Diabolik is the eponymous Villain Protagonist of a long-running series of Italian comics, created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962. His stories appear in monthly black and white digest-sized booklets. The character was inspired by several previous characters from French and Italian pulp fiction, primarily Fantômas.Diabolik is a ruthless master thief, who was raised as an orphan on the secret island hideout of a criminal combine. There he learned many of his lethal skills, before killing the head of the organisation and escaping. His true name had never been revealed in the series, and he doesn't know it himself, having taken his alias from the name of a dangerous black panther that lived on his childhood island home.In his early appearances, Diabolik was a straightforward villain who did not hesitate to murder anyone in order to accomplish his crimes, but was later shown robbing and killing mainly criminals and other "unsympathetic" types, in order to soften his violence and amorality. From the third issue of the series, Diabolik has been aided by his assistant Eva Kant, who has gained an increasing role as his partner and lover. Throughout his adventures, he is pursued by the relentless Inspector Ginko.Despite, or perhaps because of, his unconventional education, Diabolik seems to have a deep knowledge in many scientific fields, including chemistry, mechanics and computers. He creates all sorts of gadgets, especially disguised weapons and communication devices, has developed a range of truth-serums and mind-control drugs, and creates perfect life-like mask disguises.The Diabolik comic was adapted as the campy film Danger: Diabolik, and also an animated television series. The film has its own entry, but the comic and animated series provide examples of a number of tropes, including:
Alternate Continuity: As of the end of April 2013, Diabolik has officially an alternate continuity, currently including a single story, I Don't Know Who I Am, whose alternate Diabolik is known as Dk to differentiate him from the original. Said continuity has been described by Word of God as what the series would be had the authors been influenced by American comic books instead than Fantomas.
Anyone Can Die: In full effect since 2012, when Gustavo Garian killed himself.
Badass: Diabolik. You can say anything you want about him, but in combat you have to outnumber him five to one and have guns or he will kill you all. Even then he may have some trick to neutralize a lot of people.
Ginko. Not only does he have very good aim, but he can (and has) put Diabolik down with a single uppercut.
Bank Robbery: Very rare: due Diabolik's own presence, banks in Clerville have extremely tight security and layered alarms, checks (including the obligatory pinch on the face for Latex Perfection) and defenses that not even a borderline Impossible Thief like Diabolik can defeat outside of special circumstances, so most of the time Diabolik will try and get the owner to take the jewels or money out of the bank before attempting the heist.
There's also Mila, the woman who, grabbing a once-in-a-lifetime chance, forced Diabolik to take her as one, hoping to replace Eva Kant. Being a smart woman, when it was clear that Diabolik would never leave Eva (and the latter had found her and was royally pissed) Mila let him go and even covered their escape.
Batman Gambit: Both Diabolik and Ginko pull these, but only Diabolik's work.
Berserk Button: You don't touch Eva. If you put yourself against Diabolik, he may decide to kill you, but if you harm Eva you're better hope he's in a hurry...
Police officers get a free pass in harming Eva during a chase or attempting an arrest. But if Diabolik believes they've killed Eva, he'll murder them, or worse.
Eva's buttons are harming defenceless persons and senseless killing of animals (senseless only: she has no problem killing animals when there's nothing else to eat). Last time her button was hit, the hitter was left in a secret vault with no water and no food, only his dead bodyguards, and Eva personally sealed it.
Also, don't harm or (apparently) kill Diabolik. Just don't.
You don't harm Altea, or Ginko will stop following the book and start killing off all the responsible people.
Beware of the Nice Ones: Beware of Altea. She never fears Diabolik, failed to take down a terrorist organization only because Diabolik beat her to it, and when a Corrupt Corporate Executive put a hit on Ginko, she tricked Diabolik into swearing he'd kill him (two nights later, the Corrupt Corporate Executive was found knifed to death and robbed blind, and his criminal activities exposed as a bonus).
Also, Gustavo Garian. Under most circumstances, he's a very nice guy, but if Diabolik is involved and Ginko isn't looking he'll resort to anything to try and kill him, including setting a small army of criminals on him and hiring the world's best assassins.
Bound and Gagged: Usually done to the people Diabolik and Eva impersonate. Happens in numerous episodes of the animated series as well.
Break the Cutie: Elizabeth Gay, Diabolik's lover in the first stories (before he met Eva Kant). A sweet girl who didn't know that her fiancee was Diabolik and accidentally exposed him as the King of Terror, getting him arrested and sentenced to death. After escaping the guillotine, Diabolik waited until she recovered from the near-madness the shock of his identity provoked and then drove her completely mad, even faking the murder of her doctor and new fiancee.
Eva Kant as a child: she was the sweet illegitimate daughter of a nobleman and his maid, but her uncle drove her mother to suicide and sent her to a reform school filled with sadistic teachers.
Break the Haughty: It was hinted for years that Eva did this to her uncle, and what exactly she did to him was shown in a special issue telling her origin story: she married him to get back her last name before telling him who she was, made his life a living hell, and gave him a heart attack. Then, as she was growing bored, he tried to feed her to a panther, but she turned the tables back on him, and the reader finally found out why Eva is so adamant in saying her husband's being killed by a panther was an accident: she was just trying to escape.
Tried by Elizabeth Gay on Diabolik and Eva: years after he drove her mad, she, after recovering enough sanity to leave the hospital, captured Diabolik and tortured him, sending pictures to Eva just to punish Diabolik for picking Eva as his accomplice. Diabolik didn't even acknowledge the torture, Eva freed him, and Elizabeth ended up in an asylum again.
Broken Bird: Eva Kant, of all people: her childhood was hellish. She recovered after getting back at the man responsible for her misfortune and meeting Diabolik.
Butt Monkey: Poor old Ginko must get fed up with constantly being outwitted.
He got it particularly bad in Crumbs for Persons Unknown: not only did his attempt to arrest Diabolik by baiting him with a fake necklace fail miserably, but Diabolik stole the actual necklace from the bank vault it was kept in and the titular unknown persons (who originally aimed to steal the necklace and had fallen for Ginko's trap, resulting in the arrest of one of them) used Diabolik's hole in the vault to break in and steal "Diabolik's crumbs"—a crapload of money, jewels, and securities (and still less than the value of the necklace). Ginko never found out (Diabolik and Eva did by chance, and toasted at them in their own restaurant), and they even shared the loot, with interest, with the arrested accomplice once he was released.
Cardboard Prison: Diabolik has been arrested on more than one occasion. The first time (told in a Whole Episode Flashback) he escaped the day after being put in by walking out from the guards' gate (the cops didn't know his masks existed yet and had arrested him while he wore one just in case, so all he had to do was to kill a guard, steal his uniform, take off the mask and wait for the end of the shift). The second time Ginko had already discovered the masks and caught him completely by surprise, so he was kept in long enough to stand trial and get sentenced to death, but was broken out by Eva (at her debut) three hours before the execution. Since then, he always broke out (or was broken out by Eva) in a couple of days, before Ginko could finish the paperwork for the execution.
Also, it's pretty much impossible keeping Eva imprisoned. The first time they did a good enough job at surveilling her they managed to give her a trial and sentence her to thirty years of jail and Diabolik had to resort to cause a typhoid fever outbreak to break her out, but by now she'll be out in a week at most.
Clear My Name: Diabolik can't tolerate being accused of a crime he didn't commit, so when he's framed for some heist he'll track down the real culprit and give him to Ginko (dead or alive according to his mood). Then he'll steal what he had been accused of stealing in first place.
Ginko too has been framed quite a few times, the first (chronologically) actually being caused by Diabolik by accident (they didn't even knew of each other's existence, at the time, and Ginko only found out who had done the job when he discovered the loot of that heist in one of Diabolik's refuges)
Clingy Jealous Girl: Eva Kant's obsessive jealousy of any other woman who appears to have caught Diabolik's eye is a frequent plot point.
