Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

DEMON KNIGHTS #1 by Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves, Oclair Albert, and Marcelo Maiolo

Demon Knights is absolutely the most charming and eye-opening entry in DC Comics’ New 52 ensemble. It’s daring and it’s different, and it doesn’t even focus on the heavyweights in the DC universe. Talk about a radical departure…and it delivers on so many levels.

First off, the book isn’t a traditional superhero title. The only people in the book that wear capes are people who wear them as protection against the weather, or as a statement of rank and privilege. Simply put, this is a fantasy series set back in the Dark Ages.

When I first heard about the subject matter, and even the heroes involved, I wasn’t overly excited. I’ve mostly enjoyed the Demon Etrigan ever since Jack Kirby created him, but a lot of people haven’t really known what to do with him. Dark Knights writer Paul Cornell has Etrigan down cold, and I’m waiting to see what he does with him as this initial story unfolds.

Madame Xanadu, one of the most mysterious heroines in the DCU primarily because no one knows what to do with her either, is the perfect foil for Jason Blood/Etrigan. The snarky relationship bodes well for longevity without stumbling over some romantic attraction. However, there is the relationship she has with Etrigan that’s got things in a twist.

So far, I’m loving the villains. Mordru and Morgan Le Fey come with a checkered past in the literary world as well as the DCU, but Cornell handles them really well here. They positively radiate with evil and mercenary interests, though we’re not quite sure what the endgame is yet. Unfortunately for them, their chosen path is about to intersect our heroes.

You see, that encounter comes along as a bar fight. In lesser hands, that wouldn’t be so interesting. But Cornell not only brings Etrigan and Xanadu to the forefront, but also introduces a female Shining Knight who insists on being called “Sir Ystin.” Interesting, that, and I’m wondering what Cornell is going to make of it.

The art is fantastic. With Diogenes Neves on pencils and Oclair Albert on inks, the otherworldliness of the Dark Ages as well as the magical nature of the characters and the surroundings immediately come to life. Marcelo Maiolo’s colors are outstanding and provide hues and tones that draw the eye again and again. This was one of those comics that I read through the first time, then went back again just for the art.

And at the end of this issue, a dragon breaks into the tavern. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

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