Pick of the Week

September 14, 2011 – Demon Knights #1

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Avg Rating: 4.2
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 15.8%
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Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

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 MI13 — 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 MI13!” Obviously, it’s not the same story-wise, but tonally they are very similar. And not just tonally. Captain Britain and MI13 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.

Conor Kilpatrick
I didn’t even mention the creepy baby.


  1. I loved this book. Great review. I am a long time Marvel zombie, but I am more excited about what is going on at DC right now. This is one of many new DC books I’m going to be reading for some time.

  2. Definitely a great pick. This was tons of fun, and I feel like this style of introduction is way better than what he did in Stormwatch.

  3. this was great; probably my favorite of the relaunch so far.

  4. dammit. Another 2.99 outta my pocket

  5. I absolutely adored this book. So much fun with characters I didn’t expect like Vandal Savage and Shining Knight. Never been a huge Etrigan fan, but this book has single-handedly made me want to go and buy the Jack Kirby Demon Omnibus. Can’t wait until the next issue!

  6. Ain’t nothing like baby murder to tell you these aren’t your grandpa’s comics. I think DC may have been understating it when they labeled this line as “Dark.”

    Not a criticism. I loved the book. But I bet some people will have a problem with it.

    • In the panel after the baby is killed, when the father is being dragged out through its blood, that dialogue from the queen seemed to perfectly express my question about such an extreme opening scene.

      “But it was necessary.” Why?

      “So our current course is correct?” Hmm.

  7. I love this book. It’s new and original and so much fun, but my pick of the week is Batwoman #1. it’s just too good to see her back in her own book. Even without Greg Rucka writing it, I loved it.

    • i also loved that book but its so weird o see it go into the horror territory. and what was up with batwoman pulling out the spirit from the other spirit with her grapple gun.weird. all will be answered i guess.

    • BW#1 Was my POW. If it was “more of the same” , keep it comin’! The layouts, the flow of the action, just spectacular coloring(the red just “pops” amidst the spooky characters!). Beautiful artwork aside, this story creaped me out more than Animal Man #1, and hooked for this arc.
      Drowning children with ghostly tears for gods sake!!! Should be a great mysterious ride!

    • I wasn’t familiar with Batwoman, except for the publicity about her sexual orientation when it was announced. I think I may have see her appear in a couple of the Blackest Night books I read, but other than that she is new to me. It looks like another successful book in the new 52.

  8. I knew you’d be reviewing this book, but I’m excited to see it make Pick of the Week. I really enjoyed it.

    Like Stormwatch, we were introduced to a large number of characters at a very fast pace. That being said, I feel like Demon Knights did a better job of briefly establishing personalities. I love the Xandua/Blood/Etrigan triangle. The art was pretty satisfying. It matched well with the tone of the story. At the end of the day, I’m just excited to have a super hero/fantasy book. I’m sticking with this one.

  9. what a great book. there just isn’t enough exploding demon possesed babys in comics now a days.

  10. Nice write-up, Conor! Couldn’t agree more.

  11. Utterly brilliant book. I have read about half of this week’s 13 so far and the quality has been so much better than last week so far…this is probably my POTW so far too but B&R also blew me away.

  12. Interesting choice. I’ve read 6 DC books so far tonight and it’s next in line. I’m suddenly looking forward to it even more now.

  13. Thought I commented on this already but apparently it didn’t save or something.

    Anyway, this book was fantastic. I said in the thread for it that I didn’t expect much but was pleasantly surprised. This was my OMAC of the week (although I still think OMAC is my favorite book of the bunch), I went in not expecting much and was blown away by how fun it was. Paul Cornell really knocked it out of the park on this one and I think he did a better job on this than Stormwatch.

  14. I didn’t buy this one Wednesday, but now I’m going to have to get it. Off to the iPad!

  15. Am I the only one who didn’t like this book? I thought there was way too much “My name is…”, “I am…,” “we are…” types of introductions. I *wanted* to like it, because it’s a great mash-up of characters. But the “meet-up” aspect of this book was just way too rushed.

    • The plight of a book that knows that it only has one issue to hook an audience.

    • I was brand-new to everyone involved (save Merlin), so I found the introductions very helpful. It may have been a little heavy on the “roll call”, but for new readers, that’s important.

    • I thought that the book was really good and I understand why so many people think so highly of it. In fact, I think they are right in many cases, but it just didn’t do it for me. For some reason I found the characters boring and very cliched, of course I’ve seen Seven Samurai, the Magnificent Seven, Samurai 7, and all the other knock offs of the seven awesome warriors protecting the weak, so maybe I’m just burned out on the idea.

