Four on one, but the one is El Diablo. Artist: Mike Parobeck.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1989
Creators: Gerard Jones (writer) and Mike Parobeck (artist)
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In the late 1980s, the name "Diablo" at DC Comics referred only to the island where Eclipso got powered up, The Whip's horse, and a minor old-west hero who had come and gone during the previous decade without most people even having so much as noticed. But such a fine name for a superhero, especially an …

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… Hispanic one, could scarcely be allowed to go to waste, so they pinned it on another minor character who also, as it turned out, came and went without most people having taken notice, but this one set in the present.

The new El Diablo was Rafael Sandoval, recently elected to the town council of Dos Rios, Texas, but unable to deal with a menace without that old comic book standby, putting on a superhero suit to conceal his identity. The look he chose was based on a combination of an old Mexan-style costumed prizefighter and a local legend. The costume was from an old festival. The name means "Devil" in his native Spanish.

The first issue was written by Gerard Jones (Elongated Man, Freex), author of Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, a history of the early DC. The artist was Mike Parobeck, whose later work on Batman Adventures, based on the animated version of the old DC standby, garnered a great deal of critical acclaim. The cover date was August, 1989.

El Diablo stuck around for 16 issues, ending with a cover date of January 1991. The creators stayed with it through its entire run. Not entirely unrespectable for the time, but far from a raging success. He then hit the guest-star circuit, and has been kicking around the DC universe ever since. Later uses of the name, mostly in DC's Vertigo line (Sandman, Animal Man) have tended to hark back to the '70s western.

Even as a mere guest star, he hasn't been wildly popular. But when the need arises for a small-town superhero of Hispanic extraction, El Diablo is on the way!


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.