The opening of Madam Satan is heavy on exposition, filling readers in on the history of Madam Satan up to the point where this issue takes place, but that’s to be expected. Luckily, a good portion of the rest of the one-shot is able to avoid that trap as the story develops.
Eliot Rahal’s script goes down a couple of interesting avenues, following Madam Satan as she handles listens to the groveling of her subjects and dispatches a particular nuisance to her kingdom. However, it feels like a few of these threads don’t really go much of anywhere. If the idea is to showcase how quickly Madam Satan has become bored of her role, then it mostly works in that regard. However, the overall structure of the issue makes this one-shot feel even more obviously like a small part of a larger whole (which it technically is), rather than allowing it to fully stand on its own as a story worth telling.
Fans of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will pretty much know what the deal is with Madam Satan and why she came to Greendale, so this doesn’t necessarily appease any kind of rabid curiosity. Instead, this issue mostly feels like we’re just following Madam Satan on another day in Hell, until she decided to fly the coop. The result is a little underwhelming.
Still, the positives of the issue are well worth diving into. The artwork from Julius Ohta is exquisite, particularly when it comes to rendering Madam Satan’s different facial expressions and body language. She is simultaneously the most powerful and most lost individual on her plane of existence, and that comes through in every furtive glance and clench of her fist. The various circles of Hell are shown in interesting ways, never coming across as over-designed. Instead, Hell is depicted as a majestic wasteland, peopled with varied and strikingly-designed demons.
Matt Herms’ colors give the book that sort of earthy, pulp-infused tone of many of the other Archie Horror books. This not only makes the otherworldly moments feel slightly grounded, but it also brings the melancholy of the lead character to the front. Likewise, Jack Morelli does some interesting things with lettering. Every class of demon seems to have their own pattern of speech, with some seeming more flowery and others more jagged and unrefined. It’s a cool choice that makes some of these one-panel characters stand out a bit more.
The last act of the issue is taken up by a lengthy dialogue sequence, which is honestly superb. Without going into spoilers, there’s a long discussion about the nature of evil and what the devil’s role is in the grand scheme of things. It’s a really well-done scene that made me wish the rest of the issue had followed suit.
Madam Satan is an interesting one-shot, in that it seems tailor-made for fans who want to fill in some of the gaps in the character’s story. However, it also feels like it’s not quite a full story on its own. Of course, this is the trap that prequels and spin-offs occasionally fall into. At the end of the day, fans will probably get much more out of this than casual readers. However, the final pages are still worth a look for their philosophical dive into what makes Satan tick.
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