      I’m not gonna read the next issue, but I’m sure everyone that does is in for an enjoyable ride.

    • You’re definitely not alone. I read five #1’s this week, and this was my least favorite of the bunch. I thought Superboy and Batwoman were both leagues ahead of this book. I do appreciate something very different getting a lot of love, and I think it’s and Animal Man’s successes these past two weeks are very good signs for the industry, but overall, I found the book to be quite average.

    • I was really looking forward to this one, but in the end it was a total dud. The dialogue fell flat and the story itself was rushed and clumsy.

  16. I agree that the prominence of these fringe characters is one of the most exciting aspects of the New 52. This issue is fantastic.

  17. I loved this comic so much. Just pure, madcap fantasy fun. This is going to be a joy to read.

  18. This was my most anticipated title of the New 52, come on, superheroes + fantasy, it CAN’T fail! This was also my pick of the week and for the two people out there who haven’t picked it up, shame on you, you’re missing out on something great here! 😉

  19. I am not a fan of fantasy and only picked this up because the dude at the shop said it was really fun. I really enjoyed it. I haven’t finished reading everything this week and this will not be my pick (probably going to be Frankenstein so far), but just the fact that I enjoyed a fantasy book with Etrigan is a pretty big deal for me. I’m coming back for issue 2.

  20. This was fun! I guess I’m good at picking new dc books since this was the only one I got this week. Although Criminal is my pick of the week.

  21. Great book. I’m loving the weird titles more than the usual suspects. The diversity of the relaunch is great.

  22. I really enjoyed this book — the most fun, I’ve had with any of the reluanch titles so far. It’ll probably be my pick of the week, though I still have a few more books to go . . . I thought that Frankenstein and Batwoman were pretty strong as well . . .

  23. I also had a lot of fun with this book. the art had some inconsistencies for me, some panel’s weren;t as detailed as panels beside it, and the pacing felt rushed in some areas. I did like that modern sensibility, and think that there is some good set up here for some great character conflicts down the road.

    My PoW went to Ultimate Spidey. Very well written and extremely well drawn and hooked when i didn’t think it would.

  24. I thought this was pretty good, I think i need to spend a little more time with Etrigan in this characterization to see if it sticks with me. And I just hope he rhymes in the next issue.

  25. I’m not convinced that MX actually prefers the demon to the man. If I had to contend with the demon on regular basis, I’d probably employ a similar tactic. You want that guy on your side.

    • The story can be read to indicate that MX actually prefers the man. When Jason starts to turn she expresses a reluctance to him changing: “Jason you don’t have to.” Once its clear he is changing she says “Just one quiet pint that’s all I ask,” indicating that she didn’t want him to change and get involved. As she says this she is looking down with her hands on her head. The body language clearly indicates that MX is not happy. Only when the demon fully manifests does she change her tone. This indicates that she is putting on an act with the demon to keep him happy not the other way around.

  26. I didn’t know much about the Demon until he appeared in Moore’s Swamp Thing issues, and I became a fan of the character. I found a couple of the old Jack Kirby issues next, and though they have a different flavor, enjoyed them as well. Next came a mini series, I think Matt Wagner was involved with that, at either rate, it was interesting but more a horror tone. I’ll look for this one, I tend to like those comics that fall outside the comic box too.

  27. Great choice, Conor. This promises to be a lot of fun. (I’m also curious to see where Cornell’s going with happy, Brian Blessed-esque Vandal Savage.)

  28. Rushed, disappointing garbage. The art is a hot mess. The writing is poor and run of the mill. There is no magic and wonder that Kirby originally endowed this title with. I guarantee that this book will be cancelled before it hits twelve issues. I hate to be the dissenting opinion because I love the character Etrigan and thought it was a clever plot twist to explore Jason Blood’s history during medieval times. I wanted to enjoy it. But it seems DC has chosen to “dumb” down it’s product considerably in certain titles. This is one of them.

    • I wouldn’t call it garbage, but I do think it was pretty average and gets by on the reputation of Cornell’s writing and the fact that Etrigan is the star of the book. It was just perfectly average to me without being terrible. As a big fan of fantasy stories, it just seemed very bland and not something I’d recommend to other fans of the fantasy genre.

