This article is about the third person to use the name El Diablo, Chato Santana. For the first, see Lazarus Lane. For the second, see Rafael Sandoval.
Chato Santana was the ruthless and powerful leader of a dangerous street gang in Los Angeles who gained pyrokinetic powers following an encounter with Lazarus Lane. After a rival gang sold drugs on his turf and refused to give him a cut, Chato attacked them at their home, setting the building ablaze. Entering the building, he found that not only the gangsters, but also a woman and children, had died in the blaze. Distraught, he allowed himself to be taken into custody.
Chato Santana was created by Jai Nitz and Phil Hester. He made his first appearance in El Diablo #1.
Born in California but primarily raised in Mexico, Chato Santana joined Los Reyes Locos, a street gang, at a young age. Ruthless and intelligent, he quickly rose to the head of the gang. Following a police sting and subsequent betrayal from his second-in-command Jorge, Chato was left paralyzed and imprisoned. Briefly kept in a hospital room with a comatose Lazarus Lane, Chato was nearly killed after his old gang sent hitmen after him, believing he had turned state's evidence. Nearly dead, he travelled to the spirit world, where Lazarus Lane passed the El Diablo curse to him. Taking his revenge on the would-be assassins, Chato fled the hospital with Lane and took up the identity of El Diablo.
This version of the character was subject to the El Diablo curse, which is laid upon a person by the supernatural being Chutriel, a spirit of vengeance and punishment. As El Diablo, Chato is immortal and extremely resistant to injury; while he is in the El Diablo form he is healed from all wounds he suffered as Chato; as Chato, he is paralyzed from the waist down. He is able to see the sins a person has committed written on their souls, and is forced by his powers to seek vengeance on them. He is able to see both the spiritual and corporeal planes at the same time, and to see and communicate with spirits. The curse is able to influence him to go where he needs to be, and ensures that he has whatever he needs to carry out his mission. He carries a flaming whip and a hellfire pistol, both of which are only able to strike sinners. He has a supernatural horse named Sombra.
The New 52 introduced the character's current origins and powers.
Major Story Arcs
On the run with Lane, Chato travels to New Mexico where he seeks out and defeats one of El Diablo's ancient enemies. Against Lane's wishes, he returns home to try to seek revenge against the agent who incarcerated him, Alex Aaron. Finding Aaron under attack by Vorpal he saves the agent, but finds himself unable to harm Aaron, an innocent. Learning from Aaron that his treacherous second-in-command was an undercover cop who went rogue, he hunts him down and takes revenge, while Lane simultaneously dies in a fight with Vorpal, fully passing the El Diablo curse to Chato. Becoming aware of a broader conspiracy at work, he moves to Arizona to begin investigating his curse and the people who are after him. He is tipped off by Aaron as to the location of the villainous group Cerberus, but during his attempt to find them his girlfriend is murdered. Distraught by recent events and the curse forcing him to kill his friends, he attempts to commit suicide by super villain, but is prevented by the Freedom Fighters. He and Vorpal immediately make a truce and turn on the heroes. During the fight with the Freedom Fighters, Chato is forcibly separated from Chutriel, taken into police custody, and sentenced to death. He is executed, but rises from the grave as El Diablo shortly after, and seeks revenge on the goddess who orchestrated the separation, Ninhursag. He fights and defeats the spawn of Ninhursag and Chutriel, Ghatanothoa, and finally fully accepts the role of El Diablo.
A repentant prisoner of Belle Reve, Chato is inducted into the Suicide Squad. He accompanies the team on several successful missions, often clashing with the fluid morality and willingness to kill exhibited by his fellow teammates. He is single-handedly responsible for dispersing a prison riot. Growing increasingly unhinged by mounting religious delusions, Chato becomes convinced God has chosen him to act as divine vengeance. In fact, he is being affected by posthypnotic suggestion, as he is one of the sleeper agents planted on the Squad by Black Spider on behalf of Basilisk. He attacks his teammates, and is defeated when he is frozen by Iceberg's severed hand.
The Fist of Cain
Remaining at Belle Reve despite having completed his sentence, Chato is among the Suicide Squad members who are included in the escape from Belle Reve orchestrated by Adam Reed. Working primarily with Harley Quinn when the Fist of Cain strikes, he incapacitates several cultists and welds shut a door to keep the surviving Squad members alive to regroup. Believing that Rose Tattoo has pursued him as punishment for his sins, he attacks her and apparently drags her to Hell, seemingly damning or destroying himself in the process.
Chato is taken out of Belle Reve by agents of Checkmate who offer him the opportunity to work for them. He declines, until a confrontation with a gangster in his old neighbourhood causes him to re-evaluate and join Checkmate.
Powers and Abilities
El Diablo is pyrokinetic, able to generate and absorb flames intense enough to instantly incinerate a human body, and this ability is tied to his tattoos in some way. When he uses his powers to generate or consume flame, his tattoos burn off. He appears to need to have the tattoos redone by conventional means, but it is unclear what would happen if he were to have no tattoos left. He is also able to withstand intense heat, and can set parts of himself on fire to increase the efficacy of blows.
Chato appears as one of the main characters in this film. He is portrayed by Jay Hernandez.