This is without a doubt the hardest comic review I’ve ever written. I can’t believe the last issue of my favorite comic series is finally here. It’s with a heavy heart that I write this review of Demon Knights #23 and discuss why I think this amazing series didn’t last.
Demon Knights #23 is the climax of the Holy Grail arc. The Giant army bears down upon Al-Wadi, and it’s up to Etrigan and company to halt their advance. Some quick thinking from Al Jabr may hold the key to their victory, but will all the world risk descent into chaos when Lucifer’s Black Diamond is produced beside the Holy Grail?
I’ve praised Robert Venditti’s writing on numerous occasions, and this issue is no exception. The dialogue is snappy, with each character’s lines reflecting his or her persona while furthering the story. There were some great humorous moments, especially one scene involving Exoristos felling a Giant with a blow to his…personal area. Al Jabr, after many issues without an appearance, featured prominently in this installment, which made me quite happy. Sadly, we didn’t see much of Vandal Savage, but given the number of times he’s stolen the show before I shouldn’t really complain.
Artist Phil Winslade is on the series for the first, and obviously last time, and his artwork is a mixed bag. First and foremost, the issue’s cover is absolutely stunning; heck, if they made it as a poster, I’d buy it in a second! Sadly, his work on the interior varies from great to poor. Overall, his character designs are pretty good, but sadly their faces lack the expression seen from prior artists in the series. The fights scenes are cool, but some of the suggested movement appears awkward. Honestly, it’s hard for me to fault Winslade, since he didn’t have multiple issues to acclimate to these hard-to-draw characters and mystical events.
Overall, Demon Knights #23 was a good ending for the series, but sadly left me wanting more. It’s hard to blame Venditti and Winslade, since when a series is cancelled some arcs must be rushed to completion. It’s clear Venditti had a greater vision for these characters, but 20 pages isn’t much time to wrap up two years of plot developments. I also wish the ending had been a little more final; with the door left open the way it was, it only leaves me wanting more stories of these medieval heroes. It’s not a bad issue, but it didn’t feel like the grand finale I was hoping for, though I’m not sure exactly what ending to this wonderful series would’ve left me completely satisfied. For those who’ve been reading the series, you’ll definitely enjoy this comic, though I’d be surprised if it didn’t leave you desiring more.
Now we come to the crux of the matter: why didn’t Demon Knights survive despite quality issue after quality issue? The simple fact is sales figures failed to materialize for this awesome series. It’s regrettable, but it seems that, unless a series has lots of planned tie-ins, once sales drop below 15,000, cancellation at DC is all but guaranteed. This is a terrible shame, since some other titles with worse sales and quality than Demon Knights (see Katana and Justice League of America’s Vibe) are sticking around.
Honestly, I’m glad that Demon Knights last for two years, which is better than many other non-superhero DC titles that seem to last less than a year, like Sword of Sorcery. Each arc was thus given a chance for full exploration and development, and few hanging threads were left at the end of this wonderful series. It’s clear that the writers and artists who worked on Demon Knights were filled with passion for the series. I only regret that we didn’t get to see what else Robert Venditti had in store for the future of this medieval team. My hope is that, perhaps with enough fan enthusiasm and trade paperback sales, DC will revive Demon Knights as a mini-series sometime in the future.
-great dialogue and humorous moments
-epic battle scenes
-brought back and concluded earlier plot threads
-unfufliling ending to the series
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He’s off to write some Demon Knights fan fiction.
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