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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.

Origin

Chato using his powers
Chato using his powers

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 and the supernatural being Chutriel.

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.

Creation

Chato Santana was created by Jai Nitz and Phil Hester. He made his first appearance in El Diablo #1.

Character Evolution

Modern Age

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.

Post-Flashpoint

Chato appears as a member of the Suicide Squad in the New Suicide Squad series. While fighting the Fist of Cain, Chato ends up sacrificing himself to save the other members of Task Force X by using his powers to banish himself and Rose Tattoo to hell.

Chato later reappears in the Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot and Katana mini-series, with no mention of him having been to hell. When Deadshot runs away from a mission to find and kill his father, Amanda Waller sends the Suicide Squad (Chato, Cheetah, Captain Boomerang and Harley Quinn) to hunt Floyd down and bring him back to Belle Reve. Chato has grave misgivings about the mission and expressed a reluctance to hurt Lawton, whom he considered a friend. Later on, Deadshot's replacement Will Evans goes rogue, and when Chato tries to stop him with a wall of fire, Evans retaliates by killing Chato with a bullet to the head.

Major Story Arcs

El Diablo

Chato as supernatural entity El Diablo
Chato as supernatural entity El Diablo

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.

Suicide Squad

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.

Checkmate

Chato's sentence is seemingly over, but Amanda Waller refuses to release him unless he promises to complete one last mission for her. Chato refuses, and is spared Waller's anger by the intervention of Checkmate. They also offer him a mission, which he again refuses until he returns to Los Angeles and finds himself drawn into a confrontation with metahuman gang leader Bloodletter. He accepts a mission to track the metahuman Xolotl through the Sonoran desert, a mission which goes awry, leading to several operatives being severely wounded. Taken to Metropolis he is attacked by Parasite, and rescued by Azucar. The pair travel to Gotham City, where Azucar informs him that Checkmate has been corrupted by Jake Dalesko, who is conducting human experiments for his own gain. Chato steals a laptop alleged to contain details of Dalesko's malfeasance, and joins Azucar in attempting to locate more evidence, but they are ambushed by Sin-Tzu and a horde of metahumans. They are rescued by Batman, and travel to Texas, where they discover that Xolotl is a White Martian masquerading as an ancient god. Chato becomes caught up in fighting between an incarnation of the Suicide Squad and the Justicia. Xolotl is killed by Dalesko and Chato flees in an effort to avoid being drawn into superheroics. He is pursued and killed by Deadshot, but resurrected by the fallen angel Chutriel. He disposes of Dalesko and rejoins the Squad, now unable to die.

Justice League vs Suicide Squad

On a mission with the Squad, Chato is confronted by the Justice League. He confronts and fights the Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, by whom he is defeated. He is nearly killed by Waller activating his brain bomb, but survives when Killer Frost manages to overwhelm Superman and defeat the League. He joins the rest of the League in combating the threat posed by Maxwell Lord and his original Suicide Squad. He fights several demons summoned by Johnny Sorrow and takes on Dr. Polaris before being rendered unconscious.

Other Versions

Injustice

In the Injustice universe, El Diablo is a reserve member of the Suicide Squad, now under the control of Ra's Al Ghul. He is considered a power house and is one of the biggest defenses Ra's Al Ghul's base has against enemy attacks.

Powers and Abilities

  • Pyrokenisis: He is able to manipulate and control fire at will. He is also able to control the temperature of the flame.
  • Heat Generation: He is able to manipulate or distort the temperature of his surroundings
  • Immortal: Due to being possessed by the fallen angel Chutriel, Chato is unable to age or die. He cannot be killed, and returns to life even following grievous wounds.
  • Resurgence: Whenever Chato is killed, he is able to resurrect because Chutriel brings him back to life. This is demonstrated when Deadshot kills him but a minute later Chato is brought back to life.
  • Demon Mode: Chato is able to allow Chutriel to take full control of his body. When he does this Chato turns into a powerful fiery warrior with a demon like figure.

Other Media

Films

Suicide Squad

Jay Hernandez as El Diablo
Jay Hernandez as El Diablo

Chato appears as one of the main characters in this film and is portrayed by Jay Hernandez. In the beginning Chato is a ruthless gang member who terrorizes the streets of Los Angeles using his pyrokenetic abilities. That leads to him being dubbed El Diablo. After a while he decides to settle down and become a family man but that proves to be a dire mistake as he loses his temper one night and burns his entire house down, killing his wife and kids. Feeling guilty, he turns himself into the LAPD and swears off any use of his powers. While in custody he is met by Amanda Waller, taken to Belle Reve and recruited to join the Suicide Squad.

Throughout the movie and during Enchantress' attack on Midway City, Chato is hesitant to join the fight and doesn't use powers out of fear of hurting those around him. He is however pushed into using his powers by Deadshot in order to save the Squad from being killed. In the end he uses the full might of his powers to sacrifice himself, kill Incubus and help thwart Enchantresses plan.

Video Games

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

El Diablo is a playable character in Lego Batman 3. He is available as a part of the Suicide Squad DLC pack.

Suicide Squad: Special Ops

El Diablo is one of three available playable characters in the mobile game based on the movie. In the game you have control over his pyrokenetic powerset.

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