  29. Yes! Loved this book, although I am kind of upset that Etrigan doesn’t speak in couplets anymore…

  30. This book was so great, I did what Ron did with Animalman, I’ve read it three times already. And since I had to by this issue digitally, because it was sold out BEFORE MY SHOP OPENED on Wednesday, I’ve read it on three different devices; tablet, PC, and cell phone. The latter was while I was at work yesterday, sweet. Great on all three.

    In Paul Cornell I trust.

  31. Good review Conor. I’m tempted to give this one a try.

    Incidentally – do you think a book like Captain Britain & M13 would have lasted longer if it was available digitally? I’m inclined to say ‘yes’.

  32. Fear itself 6 was my pick it felt like the ending of the event will be good

  33. i was hoping this would be the pick, once i realized that Jason blood was a patsy..awesome

  34. LOVED this.

    And this art is fantastic.

  35. Surprised this was such an amazing book. I opted for the trade route because I like Cornell but I feel like his stories usually work in one big chunk. (I loved Knight and Squire but I have a feeling I would’ve been tired of it in single issues) But I’ll definitely keep this in mind at the shop.

    My pick was Batman and Robin #1. Tomasi and Gleason are just two great creators working together and I think this could be an extremely fun run by the two.

  36. Great pick! I thought the art and coloring were incredible. Did you notice that each page seemed to have one really great piece of character art to anchor the page, like Shining Knight’s first page, etc. I think Neves took this not that compelling story and made it incredible by making the art for all the characters so brilliant and dynamic.

    And I think MX likes BOTH gentlemen. You gotta admit, you’d never get bored.

  37. Just finished this and what a surprise. Definitely outside of the box. Great choice.

  38. I have a question. Something in the first few pages confused me. It looked like the knight tossed Excalibur to the Lady in the Lake. He throws it, a hand grabs it, but then on the next page you just see the sword in the water with no one touching it. Then MX jumps in after it. I assumed she was going after it to take it from the Lady in the Lake but the hand/that character seemed to disappear. Did I miss something??

  39. This book really surprised me with its overall quality. I attribute it, at least partially, to Cornell’s return to Anglophilia (can one be an Anglophile when one is British?). His heart is really in this book. I am uncertain if that is true of Stormwatch, which I found to be of fairly inferior quality. Excellent art didn’t hurt the book at all, to be certain, which was another weak spot in Storm Watch.

  40. Damn. I thought for sure I had the POTW in my stack. What a great week! Every book was a contender.

    Didn’t pick this up. Maybe I’ll jump on in a few. Looks like Batgril or Red Lanterns might be gettin cut.

  41. Although the art was nice, IMO this was not new reader friendly at all. If I knew who Etrigan or Xanadu were, maybe it would’ve made sense. I thought these were supposed to be new reader friendly. I won’t be continuing on with it, but I’m glad people are digging it.

  42. Being new to DC recently I did’nt understand this book at all , seemed a mess , Am I missing something I should of read before?

    • I feel the same. I guess it’s just not a new reader book.

    • I disagree totally. This is practically the only book in the new DCU that is completely reader friendly. Cornell is the first writer to really flesh out the medieval DCU. There’s no previous continuity. And this is the earliest we’ve seen these characters, so they haven’t really become the characters we’ve seen in previous work. All you need to enjoy this book is a love of fantasy, fun, and good writing.

    • I agree with this. The book was a shambles and got the first 1 that I’ve ever given to a book on my pull list.

  43. I enjoyed this comic, but they crammed too much into it for a new book. Etrigan was always a favorite of mine in the past. Let’s give this book a chance. It just needs fleshing out and more time to do it in. It’s on my pull list. Will probably outlast
    Savage Hawkman…..

  44. I agree with the Pick of the Week. Only relaunch book I really enjoyed, and it totally could have happened without a reboot, since it’s a flashback.

    The relationships alone have me intrigued, and the fantasy setting is icing on the cake. I’ll be honest though, besides the writing of Paul Cornell, the biggest reason I picked this title up is that I expect Klarion to show up at some point.

  45. Paul Cornell does a great job on this book. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with STORMWATCH, after loving his work on Captain Britain. Still give him props for working with two difficult and different teams. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the publicity on this book, other than that it featured Etrigan and was going to take place in this time period. This is a much more naive Jason Blood than the one we have grown used to in his contemporary appearances. I’m also happy that Cornell is forcing Etrigan to speak continually in rhyme, although I wouldn’t mind him doing so on occasion.

    I’ve always found Vandal an interesting character, when done well. I’m looking forward to this more down-to-earth incarnation.

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