Comic Book Origins: El Diablo

Script written by Craig Butler He may be a bit of a devil, but he’s fighting on the side of the angels. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origin of El Diablo. As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginations and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1970’s All-Star Western #2 and which was expanded upon in 1989’s Secret Origins #2, 2006’s Jonah Hex #11 and 2008’s El Diablo #1. Special thanks to our users Die4Games, Tyson Turner, Jesús M. Soto González, Aaron Osborne, and jhwoe6 for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler

Superhero Origins: El Diablo


He may be a bit of a devil, but he’s still fighting for the good guys as a guardian angel. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of El Diablo.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1970’s All-Star Western #2 which was expanded upon in 1989’s Secret Origins #2, 2006’s Jonah Hex #11, and 2008’s El Diablo #1.

El Diablo is the name given to several characters that have popped up in the DC Universe throughout the years. Some have had no superpowers, others have possessed magic-based abilities – and all of them are hell to deal with.

El Diablo – “the devil” – first appeared without an origin story published in 1970. The story begins in the Old West, during a stagecoach robbery when a mysterious cloaked and masked figure appeared, ready to fight the bandits. His reputation preceding him, the mighty El Diablo scared away the highwaymen.

Inside the coach, a pregnant woman was about to give birth. Another passenger was a doctor, but he refused to help. His own wife and baby had died when he tried to deliver the baby, thus leaving the doctor afraid of the procedure. It was another passenger, a prostitute, who rose to the occasion when El Diablo gave her courage. After a successful birth, El Diablo brought the new mother and her baby safely into town – and promptly disappeared.

This mysterious Old West version of the character was replaced with a more modern version in 1989. A young boy named Rafael Sandoval used to listen to his father folk tales in which villains were given their due, not by an avenging angel but by the devil. Soon afterward, Sandoval’s father was killed in a construction accident caused by unsafe working conditions - and the wealthy owner of the company escaped any punishment.

Rafael was taken under the wing of a priest who taught him boxing. He grew up and, eventually going to college and becoming a lawyer. When he returned home he was elected to the City Council. Unfortunately, the political machine worked against him and prevent him from making a real difference. After being unable to deal with a string of mysterious fires as a city councilor, Rafael donned a costume and called himself El Diablo. He caught the arsonists – and started a career as a costumed vigilante helping those most in need.

The original El Diablo hadn’t disappeared for good, however. A 2006 Jonah Hex story went back and shed some light on the Old West version of the character. It turns out he was actually a man named Lazarus Lane, a bank teller who was struck by lightning and then raised from the dead by an Indian Shaman. He was then possessed with a demon with a distinct mission, when Lane fell asleep, El Diablo roamed the land, exacting justice.

Jumping ahead to present day, Lazarus Lane showed up in a hospital in modern day Los Angeles. A gangster by the name of Chato Santana had recently been paralyzed in a police bust. He was placed in a room with Lane, who had fallen into a coma. Afraid that Chato would turn them in, his old gang buddies arrived to kill him. As he fought against death, Chato found himself in the spirit world, where he met El Diablo. In order to cheat death, he agreed to take Lazarus Lane’s place – and thus a new avenging angel with demonic powers was born.

Interestingly, both the Lazarus Lane and the Chato Santana versions of El Diablo have made appearances in the New 52, DC’s revamp of its universe. The Old West version is around, still righting wrongs while Chato has been seen as a member of the more recent incarnations of the Suicide Squad.

The various versions of El Diablo could hardly be more different in origin – yet they all have a common a thirst for justice and vengeance. Whether set in the days of the Old West or in a more contemporary time, the character has an undeniable appeal.

Are you a fan of El Diablo – in any of his forms? For more comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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