Justified by the fact that becoming Diabolik's lover is literally the one good thing that happened to her.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Sometimes Diabolik's revenges are rather unusual. For example, a convict who had caused the death of a friend of Diabolik by breaking out was drugged to walk back in the prison, where the sadistic warden was pissed at him because his break out had started an inquiry on his actions (the issue ends with a guard wondering if the convict will manage to survive the first week).
Cool Car: A black Jaguar E-Type. In the first stories it was a common Jaguar, formerly owned by Walter Dorian, but with time he started augmenting the engine and adding escape-helping devices.
Also, Eva sometimes drive a Range Rover Evoque. And not any Evoque, but one of the first produced, before it was even available for purchase, that Diabolik stole as a present in a special issue.
Diabolik's Alternate Continuity counterparts drive equally cool cars, all from Jaguar: the one from Danger: Diabolik drives the E-Type like the original, the one from the animated series drives a futuristic car with lines based on the E-Type but colored blue, and Dk drives a black Jaguar F-Type.
Crazy Jealous Guy: Diabolik is obsessively jealous of any other man who appears to have caught Eva's eye, even if not at Eva's own level (he stated that if Eva actually fell in love for another man he'd stand aside, after making sure she's not being coerced, drugged or anything). Still deadly, anyway.
Some of his victims are almost on his level. On one occasion he had to deal with a nearly-impenetrable vault that was usually filled with poisonous gas, and when the owners had to enter and remove the poisonous gas they engaged a series of lethal electric traps and a python (Diabolik still completed the heist, killing the snake in the process).
Cruel Mercy: Diabolik does it once in a while. Sometimes it's because the people he wants revenge against did him a favour and had a good reason, so he'll limit himself to give them a good scare with a temporary death threat (most of those who robbed his treasure were let go without Diabolik doing nothing more than making sure they were crapping themselves in fear of Diabolik's revenge), and sometimes it's because death isn't enough (a guy who kidnapped and harmed Eva was robbed blind and left living in terror believing one day Diabolik would return to kill him. Diabolik never returned).
Case in point: as part of a heist he designed, built and sold to his victim a Diabolik-proof safe. Granted, the safe had an hidden gizmo that would reveal Diabolik the combination, allowing him to open it and steal the jewels the victim had placed inside, but after that was removed the victim had a fully Diabolik-proof safe certified by Diabolik doing his damned best to make sure even he wouldn't be able to open it...
In an inversion, Ginko could be an excellent thief rivaling Diabolik, if he got tired of his job. The story Ginko: Prima di Diabolik (Ginko: Before Diabolik), where we discover his Origin Story, actually shows Ginko learning how to steal as part of his training to become the capable cop we know, and in order to recover evidence against the Villain of the Week (made of the plans for a sophisticated laser and a necklace with an incredibly pure ruby needed to actually build it) he later proceeds to pull a very complex theft, ultimately failing and getting caught only because Diabolik had stolen plans and necklace a few minutes before and didn't bother reactivating the alarms, with Ginko reactivating them when he went to deactivate them.
Death by Origin Story: plenty, and climbing: once a year we have a special issue with a flashback story, and somebody dies.
For Diabolik: his adopted father King, killed by Diabolik himself before he could kill him for the secret of his masks; 'Ronin', the smuggler who taught Diabolik many of the trade secrets, and the fellow members of his organization massacred by mercenaries for looking in the wrong place; Natasha Morgan, Clerville's lady of crime who helped Diabolik settling in exchange of him cutting her a few loose ends before she retired, was kidnapped by King's surviving mooks so she'd lead them to Diabolik, but she crashed the plane and started Diabolik's legend as the King of Terror.
For Eva Kant: her mother was driven to suicide by her uncle (and died in Eva's arms); her father was killed by the same uncle; and the uncle was eaten by the panther he had just set on Eva.
For Ginko: a friend of his father died saving him when he was a child; a friend in the police when he was a young recruit was killed by a corrupt cop.
For Gustavo Garian (Ginko's best friend and assistant in the early stories): his whole family, as Diabolik killed all but one of them as part of the heist of the first story (Gustavo himself barely escaped with his life), and his mother, who Diabolik had driven to madness twice (she had recovered too soon the first time for Diabolik to complete his heist), had a heart attack when she mistook Gustavo for Diabolik. For obvious reasons, Gustavo wants Diabolik dead.
Subverted by Altea, Ginko's fiancee: her husband, the Duke of Vallenberg and a fierce enemy of the terrorists the Grey Ravens, faked his death after learning they were about to target her to hurt him, and returned when she became a target anyway. Later she discovered he was the leader of the Grey Ravens and married her and faked his death to prevent being exposed, but before she could expose Diabolik arrived to settle an old score on him by putting a knife in his neck and exposing him personally.
Decoy Sidekick: In the first few stories, Diabolik (whose real face isn't yet known in-universe) has Elizabeth Gay as fiancee, lover and Unwitting Pawn. Then, in the story L'Arresto di Diabolik (The Arrest of Diabolik), Diabolik meets Eva Kant and they fall in love, and Elizabeth accidentally get Diabolik arrested.
Best shown in the story Earthquake. After being trapped with Diabolik under the ruins of a home destroyed in the titular event, Ginko, in spite of being too wounded to free himself, managed to keep Diabolik in by moving a beam to cause some rubble to fall on a nearly freed Diabolik.
Diabolik himself is no slouch. The above-mentioned story Earthquake give a good example, as he quickly freed himself from the rubble of the home twice: first after the home collapsed and then after Ginko caused the already mentioned collapse to keep him in.
Didn't See That Coming: Diabolik may be Crazy-Prepared and Properly Paranoid, but sometimes he gets in trouble for things he couldn't have expected, like a group of children realizing he had replaced an old man because he had been polite (Eva actually cried "It's impossible!" when that was shown in TV), or an amateur radio operator accidentally finding out the radio frequency he used to keep contact with Eva during his heist because his pet cat played with the radio.
The recent story Il Ritorno di Gustavo Garian (The Return of Gustavo Garian) has an unidentified person hiring three very capable killers and set them on Diabolik. After surviving their first two attempts by sheer luck, Diabolik manages to kill them and discovers their employer: the always honest Gustavo Garian, who, being terminally ill, decided to hire them to kill Diabolik first and then himself. Diabolik's Flat "What." when the culprit confessed expressed both his surprise and the one of the reader.
Once in a while it's someone else who doesn't see Diabolik coming. For example in "The Trade of White Women" the group of human traffickers was completely caught by surprise when Diabolik hit their boat with sleep gas, robbed them blind and sent them into Ginko's hands (the guys they were buying women from had accidentally kidnapped a disguised Eva Kant, hence Diabolik's vengeful visit).
Didn't Think This Through: Periodically you'll have someone who think they can fool or blackmail Diabolik. Most of the times they'll die with embarrassing ease because they didn't think it through (the others still die because they aren't good as Diabolik, but at least he has to actually try).
In one story a guy started hiring people to imitate Diabolik's heists in order to become the greatest thief of the city, and actually succeeded in trapping Diabolik when he tracked him and arrived to exact his revenge. Then Diabolik invoked the trope by pointing out he wasn't prepared for Eva. Guess who, in that very panel, was standing behind the imitator aiming a poison needle-launcher at his neck?
In another story, the media discovered about Diabolik and Eva's affection for a little girl called Bettina, and a gang decided to kidnap her in order to blackmail Diabolik. After finding the corpses of the gang members who had not been blown up, Ginko casually stated that next time people will think twice before trying anything with Bettina.
