This month, DC Comics is releasing a bunch of Zero Titles in honor of the one year anniversary of its New 52 initiative. In general, these issues tell stories about what characters were doing before the New 52 began (though in some cases, like Green Lantern #0, they move the story forward but discuss other origins or secrets). I’ve already looked at the zero issue for Green Arrow, but this week I’m turning to my favorite DC series, Demon Knights. How did this origin issue rate, especially compared to the rest of the series?
Our story begins in Hell some years before the start of Demon Knights #1. At this point, Etrigan is a servant of Lucifer, Hell’s ruler. Lucifer horribly mistreats Etrigan and, as a result, the future Demon Knight decides to rally demons to his side and rebel against his master. Meanwhile, in the human world, Jason of Norwich, the man latter known as Jason Blood, toils as a scribe for Merlin in Camelot. Jason hates his position and is consumed by an endless rage at the banality of life. Through all of this, Merlin begins concocting a plan to control his pupil’s anger, and perhaps set him on the path to greatness.
Paul Cornell knocks it out of the park with this one! This issue is the kind I long for with this series, and it really delivered! Merlin’s narration throughout was great at tying everything together. Lucifer had great characterization, and it makes me look forward to next issue since we’re going to see more of him. I also felt the classification of Hell’s demons based on things like Poetry and Prose was a pretty cool idea, since it explains Etrigan’s rhyming as less of a quirk and more as a rule for ascending demonic hierarchy. The secrets we learned about Merlin within were also interesting: it seems this wizard’s agenda may be darker than anyone could imagine. There’s nothing I can find wrong with the writing.
Bernard Chang takes the helm as both the penciller and cover artist. Chang does a superb job, drawing everything from a mundane study to intricate demon armor with finesse. The character designs for the demons are great, and I loved how each one looked especially different from all the others. I will admit that in some of the less action-packed scenes the art can seem flat, but it’s a minor complaint at best. Colorist Marcelo Maiolo does great work, swapping a palette of flame colors to one of neutral tones when jumping between Hell and Camelot; he does great work, especially showing the sheen on the armor and weapons. Jared K. Fletcher, holding the oft-overlooked position of letterer, does good work by using different fonts between the demons and humans, keeping in step with earlier issues of the series. Ultimately, the art is not the best we’ve seen in the series, but it’s still great.
Demon Knights #0 is a superb comic and well worth buying. It’s a pretty decent jumping-on point for new readers, too, since it recounts the backstory of our two main protagonists and explains more about Merlin. This comic exemplifies the stellar writing and epic art I’ve come to expect from Demon Knights, and moving forward I know things can only become better!
Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. He wonders if using demons to help with anger management is the way of the future.