The notion of Superman without his Clark Kent morality isn't a new idea, but Satan's Soldier, the latest webcomic from Tom Scioli's American Barbarian stable, takes the idea of Superman as amoral dirtbag to its greatest (and most violent) extreme. Satan's Soldier is an anti-hero with a comical disregard for his actions, and no one dares to stop him—at least until he meets his polar opposite in the ultimate final battle.
Scioli, who also created American Barbarian and Final Frontier, is an extremely thoughtful cartoonist, one who gives careful attention to language and visual impact. But the comics are inevitably immense fun, and Satan's Soldier, with its otherworldly riff on Superman, is no exception.
Satan's Soldier looks like Superman, but dressed all in red, with red eyes and a pentagram-style reinterpretation of Superman's shield on his chest. He defends places on the Earth not in the name of justice, but because he feels like it. He has a girlfriend, but he's not terrible careful about what becomes of his seed. And when he does battle, it ends with spatters of blood and plenty of heads separated from their bodies. But as Satan's Soldier's antics grow more extreme, he is confronted by his blue shadow—Justice Truth—and becomes locked in a battle that spans the solar system.
Satan's Soldier can appear haphazard at first, especially when compared with American Barbarian. The lines are sketchy, the lettering is hand-scrawled, and it leans heavily on blood splatter. But it adds up to some spectacularly funny moments and a fantastic battle between its two superbeings, filled with heat vision dueling and fingers scraped against nearby planetoids. It appears that this will be a self-contained story rather than a continuing adventure, which means that we'll probably get an ending that connects these characters even more closely with Superman. But knowing Scioli, that ending will come with a smart and surprising twist.