LADY DEATHOriginal Medium: Comic books
Published by: Chaos! Comics
First Appeared: 1991
Creators: Brian Pulido (writer) and Steven Hughes (artist)
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Most American comic books these days are marketed to adolescent males, so naturally, there are a lot of sexy women in them. A popular genre is the "bad girl" — a strong female protagonist who isn't entirely a "good guy", and who usually exhibits at least a touch of the dominatrix in both attitude and apparel. Examples
include Marvel Comics' Elektra and DC's Catwoman. But those two are wimps compared with Lady Death.
Back in the early 13th century, when she was passing for human, Lady Death's name was Hope. She was the daughter of Matthias, whose ancestors 666 generations back had been among Lucifer's fallen angels; and Marion, a woman so pure and good her lineage went all the way to Heaven itself. Hope grew up with Mom, who died when she was in her teens, so she went to stay with Dad. But he was so hard to live with, her ancestral home, Hell, seemed more attractive. There, she got caught up in centuries-old conspiracies and machinations, and wound up ruling the place, but because of a curse couldn't return to Earth as long as anyone lived here. That's why she adopted everybody's death as a personal goal.
Lady Death was first seen in Evil Ernie #1, a comic book about a super-powered, undead homicidal maniac (no relation), dated December, 1991. She'd been the impetus behind Ernie's drive to annihilate everybody, appearing in his dreams to offer her more-than-ample charms in return for his effort. The story was written by Brian Pulido and drawn by Steven Hughes, both of whom are best known for these and related characters. It was published by Eternity Comics, one of a cluster of small publishers, which also included Malibu, Bravura and a few others. Men in Black is probably the best known property to come out of this group.
When next seen, Lady Death was published by Chaos! Comics, which Pulido founded for the sole purpose of presenting characters like her and Ernie. Others in the line included bad girls Purgatori and Bad Kitty, and representatives of other genres such as Insane Clown Posse. Chaos!'s first Lady Death mini-series came out in 1994, with more mini-series and oneshots following for the rest of the 1990s and into the 21st century. She had an ongoing series for 16 issues, February, 1998 through May, 1999. In 1999, she had a crossover with another publisher's bad girl, Vampirella.
Lady Death was popular enough to be turned into an animated movie. Writer/producer Carl Macek (Robotech) did her in anime style. He altered the character a little, upgrading her father to Lucifer himself. It was released to video on October 5, 2004. It has not enjoyed very favorable reviews.
Meanwhile, Chaos! Comics filed for bankruptcy in 2002. The Lady Death character wound up in the hands of a newer company, CrossGen Entertainment. CrossGen starred her in a new mini-series, written by Pulido and drawn by a newcomer to the field, Ivan Reis, another in which her origin was tinkered with. In this version, her father was Tvarus, leader of The Eldritch (a species of demon that liked to terrorize and destroy human villages for sport). Hope's conception occurred during a single night of passion, while The Eldritch were having their way with Novgorod, the Swedish village where Marion, who had no idea this was going on until it was all over, had lived. No explanation was offered as to why a Swedish village had a Slavic-sounding name.
CrossGen, too, went bankrupt shortly after. Pulido is now writing Lady Death for Avatar Press, which seems likely to keep the character in print for some time to come.