Pullbox Reviews: Madam Satan Ponders Life as the Queen of a Less-Than-Thrilling Hell

Story By: Eliot Rahal

Art By: Julius Ohta

Coloring By: Matt Herms

Lettering By: Jack Morelli

Covers By: Julius Ohta and Robert Hack

Publisher: Archie Comics

Available: October 21, with a cover price of $3.99

Have you ever gotten everything you wanted—climbed every mountain, bested every challenge—cripes, murdered your freaking Lord of Hell husband and trapped him for all eternity, only to find you might—just might—have peaked in high school?

There’s a new Satan in town. Out with the old, in with the new. Long live Satan.

Iola, first of her name, Madam Satan, usurper of Lucifer the Morning Star, Lord of Hell and newly-anointed Queen Mother of the Realm of Hell, is in the doldrums. She’s achieved everything she thought she wanted—she’s more powerful than she’s ever been. Heck, she’s the Matriarch of all Hell…but truth is, the job isn’t quite what she expected it to be. Fact is, it kinda sucks.

I mean, there’s the bureaucracy, the unending squabbles of territorial, selfish little underlings who are just never satisfied. Meetings and disputes, and meetings about the disputes. And disputes about them.

Then there’s the constant game-playing, sycophants and usurpers, everyone wanting a piece.

And then there’s…well, the loneliness.

I guess that’s what you get when you sacrifice your eternal mate to move up the corporate ladder.

It just…it’s just not like it was back at…

Well, wouldn’t you like to know?

And that’s where we’ll leave you, gentle reader, to figger them things out fer yourself!

Out this week, just in time for Halloween and all it’s darksome delights, is the Madam Satan one-shot from the Archie Horror line of Archie Comics. Straight out of the storyline of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, (available for streaming on Netflix, though the show’s apparently over after season 4, sniff, sniff), Madam Satan examines the ramifications of Lucifer the Morning Star’s dethroning and Iola’s elevation to Queen of Hell.

Let’s just say, it isn’t going as planned.

Eliot Rahal presents us a nice, if diabolic and at times more than a little darkly-tinged story of regret and questioning one’s values…and sets up a whole heap more trouble for those poor, unsuspecting dolts at Baxter High. His exploration of Madam Satan’s evolution is an engaging character study into one of the more interesting cast members of the wider Sabrinaverse, examining her modes, motivations and means of being further than the comic had to this point (and catching up a bit to the show). In truth, this tale is isn’t so much a complete saga in and of itself as much as it is a segue into a new arc for said ‘verse, but it is an excellent supplemental tale in its own right, for a wickedly divine foe in the process of getting her feet back under her.

Like essentially all of the Archie Horror books so far, the art in this one is a real feast. Julius Ohta’s lines are dark, creepy, nuanced and, well, a bit demonic…as one might expect of a book centered around the Queen of Hell and set in, well, Hell. Frankly, I find his style to be in the family of Adam Hughes (and that’s a very, very good thing), especially in his renderings of Iola and her henchwoman Uzza–all emotive looks and deepening shadows. But, as in the other Archie Horror books, the tone of the piece (both in writing and artistic style) is what makes it (and all of them) such marvelous pieces: Ohta and Rahal both tread the fine line of drawing a world that my mother would have had me saying 15 Rosaries for even looking at, within a tone and oeuvre that would’ve left me justified chuckling, “Aw, chill out Ma, it’s just a funny book!” Significant kudos, not just to this team but to all of the Archie Horror veterans for having achieved such an impressive balance.

And of course, no good line, at least, one set to depict Pandemonium, Gehenna and all of the fun li’l ‘hoods of Hell, does it’s job completely without the color to define them—and here, Matt Herms does an outstanding job. Archie Horror comics are still Archie Comics—bright, fun and most of all entertaining, despite their macabre subject matter—and Herms’ palettes keep the action set firmly within that tone. Again, an impressive accomplishment given the subject matter and the feel they’re striving for: contrast Herms’ colors of Hell against Dave Stewart’s work on Hellboy’s Hell (also a masterpiece), and you see the difference. Bright and vibrant, but simultaneously dark and sinister in just the right balance. A prime example of the value of a talented colorist.

Which of course leaves us with Jack Morelli, letterer extraordinaire. And Morelli gets to flex a bit on this one—the variety of fonts and text styles he uses for various characters and demons are wonderfully effective and really aid in separating out the “voices” of the various and sundry hellions involved in our sultry little tale. That, and he gets to work in the occasional nifty sound effect too—and all without disrupting the flow of Ohta and Herms’ art (if anything, enhancing it).

All in all, Madam Satan is a fine piece as a standalone one-off, but one intrinsically wound into the Sabrina universe and which promises good fun from the cast to come.

So—get yerselves on over to your trusty LCS, or if needs be, Amazon or ComiXology (or straight off of the Archie Comics website itself), and pick up this little gem!

12/13

Review by Andy Patch

Contributing Editor

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