Demon Knights #2

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Demon Knights reminds me a lot of Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. I'm not suggesting in any way this is a bad thing -- I simply have (probably) seen the same media as Paul Cornell, a Doctor Who writer and one of the few Doctor Who novelists in the '90s that respected the television show more than their own ill-fitting ideas.

Cornell's characterization of the Demon is the best Demon Knights offers. That may be due to Cornell being saturated by numerous British sitcoms starring horrible, yet likeable antagonists that learn nothing and remain rotten to the core. Basil Fawlty is a good example, the ladies from Absolutely Fabulous are others. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the closest America ever came to replicating the phenomenon, but he eventually retrieved his soul and became good.

Cornell takes advantage of the new 52 absence of continuity to rebuild the Demon from the ground up. The Demon is evil, but he's not stupid evil. He also possesses a sense of humor that isn't based upon depravity. His droll commentary adds freshness. He neither sounds like watered down Kirby, nor the cursed rhymer. Cornell emphasizes that the rhyming is a quirk in Etrigan's character not a necessity. The Demon lacks hellish omnipotence. He's a flappable individual that can be taken completely unawares and go down in flames just like an ordinary person.

Cornell casts Brian Blessed as Vandal Savage. When Savage longs to reacquaint himself with the taste of dragon, you can hear King Richard IV the boisterous father of Edmund Blackadder and the bellowing Yrcanos from Doctor Who. The casting is perfect, given that this is a new 52 Vandal Savage, somebody we've not seen before. Vandal could become a lot of fun.

The teaming of Morganne Le Fey and Mordru is inspired. The Shining Knight is fantastic as is the gender/orientation humor associated with the character. Al Jabr seems to have wondered off the cel of Hanna-Barbera's Arabian Knights. When subtracting the mild cursing, you can listen to Don Messick as Al Jabr speaks. Again, not exactly a complaint, just an observation. The Horsewoman comes off as a blank, and Exoristor strikes me as, "Couldn't get Wonder Woman and Big Barda was in the shower when the phone rang." Still, it's early, and Cornell could flesh out these characters.

I've read Cornell's Doctor Who novels, and even the least of them were rife with humor and whimsy. These elements play in Demon Knights, and artists Diogenes Nieves demonstrates perfect comic timing in numerous moments during the story. So he fuses his art seamlessly with Cornell's wit. Inker Oclair Albert brings out extraordinary detail from such things as the Shining Knight's armor and the great amount of equine sinew flitting about the story. Colorist Marcelo Maiolo accents the sensuality in the relationship between the Demon and Madame Xanadu. As the Demon sweeps Xanadu off her feet, Nieves, probably as a risqué direction from Cornell, Maiolo sheathes those gorgeous gams in sweet, shaded fleshtones. In other words, Gggggrrrrrrrrr.

Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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