubus as a joke, but Satana herself is "rarely sane enough" to know that. And in this issue we're introduced to her while she's surrounded by the corpses of men whose souls she's devoured. She's realized that souls are the currency in Hell, and so she's determined to eat more souls to increase her personal power. To that end, she recruits Detective Gunyon, the police officer that Hellstorm messed with in Hellstorm #12. He comes after her because he's looking for him.
But she puts him under her control and gives him bullets which will transfer souls to her, and directs him to go out to commit mass murder.
While every other ongoing plot gets wrapped up in these issues, this is left hanging. This is the last we'll see of Detective Gunyon, and Satana won't appear again until Witches, a decade later.
As for Jaine, she returns to her old apartment to pick up a few things. But Gabriel the Devil Hunter is waiting for her there (as we've seen in this series, Gabriel has been recruited by drug-dealing angels).
Gabriel steals Jaine's Breathing Gun and leaves. The last we see of Jaine in issue 20, she's seemingly trapped in her apartment.
We also check in with a woman named LaVoisin, who we heard about in Hellstorm #16 (she told Daimon her father's true name). We get a small gothic horror style story about her family history, and then we learn that she's pregnant with a boy.
When Daimon learns about this, he realizes that the boy will be Satan reborn.
Martin Chaplin's Stephen Loss chapter is tacked on at the end. It's four pages and really more of a diary than a story.
Of interest is a little history of Jaine's Breathing Gun.
The issue feels pretty disjointed, but it's nothing compared to issue #21. First of all, we start with Jaine back at Hellstrom's home, with no discussion of how she escaped.
And when Gabriel shows up at the house with the Breathing Gun, it seems like a surprise.
When Gabriel enters the house, though, he passes out. It turns out that the angel drugs that are in Gabriel's system can't pass through Daimon's threshold. So he's now free of their influence. But we jump immediately from that to the next Stephen Loss chapter, complete with a "continued after..." line.
However, the Loss chapter is actually a direct continuation, because after a couple more diary pages...
...Hellstorm shows up and kills Loss...
...and then we see him returning directly to the Leonardo Manco art on the next page.
And at this point we are in pure wrap-up mode. Hellstorm asks Gargoyle to take care of Gabriel the way he used to take care of Hellcat.
And then he goes out and wraps up the angel drug dealer plotline in a couple of quick splash pages.
This is also when we learn that Satan is coming back via LaVoisin, and that Gunyon "may never be caught or stopped".
So everything is quickly tied up, one way or another. And Ellis still manages to write a nice little goodbye.
The issue is definitely disorienting and the plots are wrapped up in an obviously rushed way, but Ellis still manages some nice character moments and it's good that the storylines get some kind of conclusion.
It's said in the lettercol that the series was getting critical acclaim but it was too late to help sales. So while Hellstorm may no longer be tenable, Marvel was willing to try again with the same creative team and same general tone. And so Druid will be coming in 1995. Ellis's writing ability was also recognized enough that he begins writing Excalibur at this time as well.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP begin tagging the Breathing Gun this issue. The Breathing Gun has been Jaine Cutter's weapon for as long as she's appeared in this series. Maybe the idea is that for the first time it's in the hands of someone else (Gabriel). The remainder of the Breathing Gun's appearances will be in 2009's Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire series; i guess i can wait until then to determine if it needs to be tagged as a character.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Ellis did propose a Satana miniseries, but Marvel passed on it and Ellis took it to Avatar, where it became the first "Strange Kiss" mini.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 30, 2018 8:09 PM
"succubi were only created by Satan in the seventeenth century after Puritans first made up the idea"- Contrary to what Ellis thinks, succubi were not invented by Puritans in the 17th century- the basic myth is common to several religions and predates the Puritans by centuries.
Posted by: Michael | January 30, 2018 8:24 PM
So Hellstorm ran off with DC's Death at the end?
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | January 30, 2018 9:58 PM
I vaguely remember there being a Satana series for the short lived Strange Tales imprint in 1998. It's possible it never saw release...
And is Druid any good?
Posted by: Bigvis497 | January 30, 2018 11:38 PM
Great, now I feel guilty about my ruinsaw's carbon footprint.
Posted by: Mortificator | January 31, 2018 6:23 PM
Druid is rather forgettable by Ellis' usual standards. I won't spoil it, but if you read it all in one setting, it brings to mind a dog running in a circle.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 31, 2018 7:38 PM
"I vaguely remember there being a Satana series for the short lived Strange Tales imprint in 1998. It's possible it never saw release..."
"(...) and takes on Satana, daughter of the devil, in a never-before-published story!"
Posted by: Kaulso | April 15, 2018 1:38 PM
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