Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Pop Mhan (p), Art Thibert & Jake Crippen (i)
Uninhibited and uncontrolled, the Demon exults in its newfound freedom. For centuries, the Demon has been bound to Jason Blood. However, a mystical ritual of computer-aided alchemical hermeticism has sundered the magical ties that bind. Now, the Demon Etrigan is coupled to Okumura Ame, a young woman with a love for recklessness and excitement. Unfortunately, she hasn't the ability to reign in the Demon's destructive desires. Amidst a world of crime and decadence, a force for terror and devastation has been given free sway, which can make even the cruelest mortal a gibbering loon in the face of its infernal depravity. The Demon laughs as it rides away to spread pain and chaos, while others fumble in the darkness trying to understand what's going on.
"I see your hunger. Hunger undoes us."
Dysart's plotting is tight, leaving the reader thrilled but hungering for more. Unlike previous issues, the narrative focus here isn't Ame, but the Demon and Jason Blood. This is structured around two powerful scenes; Etrigan's face-to-face confrontation with Blood at a scene of wild mayhem, and a flashback in which Blood is approached with the possibility to rid himself of the Demon. In both scenes, the dialogue and action strongly conveys the respective characters and their antagonistic co-existence.
The mood of the story is not as wild as in the previous issues, yet a sense of menace and chaos pervades each scene, from the "kick-in-the-door" entry of the techno-alchemist's gruesome apartment to the unsettling conversation among Blood's oddity-filled abode. Dysart's taut scripting doles out snips of information, but the revelations are disconcerting, leaving the reader with a sense of dread.
The reader wants to know more about the situation and wants to see how things are going to turn out, but there is a visceral feeling that maybe it's too horrific. Like driving past a car wreck; the reader may rubberneck, but may not be comfortable with what they end up seeing. Even the humor has this quality. There's a sense of goofy excitement to see the Demon riding off on a motorcycle, laughing all the way. What's Etrigan up to now? When we see our answer, it's disturbing. Likewise, what's that nasty gunk on the walls and floor of the alchemist's apartment? The answer earns both a cry of revulsion and a chuckle.
The art maintains its high level of quality. Though the pyrotechnics of this issue were not as obvious as in the previous ones, there is still a lot of action here. Dark colors, macabre scenes, and vivid facial expressions carry the narrative focus of this story with deftness. Mhan's compositions are filled with a sense of anxiety.
"A user of magic is supposed to be an aspirant to absolute truth, a seeker of the god inside of us. I'm none of those things. I've failed. . ."
This is a solid horror comic. However, it isn't just a typical splatter-filled gore fest; the horror doesn't come from graphic displays of violence. The true source of horror is in that which the demon represents, the unbound lusts and desires of the typical human. For centuries, the Demon has been kept subdued by the discipline and control of Jason Blood. When placed into a less heroic host, the Demon takes control.
Horror springs from revulsion. This title pulls no punches. The world is a dark and dirty place, filled with reckless, selfish, and violent people. They each have the potential for unleashing the demon within.
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