By Justin McCarty
Only a month after DC reintroduced Deadman with a new number one, we get Etrigan, another lesser known anti-hero. I feel like special care has to be taken to grab the potential reader where the lesser known properties are concerned. Demon is an intriguing comic, but it doesn’t do enough to introduce us to these characters and their world.
Jason Blood struggles to contain a demon within him; placed there by magic hundreds of years in the past. The demon Etrigan yearns to taste freedom and violence; Jason can turn himself into the demon by saying a little poem, which will let the demon out. Jason’s attitude about this tells us this is a bad thing for him. The first issue introduces us to this conflict and a little girl; oh, and a nuclear bomb. The hook here is that the Devil is trying to escape Hell. How will Jason and Etrigan deal with this?
This book shows promise; it has an action horror premise, which is always an easy sell. It’s a Kirby character, and he had a knack for creating characters with just the right amount of complexity. The pacing of the story builds to a wild climax that will keep you reading. I really want to know what happens next. I also really wanted more of an introduction to our character; I hate having to Google characters to understand a book. If you can’t take the time to give some backstory on your characters you will lose potential readers. Even in a six-issue series, you should take the time to make sure you do not alienate newcomers. Longtime fans will get every callback and Easter Egg; the rest of us will get confused. I did.
The art team did a fantastic job of making this feel like a superhero book, and an action horror. Remember this is DC, not Vertigo. They have a foot firmly in the supernatural but keep it on brand for DC. Lots of over-the-top artwork from Brad, Andrew, and Chris, make the book work really well visually. We get a variety of fronts from Tom Napolitano, that set apart the characters, which adds to the feel of the characters.
Not enough is being done with the characters. Jason Blood/Etrigan are hundreds of years old. A lot of stories there to draw from. Something longer than six issues could really do them justice. This issue barely gives us passing references to that history together and there is nothing in the story to suggest we will get more than this. This introduction, as well as being brief, doesn’t feel all that natural, particularly the dialogue. It just doesn’t feel all that natural between Jason and Etrigan.
This issue ended with a bang. Literal Hell will be unleashed on Earth. I will be hanging around for the next issue to see if I can really connect with the story. This had a lot to keep me coming back. It has work to do to live up to its potential, however.
The Demon: Hell is Earth #1