He was right: the next time someone tried anything with Bettina it was a mob boss who wanted to take revenge on Diabolik by using the deaths of his friends to bait him, and his hitman was very good. It's just that Diabolik was better.
In No Mercy for Scum, one-shot character Gianfranco Forles was arrested for killing his father with a paper knife. When Diabolik broke him out, as it had been Diabolik to apparently kill his father and he had been in the wrong place at the wrong moment, what did Gianfranco do? Why, using the time Diabolik was busy distracting the police to bash Eva on the head, call the police and then run with the jewels (both his father's and the loot of some of Diabolik's previous heists). And it's made even worse when the autopsy showed that Diabolik had not killed Gianfranco's father, but had been Gianfranco himself pushing the knife deeper in the wound (and being caught as he took it out claiming he was trying to save him). Ginko's face as he found out was an unspoken invocation of the trope, and, just as he anticipated, the issue ended with Diabolik killing him with a Title Drop and then calling the police to confess so they'll find the body faster.
Doesn't Like Guns: Villainous example: Diabolik finds them too noisy, and never uses them. Eva averts this: while she normally uses needle-throwers provided by Diabolik, she will use them if the badder guys drop them and she has nothing else.
The Dog Bites Back: Elizabeth Gay had been driven mad by Diabolik and Eva's Kick the Dog moment. Years later a now apparently sane Elizabeth would capture Diabolik, torture him and send pictures to Eva in revenge before being stopped and sent back to the asylum... From which she managed to cause her husband to make a nearly successful attempt at Diabolik's life.
In Il Tesoro di Diabolik (Diabolik's Treasure) four of his victims (an art critic whose engagement was accidentally ruined by Diabolik as he stole her family's heirloom, a government-backed scientist whose assistant and fiancee Diabolik revealed as a foreign spy while stealing his research, a former cop that Diabolik drugged into committing a murder and stealing for him, and a billionaire that Diabolik had almost bankrupted) ally together to take their revenge on Diabolik: rob him of the titular treasure, composed of those loots that were of insanely huge value, he liked as a collector or for other reasons (like a golden Venus statue that looked like Eva) or were symbols of what he could pull (like an enormous platinum disk so huge that was supposed to be impossible to steal or the stuffed panther from which he took his name). Diabolik's face when he finds out that his treasure had been completely stolen save for the panther is priceless.
In The Return of Gustavo Garian we see what happens when Gustavo decides to take revenge for Diabolik killing his father, driving his mother mad and stealing his family fortune: he sets on him three of the best killers in the world. Diabolik not only barely survived, but completely failed to expect such an attack from him.
The Dreaded: Diabolik is called the King of Terror because he's already terrifying when he's not actively trying to scare you, and makes good use of his fame. He has even driven to madness at least two people...
Dressing as the Enemy: Diabolik has disguised himself as a policeman or Ginko himself on dozens of occasions, while Eva disguised herself as Altea or a cop a few times.
Easy Amnesia: happened to Diabolik and at least three times to Eva Kant. Played with in a story in which an amnesiac Eva Kant was actually an actress: plastic surgery made her identical to Eva Kant and amnesia would conveniently explain why she was not herself.
Enemy Mine: Diabolik and Ginko have occasionally forged uneasy alliances.
Engineered Public Confession: Diabolik has done it a few times. In a particularly epic case, the villain of the story was tricked in confessing being the former head of a disbanded terrorist group on live radio, with one of the listeners being Ginko who was driving to work (implying he was arrested a few minutes later).
Even Evil Has Standards: Diabolik and Eva always keep their word and pay their debts, and don't deal with drugs nor kill as long as they have another option. Also, Diabolik doesn't hurt children if he can help it, and is disgusted by wife-beaters.
Eva will never hurt children or animals, and keeps Diabolik from doing so every time she can. Also, she's a merciless and sadistic Wife-Basher Basher (and Diabolik will help).
Diabolik and Eva are apparently well known for not tolerating prostitution rings and slave trade, as the one time a group of slave traders realized Diabolik had stumbled on them they expected to be murdered in their sleep as soon as he had stolen what he was there for. They were only partly right: Diabolik did take them down, but until they pissed him off even more he just intended to tie them up and call the police.
Evil Gloating: Diabolik sometimes does it in Ginko's face, or to the opponent of the story. Being Dangerously Genre Savvy, he'll either do it through a radio or a video message from far away or his interlocutor is his prisoner and has been searched for anything that could allow him to turn it back on him.
Ginko subverts it: he likes to gloat about his rare victories against Diabolik, but limits himself to talk about it to Altea or Gustavo Garian because he may need to recycle the trick one day.
Evil Mentor: Diabolik grew up on an island inhabited by some of the best criminals of the world, and from them learned a good part of the trade, how to fight and how to drive. Before arriving in Clerville, he temporarily joined the organization of 'Ronin' (the greatest smuggler in the world), where he perfected his driving and fighting skills and learned the basics of his infamous tricks and how you really throw a knife (when they met, Diabolik could almost hit a bullseye from ten meters after taking a careful aim, Ronin could hit the bullseye ten times out of ten without aiming, and taught him how to do so), and once in Clerville he was mentored in how to be a Magnificent Bastard by Natasha Morgan, then the absolute queen of organized crime of the city.
Diabolik himself was one, both for Eva (who learned a few of his skills) and Mila, a thief who, upon saving his life, tied him to a bed and forced him to teach her the trade.
Expy: The initial main characters are inspired by Fantômas and contemporaries: Diabolik is based on Fantômas himself, Gustavo Garian's origin story sports many similarities with Jérôme Fandor's, Ginko has the same role as Juve, and Lady Eva Kant's debut includes her saving Diabolik from execution in the same way Lady Maud Beltham saved Fantômas in the first novel.
Faking the Dead: Diabolik and Eva have faked the death of one or both of them in multiple occasions.
Averted in the nick of time by Ginko in L'Arresto di Diabolik (The Arrest of Diabolik) and its remake: Diabolik and Eva planned to have her Stalker with a Crush executed while wearing a Diabolik mask and then cremated to fake his death, but Ginko realized it was a fake just as the victim was beheaded, and both his continued survival and Eva's help were exposed.
A Fate Worse Than Death: Elizabeth Gay, who had caused Diabolik's true face to become known and nearly got him executed, was driven to madness by Diabolik, who knew she was terrified by madness.
Felony Misdemeanor: Happens in the short stories, which offer us gems like Eva invoking the death sentence for the author of a piece of art of doubtful taste, or Ginko wondering who hated him so much when Diabolik mailed him that piece of art.
Fictional Country: The stories were originally set in and around Marseille, but the setting was quickly Retconned in the State of Clerville (that incidentally has a small town named Marseilleto explain the early mentions of the French city), plus occasional transfers to the bordering nations of Benglait (originally a turbulent kingdom on the verge of civil war, now a stable republic whose issue with the terrorist organization The Grey Ravens was solved by their leader pissing off Diabolik and getting a knife in the neck for it) and Rennert (nothing known about it save that borders with Benglait and Clerville and that is apparently less corrupt than the latter) or other distant fictional countries (most notable being Deccan—not the plateau but a Banana Republic inhabited by Chinese-looking people—a recurrent location of Diabolik's past). The only known real place mentioned and never retconned is Italy, as the minor recurring character Alberto Floriani is identified as Italian in his debut and a few short stories are set in Italian towns (these stories are created to celebrate expositions on Diabolik in the same town).
Frameup: At times, Diabolik, Eva, Ginko and Altea have been framed for a crime they didn't commit. Framing Diabolik invariably ends badly.
