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ISSUE NO. 814

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XThe original headliner of DC's All-Star Western was intended to be a character called Outlaw. However, the book also needed another new western character as a back-up feature.

At the time, DC's mystery titles were selling very well, so it was inevitable that to fill this spot, DC would create a somewhat mysterious type of sheriff -- a sort of supernatural Zorro.

Drawing inspiration from seminal western superheroes such as The Masked Rider and Zorro, the company created a decidely non-devilish new character with the ironic name of El Diablo. Breaking with established tradition, his first appearance came in ASW#2, in the middle Xof the issue's lead story, featuring Outlaw. His basically rode in for a cameo, then vanished.


All-Star Western editor Joe Orlando assigned the series writing chores to veteran Robert Kanigher (pictured right), who had authored several truckloads of DC stories by this time, including the Barry Allen version of The Flash, co-creating Black Canary, Poison Ivy, the Metal Men, and, of course, Sgt. Rock, as well as The Haunted Tank and about a million others.

To draw El Diablo, Orlando was lucky enough to get western-loving artist Gray Morrow, (pictured left) whose moody, soft, highly-detailed artwork lent the series an incredible and exciting air of mystery.



El Diablo's name may have been inspired by Robert E. Howard's El Borak ("The Swift One" in Arabic), who debuted in Top Notch #1, December 1934, cover pictured below). El Borak was a pulp adventure hero in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia...
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El Diablo's first-ever appearance was in All-Star Western #2, in the middle of the lead feature. That story was inked by Tony DeZuniga, who also laid out the page featuring Diablo's debut.

Pictured below is DeZuniga's rough pencil layout for the page, followed by the printed page, in which numerous changes from the original layout were made, most noticably, the great panel four establishing shot of Diablo was changed to long shot, perhaps to save the character's big debut moment for his own story, also found in the same comic.
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Exactly how did El Diablo get his "powers," and unique methods? His beginnings were not revealed until his second story, "Call Him Satan, Call Him Saint," which ran in ASW #3. Double-page splash pictured below...
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OK, let's get to the ORIGIN part.
It starts with some punks outside the town bank...
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Struck by a righteous bolt of lightning, Lazarus Lane was left completely pralyzed, and in a comatose state. Believe it ornot, he remained immobile, cared for by his Indian companion, Wise Owl, for the rest of his life...
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Hey, wait! How did a comatose man become a weird western superhero? Well, that's the WEIRD part. Wise Owl's mystical chants occasionally brought Lazarus back to health, to stalk the night as El Diablo because, "The Great Spirit will not allow a man to die until he pays what he owes! It is written!" Exactly WHERE that is written is not specified. Ayo-ay-huh-ayyy!
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BELOW: The El Diablo page from DC's Who's Who.
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Our El Diablo series continues...
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