Anyone who’s been following my column since the Autumn probably remembers me gushing about Demon Knights, a series that premiered for the first time with DC’s New 52 in September. Though I’ve only reviewed the first issue here on Moarpowah, I’ve read every release religiously the day they’re released and, so far, I’ve been nothing but impressed. That’s why today on Silverwolf’s Den I’ll be discussing why Demon Knights is the most must-read series DC has released in the last year.
The plot of Demon Knights focuses on seven unlikely “heroes” brought together as a matter of convenience more than anything. Our main protagonist is Jason of Norwich, a former apprentice of the esteemed Merlin. As Camelot burned, Merlin bound Jason’s soul to that of the demon Etrigan, causing the two to share a body which they can change at will. Etrigan is your classic demon from Hell: his main desire is to destroy, he breathes fire, and hates just about everyone. Next we have Madame Xanadu, a former maiden of Avalon gifted with mystical powers; Xanadu is the paramour of both Jason and Etrigan, a fact that perplexes and draws endless queries from her “allies.” Exoristos the Amazon gives the team a combination of old-school codes of honor and amazing feats of strength; this warrior woman is on a quest for redemption, a fact which often leads her into conflict with the shadier members of the Demon Knights.
Al Jabr, the Arabian inventor, lends his wit and knowledge to the team; the fact that he’s non-European often draws hatred from the citizens around him, but he is accepted by the others…though it’s another story if they trust him or not. The famed Shining Knight Sir Ystin possesses the most direct motivation of the group: posing as a man, this female Celt seeks to find the Holy Grail and redeem Camelot…yet she claims to have never met either Jason or Xanadu before, despite the fact that both were present at Camelot as well…Vandal Savage, another well-known DC fixture, is the team’s barbarian: he is reckless, loud, boorish, and a drunkard, but adds his own sense of style and charm to this team, causing friction with some of the stuffier members. Last, but certainly not least, we have the elusive and mysterious “Horsewoman,” an amazing archer who’s sole-minded purpose is protection of the innocent and eradication of evil.
As you can probably tell, such a band of people (it’s hard to call them “heroes”) make for a great story. Most of them aren’t friends, and some of them even openly hate and fight with one another. They are united only out of convenience, and it’s not surprising when their differing motivations come into conflict. Paul Cornell must be praised: he deftly handles such a large cast of protagonists, giving each ample time and exploration in the story while still moving each arc’s central plot forward. Cornell is also a master of both playing off and subverting common fantasy tropes: this fact makes his story instantly relatable for anyone with even the barest knowledge of all things medieval, while still giving even hardcore fans of knights in shining armor something new to experience and think about. This story is jam packed not only with action, but also with substantial (and exceptional) character development. Honestly, I’d go so far as to say this is the best comic writing I’ve read in over a year.
Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert deserve medals for their art. Seriously. These two demonstrate that they can effortlessly tackle everything from scenes of bloodbath battles to calm cart rides. The character designs are awesome, and every character’s appearance reflects on his or her unique persona: Exoristos’s simple armor shows her bravery and indicates she has no fear of death, Al Jabr’s cowl shows how his intentions and past are shrouded in mystery…I could go on and on for each character! The artists do great work conveying the emotions felt by the characters in each panel, and I for one cannot help but be drawn into the story as I admire the pencil and color work. Mike Choi also deserves a shout out for working on several of the covers, which in my mind make it almost impossible to immediately open the comic and see the story inside. I really take my time when reading comics from this series, allowing myself time to take in its great art. I can truthfully say I find no fault with this series’s art.
Ultimately, Demon Knights is the best series I’m reading right now, and probably the best series DC is currently publishing. For those that are interested and willing to wait until July, DC is collecting the entire first arc (seven issues) in trade paperback format; this is definitely a great way to jump into the series and learn in more detail how everything came together. I ask you, for your own good and enjoyment, to go out and buy/borrow and read this series; I promise you won’t regret it.
Overall rating of Demon Knights Issues #1-9
Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. To call him a wannabe knight is an understatement.