Framing the Guilty Party: once in a while, somebody tries to frame Diabolik for their own thefts. Ginko will usually find their corpse, evidence proving Diabolik didn't do it and, sometimes, that Diabolik, after proving he didn't commit the thefts, still took the stolen goods (sometimes he was trying to steal it to begin with but the framer beat him to it).
In a story, three mooks at their first heist named Gastone, Elietta, and Filippo, tried to steal a golden necklace during a party, with Gastone wearing a Diabolik-like suit to frame Diabolik. They failed, as not only the necklace was a fake (the real one still being in a bank vault) but Gastone walked in a trap intended for the actual Diabolik (who was stealing the necklace from the safe after bombing the party's site with fireworks to distract the police). It's probably the only time attempting to frame Diabolik ended well: Gastone didn't rat out his accomplices, who, due sheer luck, managed to follow Diabolik and steal money and jewels from the now-open vault (the story title was Crumbs for Unknown Persons, with the stolen goods being called 'Diabolik's crumbs' in-story) and divided the loot (with interest) with Gastone once he served his sentence. The only ones who could prove their crime are Diabolik and Eva... who ended the story toasting at their success.
Even Ginko, of all people, did it once. The bodies of an elderly and a child were found in the basement of one of Diabolik's refugees (one that Diabolik preferred not to use), and Ginko, while knowing that Diabolik couldn't be their murderer, publicily accused him of killing them to have Eva break with him and get Diabolik, desperate to prove Eva he didn't do it, lead him to the real culprit, at which point he'd arrest Diabolik (and the culprit, assuming he survived) without Eva interfering until too late. It worked to near perfection: Eva left Diabolik and the King of Terror did lead him to the murderer (who didn't survive the encounter after confessing), but Eva realized the ruse and saved Diabolik at the last moment.
Gambit Pileup: Once in a while, Eva and Diabolik have a fight that results in Diabolik trying a heist alone and Eva trying the same heist to one-up him. Then we're treated to such things as Eva and Diabolik deciding the person that the other was impersonating had to die, Ginko interfering in a heist against a mafia boss forcing Diabolik to frame someone else in order to not be discovered only to find out Eva framed him by pure chance, and all the rest.
Genre Savvy: Diabolik, Eva, Ginko and Altea, and occasionally other characters. Said other characters tend to be Overshadowed by Awesome. They're checking if Eva carries weapons or other tricks? They will get her to let her hair down, suspecting she's keeping something in her bun, but they won't check if the hair is the trick.
Genre Savvyness is particularly diffused among honest police officers: upon finding a crime with something absurd or a man killed by a thrown knife, they call Ginko in the off chance it's Diabolik. And if they're right, Diabolik is in a hurry because he's Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to know Ginko is going to confirm his involvement and show up any minute.
Hammer Space: That's where Diabolik keeps his knives when wearing his skin-tight suit. Diabolik even lampshaded it once.
Young fan: "I know everything of Diabolik!"
Diabolik in disguise: "I bet there's something you don't know."
Young fan: "Impossible!"
Diabolik in disguise: "Where does he keep his knives when he wears the suit?"
Hello, Nurse!: Diabolik was caught forcing himself to not drool at the first sight of three women: Elizabeth Gay (who, appropriately enough, was an actual nurse in a psychiatric hospital when she debuted), Eva Kant (who had to kill Stalkers With A Crush on too many occasions to count, and is regarded in-universe as one of the most beautiful women of the world), and Natasha Morgan (who has actually weaponized her sex appeal, augmented by the evening dress she always wears, to perform her Dying Moment of Awesome).
Honor Before Reason: Averted: Diabolik always keeps his promises and takes revenge on his enemies, but he does it in a way that will allow Eva and him to survive.
Some of Diabolik's enemies are this, and that makes Diabolik's victory easier. Then there's the mob boss Holtz, who defends a necklace targeted by Diabolik to save his face until Diabolik's attempt gets the necklace lost, and when he learns that he can still get back the necklace and possibly kill Diabolik he shoots the man who gave him the news: dealing with Diabolik was ruining his health, and as long as nobody else knew it he'd let him keep the accursed necklace.
Impossible Thief: A particularly funny example of Diabolik's impossible-to-achieve-thefts comes from Il Tesoro di Diabolik; it opens with a guard stating that the platinum disk he was guarding was too big and heavy to be stolen and the following panel had Diabolik start stealing it.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Ginko. He's good enough to shoot the gun of a crook as he tries and pulls it on him, and his sessions at the shooting range have terrified more than anyone due the casual ease with which he hits a bullseye after bullseye and he considers it not bad.
Insistent Terminology: Whenever her husband's death at the jaws of a panther is recalled, Eva will specify it was an accident. Justified as her husband was trying to get her eaten by the panther, but Eva, defending herself, ended up accidentally setting the panther on him without even trying.
Instant Sedation: Drugged darts, gas-bombs, knock-out sprays etc. if Diabolik or Eva want someone alive. Poison equivalents otherwise.
The Grey Ravens deserve special mention. Diabolik hates them with passion since that time they managed to capture him and decided to torture him believing he had stolen something they wanted, and will strike them whenever he has an excuse (in their three encounters Diabolik has killed many of them, robbed them blind and decapitated their organization twice). They are Western Terrorists who have committed a large number of massacres and aim to take over Benglait and install a fascist government, and are always trying to start a civil war to justify it.
Kangaroo Court: Diabolik was sentenced to death by one. True, he was guilty of the charges and nobody ever tried to deny it, but, as pointed out by an anti-death penalty activist, at the time there was yet no evidence that he was Diabolik or even that Diabolik existed at all, and he was sentenced to death only due to Ginko's guess, the testimony of a madwoman (the widow Garian, whom Diabolik had driven to madness) and a scorned lover of unstable mind (Elizabeth Gay, who was nearly driven mad by the shock even before Diabolik decided that it would be a fitting revenge). The one crime he did confess to, the murder of Walter Dorian—committed in order to impersonate him due to their incredible resemblance—had not only been committed in another country and thus couldn't be punished by Clerville's law, but it was later discovered that Dorian had survived. On top of all that, Diabolik's defense attorney, pressured by public opinion, did a very crappy job. As the activist pointed out, there had to be a retrial (she hoped Diabolik would get life imprisonment), for both the murders on which Diabolik had originally been sentenced and of which there was little evidence, and everything he did after Eva broke him out, for which there was enough evidence to sentence him to death or life imprisonment five or six times.
Karmic Thief: Diabolik tends to steal more from criminals than from honest people. Justified due honest people usually keeping their jewels and gems inside bank vaults that Diabolik can only rarely penetrate (said heists usually consist in Diabolik trying to convince his victim to take the target out of the vault and then jumping them) and criminals keeping their ill-gotten treasures in locations that are relatively vulnerable.
Kick the Dog: The story Atroce Vendetta ('Atrocious Revenge') is a massive Kick the Dog moment for Diabolik and Eva Kant: in the very previous story Elizabeth Gay, then the fiancee of Diabolik's secret identity, had accidentally found one of his hideouts and denounced it to the police, causing Diabolik's arrest and death sentence (he survived only because Eva Kant, that he had just met, swapped him for a Jerkass Victim one hour before the execution), and as revenge they drove her mad with a series of nocturnal apparition of Diabolik (mistaken for allucinations because there was no way for Diabolik to reach her refuge. Apart the tunnel he built as she was moving there...) culminating in the fake execution of her new fiancee.
Killed Off for Real: Most characters killed actually died, but the most shocking is Gustavo Garian, a recurring character and the very first named character to appear in the series, even before Diabolik himself.
Killer Rabbit: At first glance Eva is nothing more than a tall and beautiful woman. She has dropped men four times her size bare handed. She also goes around equipped with cyanide needle launchers, and is a crack shot.
Knife Nut: Diabolik's favourite weapon. He always carries at least two.
