Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Pure chemistry: Viva Diablo!



With the plethora of stuff on the shelves of your LCS, I sincerely hope you have not passed by a small gem heading for its climax: Iron Man/Thor by the scribes that made Marvel Cosmic cool, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and penciler Scot Eaton.

And while it has been interesting to watch two of the founding Avengers face a world of both magic and science, coping with the High Evolutionary’s scheme to make a relative God (emphasis on the capital “G”) for our times, the true pleasure of this story has been the respect DnA have given old, venerable characters like the Crimson Dynamo, Ulik … and especially Diablo, who in issue #3 became the true villain of the piece!

DnA treat Diablo with respect, not as just props in a play. We know how smart the Evolutionary is, but Diablo is accorded a breath-of-fresh-air respect he has not seen since John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four. Very clever.

Of course, the irony is that the High Evolutionary is trying to create a “relative” God for the 21st century. Using a futurist such as Tony Stark as the vessel and a mystical touch of divinity from Thor makes perfect sense, in a linear way of thinking. But depending on an ally who practices one of the oldest forms of mysticism known to man, Diablo, seems suspect from the beginning.

And in Iron Man/Thor #3, the tables are turned, thanks to Diablo, and no longer is the High Evolutionary our chief foe but one more element in his own experiment.

Diablo, AKA Esteban Corazon de Ablo, was a powerful alchemist in the 9th century who sold his soul to the demon Mephisto to lengthen his life far beyond a human span. Years later, Diablo set up a base in Transylvania, but the villagers there turned against him and buried him within a stone crypt under his castle. Another century later, the Fantastic Four appeared in Transylvania on a vacation. A local, Baron Hugo, told them the legend of Diablo. That night, Diablo whispered to the Thing to awake and free him from his prison by pulling out the stone plug on his crypt and smashing the stone slab that covered him. Freed, Diablo offered a potion to the Thing that would turn him halfway into a human, and in exchange for Ben’s services for a year, he would give him the other potion that would finalize the change.

When the rest of the Fantastic Four arrived, they found Ben working for Diablo. They fought with him and tried to convince him to leave his service, but Ben refused, and the FF was forced to leave him behind. Diablo soon made his appearance known to the world, and sold his alchemic chemicals internationally, making him the richest man on the planet. Shortly before the rest of the world, Reed Richards discovered that Diablo’s chemicals worked, but only for a short while before failing. The world turned on Diablo, but he had already built up an army of loyal followers and was prepared to use his alchemic powers to conquer the planet.

But once Diablo had revealed his true intentions, the Fantastic Four were free to attack him. At the same time, the Thing had also discovered that the potion he was given wore off, and he turned on Diablo, but Diablo used one of his chemical pellets to knock him out and seal him in an unbreakable, glass capsule. The remaining three members of the Fantastic Four soon attacked Diablo’s fortress, but after a struggle, Diablo managed to capture them with his chemical pellets. Diablo sealed up the last of the Fantastic Four in the same capsules, but Ben quickly escaped when his broke down. Angered, he chased Diablo through his own castle until he crushed a suit of armor into a giant ball and threw it after the alchemist. Diablo ran from it, hiding within the crypt that the villagers had sealed him in. The Thing followed behind him and reinserted the giant, stone plug, and then smashed it with both fists, causing the entire castle to come crumbling down upon the crypt. The Fantastic Four were later freed, and the Human Torch melted the stone into slag to harden Diablo’s prison.


But Diablo eventually used his potions to destroy his melted, stone prison, and escape to revenge himself upon the Fantastic Four. His next move was to travel to North America and New York's State University, where he helped Professor Gilbert to animate his android creation, Dragon Man. He turned the Dragon Man against the Fantastic Four, but it eventually turned on him and drove both of them underneath a frozen lake, where he was lost for a time. Diablo later reactivated the Dragon Man, creating a whole army of Dragon Men. He was defeated by the Avengers.

Diablo later clashed with Doctor Doom. He next took the Inhuman, Crystal, captive. He took control of Terra Verde, but was ultimately defeated by the Human Torch. Diablo later recruited Darkoth as a pawn to battle Doctor Doom, but was betrayed. Diablo later sent elementals to battle the Fantastic Four, and battled Iron Man after that.

It was later revealed that Diablo had a romantic relationship with the woman who became the criminal Gilded Lily. Diablo was freed from prison by Gilded Lily, though he turned against her and was defeated by A;pha Flight. Diablo later attacked the Fantastic Four, again using elementals against them. Diablo conquered the country of Tierra del Maiz, and in another clash with Alpha Flight he was apparently killed.

However, Diablo survived and reappeared. He was responsible for the destruction of the Fantastic Four's headquarters, Pier 4. But he also aided the FF in driving the demon Shuma-Gorath back to its home dimension.

During The Guantlet storyline, Diablo is present with Electro, Ana Kravinoff, Sasha Kravinoff and Alyosha Kravinoff when Mattie Franklin is sacrificed as part of a ritual that resurrects Vladimir Kravinoff  as a humanoid lion creature.

During the Origin of the Species storyline, Diablo is invited by Doctor Octopus to join his supervillain team where he promises them that they will receive a reward in exchange for securing some specific items for him. Ever since Lily Hollister's baby was stolen by the Chameleon, Spider-Man had been going on a rampage against any villains involved. The police recovered a web ball containing Spot, Diablo and Overdrive.

Seemingly one of the High Evolutionary’s henchmen, Diablo will take center stage in Iron Man/Thor #4. What will that mean for our heroes, the God of Thunder and ol’ Shellhead. Stay tuned!

"Iron Man/Thor" #4 hits stores February 2nd!