Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 05.22.2013 - Daredevil #26
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.08.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #8
- Pick of the Week - 05.01.2013 - Animal Man #20
- Pick of the Week - 04.24.2013 - Uncanny Avengers #7
Art by DIOGENES NEVES and OCLAIR ALBERT
Cover by TONY SALVATORE DANIEL
Size: 32 pages
In this new era one of the most commendable things that DC Comics has done in relaunching their main line of books is that they’ve made a concerted effort to publish different kinds of superhero comic books.
Demon Knights is a different kind of superhero comic book. Hell, I hesitate even calling it a superhero comic. I think. Anyway. Questions of labels aside, one thing is clear: Demon Knights #1 is a hell of a lot of fun.
So far in the new DC Universe I’ve found that I have responded best to the books that have really taken chances with genre and character and story. The books that read just like they did before the change over don’t really excite me as much. I see this DC relaunch as a golden opportunity to tell new and interesting stories with old and familiar characters and we have just that in Demon Knights.
If you read last week’s Stormwatch you would have seen a throwaway panel that showed the characters in Demon Knights as part of the long history of Stormwatch. Both books are written by Paul Cornell, so I was happy to see a bit of synergy between his books. But I was even happier because while I enjoyed Stormwatch #1 I did’t love it, but I absolutely adored Demon Knights #1. This is right here is Paul Cornell firing on all cylinders in that special Paul Cornell way. This is the Paul Cornell of Captain Britain and MI:13–the Paul Cornell who envisioned vampire missiles from the moon here sees that there is no problem that cannot be solved with a few dragons.
There has been a lot of hoopla over the fact that Justice League takes place “five years ago” and Action Comics happens even before Justice League but so far not a lot has been said about Demon Knights taking place in the DC Universe during The Dark Ages. And in The Dark Ages what we have here is a gathering of the team issue. Well, not so much a gathering as a random (or is it?) stumbling together of the team. Finding themselves in the small town of Little Spring just as it is about to be invaded by The Questing Queen’s Horde Army are Jason Blood and his brimstonier half Etrigan, his girlfriend Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, and The Shining Knight. (There are two other characters that we meet: Al Jabr and Exoristos who look likely to join the team but I have no idea who they are.)
This is the perfect grouping for a writer like Paul Cornell with the highlight being, of course, the now suddenly very interesting Jason Blood/Etrigan/Madame Xanadu love triangle. When we first see them together, Jason Blood and Madame Xanadu display all the trappings of a happy couple in a long term relationship. But when Jason Blood turns into Etrigan, the sparks start flying and the making out begins in earnest. You see, Madame Xanadu only puts up with Jason Blood, nice guy that he may be, in order to make time with Etrigan. What a masterstroke and what a wonderful twist on the traditional superhero love triangle. Add Vandal Savage the uncouth bruiser and The Shining Knight, the overly refined warrior and you have a wonderful mix of personalities for Paul Cornell to play with.
Demon Knights is definitely not the traditional superhero comic book that we’ve come to expect from the marketplace over the last 15 years or so. It features characters that have previously been categorized as superheroes, but it is not your traditional superhero book. It takes place in The Dark Ages. It features swords and sorcery. It has dragons. This is superhero fantasy done with a modern sensibility. And it is tons of fun.
Writer Paul Cornell is well matched with artist Diogenes Neves. He has a very detail intensive style that does not skimp on the backgrounds and thus does a wonderful job of setting the scene and establishing that this is indeed not a world that you are used to reading in DC comic books. There are some wonderfully frenetic action scenes in this issue that Neves handles wonderfully, and the final page is really a sight to behold. Neves handles character just as well as he does action in a style that is not overly cartoony and not overly realistic. The more I look at these pages the more I see a very heavy Howard Porter influence, and that serves Demon Knights just as well as Porter served JLA.
While I was reading Demon Knights #1 I kept thinking “this is just like Captain Britain and MI:13!” Obviously, it’s not the same story-wise, but tonally they are very similar. And not just tonally. Captain Britain and MI:13 was, while it lasted, one of the most fun comic books out there, the kind you tend to get from very talented creators who come from other media and who have ideas that are a bit outside of the comic book box. After I finished Demon Knights #1 I thought, “man that was fun.” And the more I thought about it the more fun I had and the more I couldn’t wait for the next issue to see the big crazy battle between the Demon Knights and the dragons and The Questing Queen’s Horde Army. And how is this bizarre love triangle going to play out? And what kind of chaos will Vandal Savage bring to the team? And will The Shining Knight continue to dish out withering bon mots?
There are many reasons why I am excited about the new DC Universe. But one of the major reasons is for books like Demon Knights. The way things had been going with the comic book industry I thought that these kind of comic books were a thing of the past from the Big Two. A fantasy series taking place in The Dark Ages featuring familiar but third tier characters is the type of comic book that I never expected to see again. But here it is and I couldn’t be happier.
I didn’t even mention the creepy baby.