Only Diabolik knows how to create the plastic to make them, and once in a while someone tries to steal either the masks or the formula.
In this series the existence of Diabolik's masks has caused the appearance of the logical counter of pinching people's face to check for them (Diabolik's attempts at fooling these checks and Ginko convincing arrogant idiots targeted by Diabolik to allow him the checks are regular plot points), with one story having the appeareance of a machine capable of detecting them (the scientist and the machine didn't survive the story).
Master of Disguise: Both Diabolik himself and Eva Kant. They normally use Latex Perfection, but they can do almost as well with more traditional methods (almost as well meaning they can fool anyone but Ginko).
McNinja: Diabolik typically wears a skin-tight black hooded suit that leaves only his eyes exposed.
Justified in a recent story as a way to honor one of his late mentors: in his martial arts school, part of Ronin's criminal organization, you had to wear a more traditional ninja uniform and never expose your face, and after accidentally getting his face exposed during a lesson, Diabolik decided the best way to prevent it from happening again was to put together his trademark suit as an alternative uniform. After first showing up with that, his teacher decided to teach him a lesson, but Diabolik managed to defeat him and gained his approval for the first time.
Meaningful Background Event: Il Re del Terrore-Il Remake (a remake of the very first story) starts the 'flashback'-part of the story (where an older Gustavo Garian remembers the events of the original adventure) with a party at the 'Castle of Mart', and you can see an unmasked Diabolik among the waiters in many panels, even serving a drink to Gustavo himself. As Ginko later realizes, that's the moment when Diabolik drugs Gustavo as part of his plan to steal a collection of knives from him.
Meaningful Name: Diabolik derives from 'diabolico', meaning 'devilish'. In a complicated example, it's revealed that Diabolik originally was the name of an extremely ferocious panther that King, Diabolik's father figure, had killed and kept as a trophy, and when a then nameless Diabolik killed him in self-defense his last words were an open comparison with the panther, prompting him to take the name.
Eva Kant has two. Her first name is Italian for Eve, and Eva is Diabolik's only woman. Her last name Kant is an allusion to both her German-ish looks (in a time where a gorgeous woman in Italian comic books would have been of clear mediterranean origins) and a Shout-Out to the philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Unintentional example: Altea means 'healer', and she's the only one who can (temporarily) heal Ginko from his obsession over Diabolik.
Subverted by Ginko: his name is made up even in-universe. Nobody who knows his real name is still alive, and he won't tell.
Meet Cute: Eva and Diabolik first encounter occurred when she returned to her hotel room and caught him stealing the Pink Diamond from the room's safe, with Diabolik immediately threatening her with a knife. They fell in love in less than four pages of dialogue.
Mind Control: Diabolik and Eva use hypnotic drugs to induce cooperation from their victims.
Ms. Fanservice: Eva tends to appear in bikini and skimpy night gowns quite often...
Mugging the Monster: Once in a while, a thug will mug Diabolik and Eva Kant, get the crap beaten out of him and have a massive freak out when he discovers who he tried to mug.
In L'Arresto di Diabolik-Il Remake (a remake of the stories L'Arresto di Diabolik ('The Arrest of Diabolik') and Atroce Vendetta ('Atrocious Revenge')), a garden-variety thug tried to mug a beautiful but apparently harmless blonde woman who had just left the airport. Eva Kant (who still had to meet Diabolik) dropped him like a potato sack, scaring the crap out of the witnesses (and impressing Diabolik himself, who was there disguised as Ginko). And then she jokingly told the fake Ginko she supposed that Diabolik was a bit more dangerous than that idiot...
The best part? Eva was trying to let him go after the first strike, she just wanted to keep her purse (not because of what was inside, but because she liked it). But the thug didn't get the message, so she had to drop him (and called him an idiot for not running). Lightly, as she was still trying to let him go. But the thug still tried to take the purse, at which point she had enough and knocked him out.
One particularly glorious example of this is the story In the Serpent's Coils. In retaliation for the arrest of his son, an important drug dealer killed the wife of the Corrupt Cop that was supposed to warn about operations against him and kidnapped Ginko to be exchanged for his son. What nobody knew was that the wife of the cop had saved Eva Kant's life (who had a car accident), and thus had no idea for why Diabolik went all the trouble to break his son out and exchange him for Ginko until he got killed by the killing/tracking device Diabolik had placed on his son. Diabolik then completed his revenge by showing up, killing anyone stupid enough to try and stop him and stealing gems for millions.
Another instance is the story Poisons' Island. A young journalist was murdered by a multinational company to prevent her from exposing their release of toxic wastes in the environment. As it happened, the journalist had saved Diabolik's life a few years earlier, and he went all the trouble to investigate her death, discover the crime, expose it and kill everyone involved in her murder, finishing the job by planting a bomb on the escape plane of the company head, steal his chute and then warn him of what was about to happen when he tried to escape from Diabolik.
My God, What Have I Done?: Happens to Ginko in one story, when Eva starts kidnapping people with the same blood type as Diabolik. Deducing that Diabolik was injured in a way that needed a lot of blood to heal but that Eva could treat on her own, he bugs the targeted blood donor in the attempt to find Diabolik. Eva finds it out and stops the kidnappings, so Ginko consoles himself that at least he stopped the kidnappings at five people... Then he finds out Diabolik's injury: radiation poisoning, that could be treated only with a complete blood transfusion, for which Eva needed a lot of blood. Blood that she could have taken in standard blood donors' doses from twenty or thirty people, as Eva originally planned, or by draining all the blood from five or six people, as Ginko forced her to do.
In-universe, Diabolik is a double case: not only the name Diabolik keeps his origins, but it was the name of a panther so ferocious that had actually chased away a party of a dozen hunters before being lured in an ambush and killed by King (Diabolik's adopted father). King accidentally baptized the protagonist with his last words: "You attacked me! Like the panther! Like Diabolik".
Clotilde Luger, the headmistress of a boarding school theoretically for poor and orphans but in fact used by rich and important people to get rid of illegitimate children and other annoying minor relatives. Eva, having been sent there (and being one of the few to successfully escape), can testify the physical and psychological abuse the students were subjected to (including little food on normal meals, beatings for the minor infractions and being imprisoned in a dark room with one meal every two days for even two weeks at a time for more serious offenses), but she only discovered the worst many years after escaping.
Never Recycle Your Schemes: Done by Diabolik and Justified, as the next time Ginko will be ready and defeat them. Best shown by Diabolik's own masks, one of the few gadgets he actually recycles: as soon as Ginko found out about them, pinching someone's face to check for a mask became standard procedure for anything in which Diabolik may be involved.
In one story, this serves to Ginko to realize that there's a Diabolik copycat around: the heists are in Diabolik's style, but the schemes are recycled. He was preparing to shut him down precisely by applying knowledge of the old schemes and gadgets when the actual Diabolik found him.
Occasionally Ginko does recycle a defensive scheme, but that's only as long as nobody finds out what he actually did, because otherwise Diabolik would find a way to bypass it... As shown for the mask checks, occasionally bypassed with wigs and theatrical make-up.
No Name Given: Diabolik and Ginko. Diabolik's birth name is unknown even to him, as his parents died before he learned it, and the inhabitants of King's Island called him 'The Boy' until a dying King called him with the name of the ferocious panther Diabolik. For Ginko it's a little more complicated: nobody ever says his first name because he ditched it, alongside his family's name (replaced by the one he's known as), to denounce his father, a corrupt judge.
