Review: Demon Knights #1

Written by Paul Cornell, Art by Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert, Cover by Tony S. Daniel

Solicitation Info (from Previews): Set in the Dark Ages of the DC Universe, a barbarian horde is massing to crush civilization. It’s fallen to Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood, the man with a monster inside him, to stand in their way – though the demon Etrigan has no interest in protecting anyone or anything other than himself! It’ll take more than their own power to stop an army fueled by bloodlust and dark sorcery, and some very surprising heroes – and villains – will have no choice but to join the fray!

Bias: I’m a fan of fantasy books, but somehow, it rarely translates to comic books, for some reason (for me, anyway – I know there are a lot of people who disagree with me). So I wasn’t sure if this would be of interest to me – especially with what I said about Deathstroke (namely, some characters – in this case, Etrigan – should be villains, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be that in this book…) Still, there have been a few books that have hinted that the events of Demon Knights paves the way for what the DCnU is in the present. So this could be interesting…

What I liked: This was exactly why I don’t like fantasy comics, in reverse (meaning that I enjoyed the comic very much!) The tropes are different, and this was treated not as a comic book, but as a fantasy story. A prominent DC villain shows up within its pages, and the reaction to that character pretty much summed up the difference to me. (I’ll discuss this more in the comments for spoiler reasons.) The dialogue had a heroic, Shakespearean quality (not literally Shakespearean – it wasn’t done in iambic pentameter – but there was a quality to it. The very first line of the comic was “The beasts have broken us! The castle has fallen! Flee, you innocents unprotected! Flee while we die!” See what I mean?)

What I disliked: Yet as much as I liked the dialogue, there was one thing missing: Etrigan didn’t rhyme. I was very sad to see this characteristic of the Demon wasn’t incorporated, especially given how little he talked during the comic. The initial page was a bit misleading as well. It states that the intro takes place “Four centuries ago.” Seemed very odd at the time, but I went with it. Later, though, it updated the timetable to “Now. The Dark Ages.” So that was four centuries before the “now” of the comic, not the now of the reader.

Verdict: Even Etrigan’s failure to rhyme isn’t enough to stop me from collecting this title. I think I’ll very much enjoy this one.

As always, SPOILERS in comments, including my favorite scene, thoughts on what happened, and questions about what’s to come.

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One response to “Review: Demon Knights #1

  1. My favorite scene was when Jason Blood and Madame Xanadu see Vandal Savage, a major villain in the DC Universe in modern times. Yet instead of fighting him, they go into the tavern and have a drink together. This was a far more fitting situation for a fantasy story, and it was at this point in the story that I realized I was going to like this comic. (I mean, the rest of the group meet up in the tavern as well – how much more appropriate to fantasy is that? A tavern!)

    My favorite line was Etrigan’s reaction to Merlin’s dilemma of what to do with the Demon. “Now you’ve decided that capturing an unwilling demon wasn’t the best castle defense strategy?! How about you just free me? Then I could, I don’t know, establish a library system, or invent the printing press? I really am full of love for humans at this point.” The sarcasm was positively delightful.

    One great benefit to having this title set in the Dark Ages was the costumes. I’ve never liked Etrigan’s outfit in the regular DCU. He doesn’t look fearsome in the slightest. Yet in armor, he certainly does look foreboding. Definitely an improvement!

    I absolutely loved that Madame Xanadu seems to be playing both Jason Blood and Etrigan, making each think they are the reason she’s with them. (And her kiss with Etrigan causing her to breath out smoke was a nice touch.) This is a manipulative woman, and they certainly aren’t downplaying her abilities in that area.

    Oh, and the mysterious, hooded figure is even in this title, hidden in the middle of page 8 in the midst of the questing queen’s horde (next to the fat guy with the moustache and eye patch).

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