For our second seasonal trip to the necropolis of Nobody’s Favorites, we’re going to check in with a diabolic damsel from the dying days of disco. Ladies and gentlemen, bats and ghouls, slip on your finest pair of boogie shoes and say hello to the Satin Satan.
Also known as “Sabrina Sultress,” this Bianca Jagger-esque beauty was a supermodel by day and a sorcerous semi-succubus by night. She made her debut in Justice League of America #179 (June 1980) as the arcane antagonist of the two-part tale which marked Firestorm’s first adventure with the titular superteam.
Using an unholy blend of high fashion and hellborn magic, the Satin Satan entranced a series of bridge ‘n’ tunnel Lotharios in order to create an army of demonically transformed minions. It was a pretty bizarre plan as far as super-villainous schemes went, but props to Sabrina for figuring out a way to capitalize on her hyper-specific skillset and a nigh-unlimited source of raw material at hand.
The JLA entered the picture when the older brother of one of Ronnie Raymond’s high school pals vanished after a frantic night of shaking his groove thang (yeah yeah). The missing man’s trail led to the velvet rope of the exclusive “Studio” dance club, where a power-fro’ed onlooker recalled seeing him leave for Sabrina’s penthouse.
Sensing something more than a simple coke-fueled tryst was afoot, Ronnie transformed (by fusing with the befuddled Prof. Martin Stein) into the fabulous Firestorm to check out the seductive siren’s luxurious lair in person. There he found both the missing lounge lizard — changed into an immobile metal statue — and the Satin Satan herself, who sapped away the Nuclear Man’s will with a Luciferian liplock. (Attention, adolescent boys: This will never happen to you.)
Despite the crippling love hangover, Stormy still managed to send out a distress signal to the other Leaguers. They arrived to find the apartment empty save for a couple of the Satan Satan’s demonic minions, forcing them to use their earth-shaking powers to…uh…rifle through Sabrina’s underwear drawer and walk-in closets in search of a clue regarding her current whereabouts.
Upon exploding one of the demonic servants left behind by its mistress, Zatanna picked up mystical energy trail leading directly to the Satin Satan’s headquarters…
…a Central Park roller disco named “Hell on Wheels.” (And you thought Doomstadt and the Dark Dimension were terrifying places to hang a cape.)
An epic battle ensued yadda yadda Firestorm broke free of Sabrina’s control yadda yadda the magically enslaved disco denizens were freed yadda yadda Zatanna exorcised the demon which possessed Sabrina and made her evil and stuff yadda yadda.
With those salient and predictable plot points taken care of, the only thing left to do was toss in an appropriately ambiguous final panel and call it a day.
“…they might well wonder if the story has truly ended after all…”
Considering we never got follow-up stories where the Detroit Era League had to stop Sabrina’s subversion of the Hi-NRG scene or Justice League International got trapped in her Acid House of the Devil, I’d say the answer is “yes, it had truly ended.” (Note: I would’ve read the hell out of either of those stories.)
As a writer, the hyper-topicality the Satin Satan’s brief reign of terror makes me wince. The concepts involved had the shelf life of a supermarket bakery donut, and felt dated within moments of hitting the stands. It cuts to the quick of the genre’s uneasy balancing act between disposable entertainment and maintaining an ongoing sense of shared universe continuity. Every creative work is going to be a product of its era, naturally, but the trick is not to confuse “product of” with “prisoner to.”
As a student of history, however, stories like this are incredible cultural artifacts — specific moments in time captured and preserved like flies in amber. They exist entirely in their individual “now,” unsullied by embarrassed revisionism or after-the-fact myth-making. (Although when it comes to Bronze Age comics, you have to account for a time lag of a year or two between a cultural phenomenon breaking and being depicted in funnybook form.)
I guess what I’m saying is that the Satin Satan may have been utterly godawful, but she’s also my kind of godawful.
Recommended listening: Emilia – Satan in Love (from a 1981 single)
What the devil started, she’ll Finnish.