No Social Skills: Played with. Ginko has social skills, but tends to be too honest for his own good. He hates parties due the crap that happens to him every time he's at one—Diabolik and more violent thieves showing up are some of the lesser things he's had to deal at such social events; even the one time Eva bombed the location to create a distraction is small potatoes when compared to some things that have happened to him at parties. Incidentally, being both Altea's fiancee and the one guy who can give Diabolik a desperate run for his money on a regular basis, he's invited to half of the parties in Clerville and is sent to the other half to protect some jewel from Diabolik.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Once in a while a minor character is mistaken for too stupid to be of any danger, only to reveal he's smarter than he seems and a threat to Diabolik. The best example is Milo Arkin, who fooled Diabolik twice and got away with it (it helped he was smart enough to make sure Diabolik didn't get in any danger in the process and paid what economic damage he caused).
In the original version of The Arrest of Diabolik Eva seemed just a Rich Idiot with No Day Job, albeit one very smart and brave enough to face Diabolik without any fear. Then she broke Diabolik out of prison and had her Stalker with a Crush executed in his place.
Altea seems pretty harmless, as once remarked by the boss of the Grey Ravens terrorists, her husband. Cue Altea holding him at gunpoint and revealing she had seen through his charade.
Off with His Head!: In Clerville death sentences are executed via guillotine. Every time Diabolik is arrested the police needs only to file the paperwork to try and behead him, as when he stood trial he got sentenced to death, and not even an abolitionist lawyer appealing on his behalf could change it. Actually beheading him, on the other hand, is quite complicated...
Oh, Crap: Happens when a Jerkass Victim learns that he accidentally provoked Diabolik, or when they challenge him and they realize he's about to kill them. Also, when a civilian or a cop, for whatever reason, finds himself face to face with Diabolik.
On one occasion two scammers sold four fake emeralds to four different banks. Then one night they were rudely awakened by a pissed off Diabolik, who wanted to know why the emeralds he had managed to steal in one night were all fakes, at which point the scammers were almost too scared to even talk. Luckily, Diabolik could take their place and get a refund for the supposedly stolen goods from the banks, so he decided to spare them and even left them the true emerald they had used for the scam on condition they stayed the hell out of his way (they ran to another country).
The story Il Re del Terrore: Il Remake was a remake of the first story that filled a few plot holes and made clear exactly what Diabolik stole from Gustavo Garian.
In Il Re del Terrore: Il Remake we are treated to a rumor of Diabolik having blown up an airplane to kill a single passenger, correlated by a picture of an airliner exploding, and the story Io Sono Diabolik shows what exactly happened: the last of Diabolik's mentors, Natasha Morgan, had been kidnapped by a group of King's followers and was on board to help them track Diabolik, but she managed to crash the plane (not an airliner) after forcing the pilot to make a distress call mentioning Diabolik to make him the King of Terror, thus gaining a powerful psychological advantage.
Finally, the story L'Arresto di Diabolik: il Remake is a remake, with filled plot holes, of the stories L'Arresto di Diabolik and Atroce Vendetta.
OOC Is Serious Business: When Eva stops snarking and starts screaming for blood or Ginko is willing to resort to the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, you know there's something terribly wrong. A situation that caused both reactions was the discovery of a child pornography ring, with Eva and Diabolik unwittingly helping the escape of the ringleader (who personally kidnapped and raped children to produce the pornography before murdering them).
Out-Gambitted: Happens fairly often. Usually Diabolik does it to Ginko or the newest victim, sometimes Ginko outgambits Diabolik, and in one memorable occasion a one-time character managed to outgambit her family, Diabolik, Ginko (who was the only one who realized it but had no evidence) and even herself (her plan called for her to denounce the dishonest owner of a casino and then warn him anonymously of the denounce. He reacted placing an hit on her and her family, as they were the only one with the reasons to denounce him).
Diabolik himself has been in the overshadowed role in the years between his escape from the Island of King and the first story: in the period he had been in the Far East he found himself outmatched as a Knife Nut and Crazy-Prepared by the smuggler Ronin (who, as Diabolik had killed an enemy of his, decided to take him under his wing, teaching him how to fight, throw a knife, and prepare tricks to cover his escape) and as a martial artist by Ronin's right hand (who, as a manner of saying hello to the young man he had just been ordered to train, knocked him down with embarrasing ease and told him to not to speak unless spoken to), and when he first arrived in Clerville using the identity of the supposedly late Walter Dorian he was kidnapped by Natasha Morgan, who had a grudge with the real Dorian and recognized Diabolik as a lookalike after looking him in the eyes (after they decided it was more productive to be allies, Natasha taught him how to move in the great and corrupt city of Clerville and play on his enemies' psychological weaknesses, even anticipating his rise as the King of Terror).
Painted-On Pants: Diabolik in his trademark suit has been described as looking as a naked man painted black.
Police Are Useless: Ginko and his colleagues are outwitted again and again. Super-cop Ginko has managed to defeat Diabolik on several occasions, and even arrested him a few times, but the authorities are never able to hold him long enough to execute him (he has a death sentence since his third story, when he stood trial. That was the time they held him the longest), often owing to widespread corruption among other police officers, prison guards etc. who succumb to bribery on a routine basis.
Pragmatic Villainy: Diabolik may be the King of Terror, but as long as you aren't in his way he'll leave you alone (or at most will steal from you). Also, he was willing to destroy a biological weapon instead of reselling it because Eva asked him to due the inherent dangers of such a weapon (not just in handling it), and he didn't only because the weapon's creator destroyed it himself before committing suicide.
A few bosses of the local organized crime refrain from mass murders and selling drugs to kids because it enrages the public opinion and calls for more attention from the police. In one occasion, an old retired boss went so far he helped Ginko taking down two other bosses who were having a mafia war.
Prim and Proper Bun: Eva's hairdo of choice. She used to wear her hair as ponytail in her youth, but wore them in a bun to increase her resemblance with her mother when she confronted her murderer (who also happened to be Eva's uncle, that she had married to get her last name back). She caused him a heart attack, and wore her hair that way since.
Properly Paranoid: occasionally a criminal realizes he provoked Diabolik into wanting him dead and adopts more precautions than Batman would consider sufficient. They weren't paranoid enough, as none of them survived.
A particularly egregious example comes from the story A Bloody Red Treasure, in which a corrupt cop captures Eva to blackmail Diabolik into working for him before being arrested and jailed. Every time he sees a man, he stays away fearing he's Diabolik, getting mocked by the guards... Only for a remote controlled mechanical bird to poison him!!! For bonus points, the guards had just told him that only birds could reach him...
Another example: a Corrupt Corporate Executive has just learned that he had a friend of Diabolik killed, and the titular criminal is out for him. He jumps on a plane piloted by himself to escape for destination unknown... And as soon as he's in flight Diabolik tells him on the radio he's about to blow up the plane and stole the parachute. Yes, he had boobytrapped the escape vehicle before the victim learned Diabolik was out for him.
The very first, that set the tone for the whole series, comes from the first issue. After a chase Ginko finds Diabolik's car abandoned near a crop field and deduces that Diabolik had escaped in the minute he took to check the car. Then he sees a group of scarecrows, and shoots them just to make sure the King of Terror wasn't hidden in one of them, and, after seeing no man falling down wounded or dead, leaves. Diabolik was hidden in one of the scarecrows, and Ginko actually shot him in the arm!
After the Grey Ravens tried to steal the Crown Jewels, the king of Benglait had them moved to the Benglait embassy in Clerville, in case the next theft would realize what the final defence was. It was just in time to foil Diabolik's first attempt at stealing them.
Put on a Bus: Gustavo Garian, the oldest recurring character (appearing even before Diabolik himself, and introducing him to the reader) and Ginko's original confidant and sidekick, wasn't very liked by the Giussani sisters, so he was slowly replaced as confidant by Altea and then quietly dropped. After returning with a marginal role he was dropped again, not reappearing for twenty years (real time), showing up in two stories published in 2001 and 2002 (the latter giving him back an important role) and then disappearing until the 2012 story The Return of Gustavo Garian.
