As some of my regular readers may recall, a few weeks ago I had a poll to decide on a comic series from DC’s New 52 to follow. Among them was a title called Demon Knights which, while it sounded awesome to me with its promises of medieval battles of swords and sorcery, failed to land even a single vote! Last week, however, while I was browsing my local comic book shop on a Wednesday (aka New Comic Book Day) I saw that only two copies of Demon Knights remained on the shelf; if it had sold out so fast on its release day, surely it held as much promise as I first thought when I learned of it this summer! With hands faster than the Flash I grabbed the issue and took it home to read, and I must say that it is the best title in the New 52 I’ve read so far, and maybe even the best comic I’ve read in recent memory!
Demon Knights begins on what is described as the “final day of Camelot.” King Arthur lies dead, slain on the field of battle, his body taken by mysterious maidens to be enshrined in Avalon until the world needs a hero. The castle is stormed, its walls ruined as enemies pour over the bodies of the Knights of the Round Table. During all this confusion, Merlin the wizard considers his position: he summoned a demon, Etrigan, to defend the castle, but now is unsure what to do with this bound beast. Consequently, a young knight named Jason appears before Merlin, and the elder wizard decides to bind the demon to Jason’s soul, forever fusing these two and gifting the youthful noble access to a dark power. With an immortal demon attached to his essence, Jason gains immortality and begins traveling with Madame Xanadu, one of the women of Avalon who abandoned her post in hopes of retrieving Excalibur from a lake. While these two ageless beings travel the land, the sinister forces of the Questing Queen ravage the countryside, destroying everything in their path as they search for a mystical artifact of great power. Before our heroes know it, they are flung into the conflict alongside a group of warriors including the Arabian inventor Al Jabr, a tough female warrior named Exoristos, the celtic “Sir” Ystin (called the Shining Knight), and the ageless barbarian Vandal Savage. Can these heroes, despite some sinister backgrounds, form a coherent team to defend innocents from the Queen’s forces? Or will they end up damning one another beforehand?
Comic superstar Paul Cornell is the genius behind Demon Knights and I must say he lives up to his lofty reputation. The story is crisp and well-paced, providing a good twist on the classic “knight’s quest.” The dialogue is clever and flows well, with each character’s voice very well pronounced; I feel as if I could hear their dialects in my head, especially Sir Ystin. There is a decent amount of subtlety in the story which, when paired with the medieval heroism, forms a comic unlike any other I’ve ever seen. Perhaps one of the best lines involves a pun on Vandal Savage’s name, stating he is a member of the vandal tribe, a group of Germanic people known for their brutality and from which we derive the word vandalism. Even in this short introduction, I already feel attached to the characters and invested in their goals. The action sequences are exciting without becoming over-the-top or confusing. It’d be an understatement to say I’m eager to see how the tale continues.
Demon Knights’s art is the product of Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert. The character designs are simply fantastic: the characters’ armor, weapons, facial expressions, clothing…just about everything is done perfectly for the story. The scenes truly evoke a sense of the medieval era and I felt the story perfectly exemplifies the confusion and fear associated with the Dark Ages. Ultimately, there are too many awesome scenes for me to describe, but if I had to pick a favorite it’d probably be the first page of the comic where a dying knight proclaims the doom of Camelot, his broken body barely straining to stand as he props himself up upon Excalibur itself. It’s hard for me to find anything wrong with the art…even as I try to think now there isn’t any scene that seems hastily done or any object or character that’s out of place. I’m excited to see what this creative team will do as the tale continues next month.
Demon Knights is perhaps the best of DC’s New 52 and definitely the best one that I’ve read so far. The story and artwork are astounding and complement one another amazingly. If you like medieval tales of heroism with a bit of an edge, then this story is for you; even if those things don’t suit your fancy, I’d still suggest you pick it up! So what are you waiting for? Go find a copy of Demon Knights and read it now!
Brett Simon is a twenty-one year old recent reconvert to the world of comics. He’s a bit sad that this incarnation of Etrigan doesn’t speak in rhyming couplets like he does when appearing in works by Kevin Smith.
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