Alright, so here I am, having spent the last few weeks covering Suicide Squad characters, most of them from that new movie, and I am sure some folks will look at the title of this article and think “Hey, you pulling one from the first movie now?’
Eh, not quite. See, there’s been more than one El Diablo at DC Comics, and the first one was one Lazarus Lane.
Lazarus Lane, first appearing in the 2nd volume of All-Star Western back in November of 1970, was a bank teller in the Old West. One day, bank robbers rode in and attacked the bank, as they tend to do, and Lazarus was struck with a bit of shame he didn’t do anything after the crooks gunned down a friend and co-worker of his. He then did the stupid thing and rode off to get the bad guys himself. Heavily outnumbered, the bad guys decided to just toss him into a stream. Sometime after that, Lazarus was struck by lightning and lapsed into a coma.
It just so happened Lazarus had a friend in the form of Wise Owl, an Apache with some mystical powers of some kind. Wise Owl did some sort of ceremony, and three days later, Lazarus rose from the dead. He decided to become a terror for the night, taking on the name El Diablo. Now a master of combat with a preference for the bullwhip and the bolas, Lazarus could very easily go bring in the bad guys.
Or, well, there was a bit more to it than that. See, it turns out Lazarus was just a host for a minor demon that acted as some kind of Spirit of Vengeance. Heck, he wasn’t even really awake. “El Diablo” could only emerge when Lazarus was unconscious. When he was sleeping or in his coma, El Diablo would emerge. Some stories even went so far as to suggest Wise Owl was maybe not the benevolent fellow he seemed to be.
Oh, and yes, before the New 52, he was said to be an ancestor to Lois Lane and her family.
So, I did say there were other El Diablos. What was up with them? Well, the second was a city councilman in Dos Rios, Texas named Rafael Sandoval. He didn’t have any special powers, but he did don a costume like the original to fight crime.
As for the third, that was Chato Santana, who was either a gang member or a reformed criminal who came across the comatose Lazarus Lane and somehow gained the unconscious man’s powers. Only these were more curse than blessing, and Santana gained some fire-based powers before joining the Suicide Squad. But I may have to cover him later.
In the meantime, there was a guy in the Old West acting like some sort of a bullwhip-welding Ghost Rider…
Sweet Home “Episode Four”
Comic Review: Undiscovered Country Volume 4
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #61 (June, 1968)