Bus Crash: Gustavo kills himself at the end of The Return of Gustavo Garian.
Red Shirt: Diabolik has killed a lot of nameless policemen and other mooks over the years.
Refuge in Audacity: Happens once un a while, with the crowners being Ginko preventing Diabolik from stealing some statues by stealing them first and hiding them in the museum they were supposed to go once the security was upgraded (this story was titled Mocking Diabolik), Diabolik spying on Ginko by bugging the bullets of his gun, and a corrupt prison guard kidnapping Eva for ransom and hiding her in jail (this one was even lampshaded by the guard, who openly asked Eva who would ever search for her in a jail).
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Played with. Before his face was known Diabolik used the identity of Walter Dorian, who, while rich, had a company specialized in the import-export of art pieces (also a cover for smuggling since before Diabolik stole the identity). After, Diabolik tends to create fake identities as Rich Idiots With No Day Job for Eva and himself, at least to get some of their refuges or to go to some vacation. Also Eva tried to pass herself as one before becoming Diabolik's accomplice... Except she immediatly ruined the charade when an idiot tried to steal her purse and she beat the crap out of him.
Ripped from the Headlines: A funny example happened in 2002, as Clerville's currency always had the same value of the Italian Lira and Italy was replacing it with Euro. Cue a story where Clerville replaced its own currency with Euro and Diabolik having to find a way to legally change his soon to be worthless money in the new currency (and Eva stealing an Euroconverter to help him adapt to the new money).
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: cross Diabolik, and he WILL find and kill you, even after years (as the leader of the Grey Ravens would testify if it wasn't for that knife in the neck). Hurt Eva or one of his few friends, and you better pray he's in a hurry or he'll do worse than kill you, before telling the media what happens when you do so much to look his friends the wrong way.
Diabolik found himself at the receiving end of two of those: in Il Tesoro di Diabolik (Diabolik's Treasure) a group of past victims of his banded together to make him suffer by stealing his favourite loots, while in L'Ombra del Giustiziere (The Shadow of the Avenger) the wife of a prison guard whose life had been ruined by Eva to save Diabolik's life back in one of the first stories reasoned that the authorities and Ginko were actually accomplices of the King of Terror and started bombing the city to force them to arrest and execute him.
Also, her late husband Federico, the Duke of Vallenberg: cousin of the king, he too had useful suggestions to stop the economic crisis, and before being eaten by a shark was on the frontline in the fight against the Grey Ravens. Except that he was the Grey Ravens leader and trying to provoke a civil war that would have put him on the throne, and faked his death when he realized he was about to be found out.
Sadistic Choice: Rare, but happens. For example, in one occasion a group of temporary allies of Diabolik found a traitor among them and told him to choose between facing Diabolik or running to his freedom by passing trough a gallery that hosted a colony of rats. He choose the gallery, that offered a slim chance of survival, but got a Family-Unfriendly Death.
Seen It All: Ginko evolved into this due his many encounters with Diabolik. A thief uses sleep gas? Already seen. Drugs to brainwash someone? Diabolik once gassed the whole police corps so that they'll give him a treasure. By now nothing surprises him anymore...
Serious Business: Tend to appear in the short stories, where it's usually played for laughs.
When the main Italian radio announced a series of shows on Diabolik, there was a short story where Eva and Altea infiltrated the studios (separately) and checked the tapes to make sure everyone was in-character. It's implied they were ready to destroy them if there was OOC-ness...
The story Uno Stradivari per Eva Kant (A Stradivarius for Eva Kant) had Diabolik temporarily move in the Italian city of Cremona to steal a Stradivarius with three diamonds in it. When he succeeded, the mayor was pissed because Diabolik had stolen the violin, and when Diabolik gave it back he didn't care in the slightest that the King of Terror had kept the diamonds (that's Truth in Television, by the way: the people of Cremona love their violins, especially the ones made by the great local violin makers of the past).
Shadow Archetype: Diabolik and Ginko are this for each other: both go by an assumed name (Diabolik doesn't know his true name, Ginko changed it to distance from his corrupt judge father), both are highly unconventional but very effective in their respective careers (Ginko sometimes goes so far as making use of Diabolik's masks and tools confiscated after one of his heists or in a raid on one of his hideouts), both are really good in their rival's career as part of the reason they're so good in their respective jobs (Diabolik proved a few times that he'd be a magnificent detective if he so chose, and Ginko made use of his cat-burglar skills to acquire evidence against a criminal), both are very loyal to their beloved and could be as well as married to them if they only wanted (Diabolik and Eva could slip to a country where they aren't wanted and marry there, while Ginko and Altea don't even need that. Both couples just don't feel the need to marry), and God helps you if you earn their revenge (Ginko will find you and shoot to cripple or kill instead that to scare you into submission, while Diabolik will find and kill you if you're lucky). Ginko even looks like a more generic Diabolik...
Likewise their lovers, Eva and Altea: both are far stronger-willed than you'd expect from a first glance, both are noblewomen who go by their late husbands' last names (the difference being in that Eva's last name should have been Kant anyway, but she was illegitimate and had to marry her father's cousin to get it), both are the indirect cause of their respective husbands' deaths in which Diabolik is somehow involved (Altea accidentally led Diabolik to her husband, who had been on his shit list for years, while Eva accidentally set on her husband the panther that he tried to set on her (Diabolik took his name from a panther, and sometimes he uses the panther as a symbol), both are very loyal to their lovers and would do anything to protect or avenge them (Altea, an otherwise honest woman, even set a hitman on a mob boss who was trying to get Ginko killed, and upon noticing that Diabolik had killed and replaced the hitman she managed to set Diabolik on the mob boss), and both are among the very few people who have managed to identify Diabolik under the masks.
Eva Kant has another one in the form of post-asylum Elizabeth Gay: after the asylum she became a much darker version of Eva in her Clingy Jealous Girl moments, both in character and skills (she even managed to recognize Diabolik under his mask—not by some hint that he wasn't the person he had replaced, but by his eyes), and is still very much in love with Diabolik (before slipping definitely into madness, she admits to her husband that her revenge on Diabolik wasn't for causing her first bout of insanity, but for taking Eva as accomplice and lover). Fittingly, it's Eva who defeats her and frees Diabolik.
Shed the Family Name: Ginko shed both his original family name and his original personal name to distance himself from his father, a corrupt judge.
Subverted by Altea: she proudly claims both her original family name of Von Waller and the one of her late husband the Duke of Vallenberg in spite of having very good reasons to shed her husband's.
While the Retcon of the setting from Marseille to the fictional Clerville was prompted by the near-impossibility of properly researching the city in the pre-internet days, the rare stories set in actual cities accurately portray the places (it help that local fans will gladly show the city and sometimes even write the plot).
Shrouded in Myth: In the first story a group of rich people at a party talks of Diabolik as a murderous thief capable of stealing everything and change his looks in an instant, and reports of him having broken out of a theoretically escape-proof prison and blown up a plane to kill an enemy, and they weren't even sure he actually existed (Diabolik's existance was confirmed only that one time Ginko arrested him and managed to keep him in long enough for the trial). Bonus points for not only Diabolik having done all of this in his career (he hadn't done the plane one yet, but he would do it later) with embarrassing ease (his evasion consisting in him killing a guard, steal his uniform, take off the mask that was hiding his true face and walk out from the main gate), but also Diabolik being there preparing the heist of his first story. Diabolik continuing to pull larger than life stunts contributed to him remaining this even after his first arrest and an imitator successfully copying a few of them, to the point that in one occasion a victim wasn't surprised in the least of Diabolik opening his supposedly Diabolik-proof safe, he just wanted to know how it was even possible.
