In this volume of Misty short stories we turn to the complete Misty stories that featured the Devil. The volume will focus on the roles the Devil played in the short stories, and how these compare to his role in Misty’s most famous Devil serial: “Winner Loses All!”.
Artist: Jorge Badia Romero
Linda is a pyromaniac and has burned down a number of buildings. Her life has become a string of doctors, criminal convictions, time served etc., but nothing changes her setting fire to everything – including the borstal she was sent to. She escapes from her latest detention centre and sets fire to a warehouse. The fire gets out of control and, for the first time in Linda’s life, fire makes her afraid when she becomes trapped in the blaze. A dog rescues Linda and leads her to a cave. In the cave Linda meets the Devil and the dog is revealed as Cerberus. The Devil throws Linda into the fires of Hell, saying someone with a passion for fire like her should call it home.
Artist: Carlos Guirado
Molly Grimshaw is selfish and a shoplifter, which causes trouble on a school trip. Her misbehaviour delayed their return, and as a result they get caught in a blizzard. The bus breaks down, and the teacher takes off in search of help. He tells the pupils to stay in the bus and together, and share what food they have. Molly has no intention of doing any of those things, though she does have food. Fed up with how cold it is on the bus, Molly takes off in search of someplace warmer, but soon realises just how cold and dangerous it is. She stumbles across a house, which is occupied by a hooded figure. When he lowers his hood, he reveals himself as the Devil. He tells Molly she will never be cold again. Guess why.
Here we have two delinquent girls who thought they had escaped death when their misdeeds backfired. Then they find they really had died because of this, and the Devil is waiting to cast them into the fires of Hell. In both these stories the Devil is the ultimate nemesis of the story, inflicting a Misty-style punishment for being bad. But he takes no part in the action of the story itself, and does not set up the punishment that is to be inflicted. He is just there at the end, waiting for the bad girl to arrive. It is the girl who brings about her own destruction, through her own crimes.
It’s funny how one girl is blowing hot and the other cold when they come up to him. This makes the fires of Hell punish them in totally different, but fitting ways. In the case of Linda, she is being punished and tormented by fire, which she used to commit arson all the time. In Molly’s case, she finds a warm spot from the cold, but it brings her everlasting torment instead of comfort.
A third Misty story, “Room for One More”, follows a similar line of destruction for a young criminal. But it has been excluded from discussion here because the Devil himself does not appear in the story.
Artist: Maria Barrera
Mandy Siddons is a bad girl at school and a shoplifter. She meets a creepy old nightwatchman who keeps his face concealed. He says he will see her soon, but she dismisses this. The police turn up on Mandy’s doorstep about the shoplifting. While running away from them, Mandy nearly gets hit by a car. She is then surprised to find nobody seems to see her, not even when she’s shoplifting. In the evening she meets the nightwatchman again. In his fire, she sees that she really did get run over. And there is no sign of the things she stole that day. The nightwatchman says that if she’s ready, they’ll be moving on, and reveals himself as the Devil. Mandy begs for another chance. The last panel, in a hospital, shows a doctor saying Mandy will live. A policeman says this sort of thing might have her behave from now on.
It is not often Misty gives a bad girl a second chance in her short stories. But she does so in this case. And it is handled so effectively, with a near death experience. We have heard stories like these: people undergoing near death experiences in hospital, and some of them have included experiences of Hell.
In the story, the Devil seems to be more like the Angel of Death than the Prince of Darkness. Instead of being all ready to throw her into Hell, he seems to be holding the Grimreaper’s scythe in abeyance, and is allowing scope for one last chance before Mandy even begged for it. We presume this is because she is not actually dead yet, she’s at the halfway point in hospital, and could go either way. If she really had died, the last panel would definitely show her going the way of Linda and Molly.