Spot the Imposter: Happens fairly often due Diabolik's perfect masks. While it's usually easy if you're expecting it, as you only need to pinch the face to check for the mask, there are incidents in which Diabolik used a one-time occasion to fool the check, like that time he impersonated a glasses-wearing cop with a similar face and only needed to mask the higher part of his own face (the cops didn't think to have him remove the glasses and check there, so the pinch got the actual skin), or when he bleached his hair and used theater make-up to look differently from himself.
In one particularly strange occasion, Ginko had to deal with Alberto Floriani, who, after his crazed wife Elizabeth Gay fell for Ginko, had his face altered to look like the inspector to keep her love. When dealing with one of Floriani thugs he was immediately spotted... As Floriani had just left the room by another door. He and Floriani are then caught by Elizabeth, and both tell her the other is Diabolik... Until Ginko proved he wasn't wearing a mask. Elizabeth immediately shot her husband.
In a Whole Episode Flashback, Diabolik had just arrived in Clerville using the identity of his lookalike Walter Dorian. He's immediately captured by the mob, as Dorian had to leave the country after the boss Natasha Morgan caught him trying to swindle her. While Diabolik's face fools the mob, Natasha realizes he's not Dorian with just a close-up look: Diabolik was giving her a Death Glare mixed with Kubrick Stare, something Dorian would have never dared when tied up and held at gunpoint.
This one was particularly notable because Diabolik had gone to great pains to make himself look like Dorian (even replacing Dorian's archived fingerprints with his own in the records of a bank so he'd have access to the deposit boxes), and the mob had kidnapped him only after checking if he was the actual Dorian or an impostor (namely, they waited for him to access Dorian's deposit box in bank, as the director was one of their informants). And Natasha still spotted him with a good look.
Straight Gay: Recurring character Saverio Hardy, a friend of Diabolik and Eva, is gay, yet nobody had any idea until he came out on live television.
Superdickery: Once in a while, Ginko or another cop established as incorruptible commits a crime. It's later revealed to be Diabolik in disguise or, in one occasion, because the cop had been drugged and hypnotized by Diabolik into committing the crime.
An example that caught by surprise even the most jaded readers comes from the special issue Matrimonio in Nero (Wedding in Black). Altea is wounded when the titular wedding is bombed, so, believing she's dying, she convinces Ginko to marry her and they celebrate in place just before she slips in a coma. Almost immediately Ginko goes to a home where he meets a woman and kisses her, apparently cheating on a comatose Altea. The following page reveals that they're actually Diabolik and Eva, and that Diabolik had replaced Ginko the previous night.
Stalker with a Crush: Eva has collected a fair share of them, all of which ended up dead. The most notable of them is George Caron, secretary of the Minister for Justice, who in L'Arresto di Diabolik (The Arrest of Diabolik) attempted to blackmail an unwilling Eva into marrying him: Eva swapped him with Diabolik one hour before his execution and he died on the guillotine.
Almost as notable as George Caron is Lord Anthony Kant, both for being the cousin of Eva's father and for Eva having married him to get back her family name (Anthony had a heart attack when Eva told him, and the marriage was never consummated).
Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Inspector Ginko, played absolutely straight, and he is not an Inspector Javert because Diabolik really is a bad-guy. Ginko is very competent and utterly incorruptible, unlike many of his colleagues who frequently succumb to bribery. Ordinary criminals fear his investigations, because he will find enough evidence to get them arrested and convicted (assuming they don't piss off Diabolik somehow and get murdered first).
Tempting Fate: The story L'Arresto di Diabolik-Il Remake (a story that shows a remake of the original L'Arresto di Diabolik as part of a long flashback) starts with the director of the Hotel Excelsior explaining to the personnel how Diabolik and Eva Kant's first encounter in that hotel many years earlier had caused the hotel's closing, and that now that it had reopened they would have to do everything to cancel that black spot on the hotel's reputation. Not only Eva is among the hotel's personnel in preparation for a heist, but Diabolik has rented the very same room where they first met to help with the job. In the end the only reason the heist is not completed is that Diabolik and Eva change their minds and opt for some lovemaking in the place they first met...
Theme Naming: The letter K is present in all the names of our three protagonists, and also into Diabolik's adopted father's name (King).
This Is Unforgivable: Usually played for laughs when Diabolik and Eva see something particularly horrible. In one occasion Diabolik mailed the horrible thing to Ginko (who had the same reaction).
Title Drop: A strange case in L'Arresto di Diabolik-Il Remake, in which the stories L'Arresto di Diabolik (The Arrest of Diabolik) and Atroce Vendetta (Atrocious Revenge) are shown as part of two flashbacks: right before the start of the second flashback, Diabolik calls his revenge on Elizabeth Gay (subject of Atroce Vendetta and the second flashback) an atroucious revenge, put in bold for emphasis.
Tomboyish Ponytail: How Eva wore her hair in her youth and before marrying. In a mild aversion, adult Eva oozed femininity and sex appeal whenever she dressed elegant instead than practical.
The Trickster: Diabolik has shades of this, having done things like drugging the whole police corps with an obedience gas just to have Ginko give him the loot or mailing Ginko an horrible thing just for the hell of it.
Truth Serum: Frequently used to extract safe combinations etc. especially later in the series. In earlier comics, Diabolik favoured Cold-Blooded Torture instead. The effects of truth serums are represented realistically: not only Diabolik uses a real life drug (pentothal) for the job, but the various possible side effects are shown (and Diabolik takes care to check if his subjects are allergic or too sick for the serum whenever possible), and you can actually resist it if you're under some kind of eccitant agent or have been treated in such a way you simply fall half asleep (Diabolik is one of such persons, and Eva, after a few accidents where she was drugged with it, became another. Another one was an undercover cop who managed to fed Diabolik a bunch of lies).
Voice Changeling: Diabolik can imitate any male voice, and Eva learned from him how to imitate any voice regardless from gender.
Wham Episode: The first two stories had Diabolik living as a Rich Idiot with No Day Job with Elizabeth Gay, fiancee and Unwitting Pawn. Then came the story L'Arresto di Diabolik (The Arrest of Diabolik), where Elizabeth accidentally gets Diabolik arrested, the police makes his true face known to everyone and Eva Kant enters the cast as Diabolik lover and accomplice.
Il Ritorno di Gustavo Garian (The Return of Gustavo Garian) ended with the death of Gustavo Garian himself, the oldest recurring character of the series and the first named character to appear and name Diabolik.
Wife-Basher Basher: Eva does not tolerate wife bashers (and Diabolik will help her: he doesn't care about wife bashers, but he cares about what Eva hates): the last one who had the bad luck to get discovered by her was locked in his own secret vault with no food or water on his late wife's behalf (she had just asked them to rob him blind before killing herself, but Eva went the extra mile).
Wig, Dress, Accent: Once in a while, Diabolik and Eva have to enter places where their targets are Genre Savvy enough to check faces for mask disguises, so they regularly resort to wigs, coloured contact lenses and ordinary make up.
Ginko is just as intelligent and cunning as Diabolik, if not more, but limits himself to lawful means. Used to be just Word of God until the story Mocking Diabolik, where Ginko, using a particular situation where the limits of what he could lawfully do were stretched thin, completely and utterly humiliated and mockedthe King of Terror, who couldn't even start to guess what had happened without spying on Ginko.
Also, Diabolik and Eva have a glaring weakness in that they don't use accomplices unless in particular and extreme circumstances, and they have to work around Ginko's perennial numerical advantage.
Woman Scorned: Happens once in a while. Including a gender-inverted example where a man scorned decided to cash Diabolik's life debt to him to murder the woman who betrayed him.