The Love and the Laughter
Artist: Maria Barrera
Reprint: Best of Misty #4
Molly Wright wants to help her Uncle Billy’s ailing circus, ignoring his assurances that she helps by just being his “pretty Molly”. She takes a book on dark magic from Scrodini the Magician’s caravan and summons the Devil. She makes a pact with the Devil for him to help Uncle’s ailing circus, for the usual fee. Performers arrive from nowhere to help Uncle’s circus and its business is soon booming. Molly can’t forget the pact she made because she sees the Devil everywhere. The Devil comes to Molly to collect his due. At this point Scrodini and Uncle Billy come up. They have worked out what happened, but see a way out of the pact – destroy the book, which will destroy the spell. It works, and all the evil vanishes. Afterwards, Uncle tells Molly that please, please, she helps him by just being his pretty Molly.
This was the only complete Misty story to use the theme of a pact with the Devil, which was later used in “Winner Loses All!”. The story appeared early on in Misty’s run and could have been an inspiration for “Winner Loses All!” It may even be the same writer. After all, like the protagonist in that story, Sandy Morton, Molly makes the pact out of love, in a desperate but misguided bid to help her guardian. But unlike Sandy, there is an easy but credible way out of it, and without anybody’s soul being taken.
Birds of a Feather
Artist: J. Garcia Pizzaro
A girl finds a small girl being bullied and rescues her. The child is not grateful, saying the bullies are her kind of people. The girl warns of a devil cult on a hill and to stay away. Actually the child welcomes the information and heads straight up there. The devil cult is sacrificing a chicken to the Devil. The child stops them, saying it’s useless because the chicken has no soul for the Devil to claim. They attempt to sacrifice the child instead but she warns her Uncle will be angry. Her Uncle turns out to be the Devil. He opens up a hole in the ground, and the devil worshippers get swallowed up. The child takes the chicken to the girl, saying: “She is too good and kind to be my friend but I feel she will ever be yours.”
Here we have a twist where the Devil actually reaches out to punish wrongdoers – and they are Devil worshippers, who were worshipping the very entity that destroyed them! We have heard that evil gets destroyed by evil, but that’s a real twist on that old adage. It’s quite a surprise twist too, having the girl turn out to be the Devil’s niece. We didn’t know the Devil had family. It’s also nice to see that although the Devil’s niece can’t show gratitude to the girl who tried to help her, the girl will still get a reward for her kindness. And we are very pleased to see that the chicken will be safe.
Don’t Look Now!
Artist: Eduardo Feito
Jan Parker is nicknamed “nosy” because she sticks her nose into everyone’s business. A man comes into pawn shop where she works and leaves a pair of glasses. Nosy Jan can’t resist trying them, but when she does, she sees everyone’s heads as the animal that reflects their characters (sly man is a fox, a timid woman a mouse, etc.). This is driving her to distraction, but she can’t remove the glasses. When the man returns, the glasses enable Jan to see what he really is: a goat figure. She realises he is the Chief of Tempters i.e. the Devil. The Devil left the glasses deliberately because he knew Miss Nosy would be tempted to try them on. He says that if he tells her how to remove the glasses he will claim her soul instantly. If she decides against it he will leave her alone, but she will be stuck with the glasses forever. To help Jan decide, he holds a mirror up to her face, and the glasses make her see herself as an ass.
The story has already been discussed in another list of Misty short stories on this website, so this discussion on it will concentrate on the Devil’s role. Unlike the other devil-themed complete Misty stories the Devil plays a proactive role in the story. He sets the story in motion by putting temptation in Jan’s path. Instead of waiting for her to hang herself with her misdeeds before claiming her soul, as he did so often in the other stories above, he plays on her weakness to set a trap for her, and force her to choose between her sanity and her soul.
In Misty’s short stories, the Devil, although evil, was not used as a villain. He was used most often to illustrate the everlasting punishment Christianity warns against those who sinned in their lifetime, not to mention the damnation the complete Misty stories themselves loved to wreak against wrongdoers. Some of the stories also used the Devil as a warning against temptation, crime, and dabbling in the dark arts. It may be for this reason that some ended on a happier note than others.