It’s fitting that Demon Knights has Jason Blood/Etrigan as one of the central figures of the book, as it manages to oscillate from incredibly entertaining and witty to profoundly boring, stereotypical and drawn out. I want desperately to enjoy the book for its great bits, but there’s just too much mediocrity sprinkled throughout for me to ignore. Up to this point, pretty much every scene with Shining Knight has been golden, Vandal Savage has been spectacularly entertaining, and the Jason Blood/Etrigan scenes that don’t involve their relationship with Madame Xanadu are everything Etrigan should be.
And then there’s everyone else who, after multiple readings, I still couldn’t even remember the names of without looking them up (Al Jabr, Exoristos and The Horsewoman according to Wikipedia, if you’re curious).
Demon Knights #5 is more of the same. The previous issue’s betrayal-infused cliffhanger resolves without consequence, new characters are developed and killed off again, and again a knight seemingly betrays the party, only after the villains tempted each of the knights with their perceived desires.
For every vaguely interesting character development or piece of backstory that is teased out, we get a plot that feels written perfectly for a teenager’s weekly D&D campaign.
The high fantasy D&D feel wouldn’t be so horrible if it didn’t seem that Paul Cornell went to the Bendis school of decompression as well: Almost everything has been build-up until, perhaps, the last page of this issue. We’re at the fifth issue of an adventure comic starring a band of ridiculous warriors in the middle-ages that includes a demon, an immortal, an amazon, a wizard and a millenia-old knight, complete with an army led by evil wizards and I’m bored.
Now, brilliant art can and has saved a boring comic for me, but Diogenes Neves art here is all over the map. There are panels that are good, but rarely a whole page or even a couple pages worth of panels stand out in each issue.
It’s not that the art is bad at all, it’s just painfully mediocre (and Vandal Savage seems to have some serious problems managing his weight between panels).
I thought I’d culled most of the disappointing titles of the New 52 from my pull list after their second issues, but it looks like I was wrong. I’ve been a fan of Arthurian legends for years and Etrigan and the Shining Knight are easily two of my favorite underused characters, which is probably why I’ve stuck with Demon Knights as long as I have, but I don’t anticipate making it past the end of this story arc, if I even pick up the next issue.
Perhaps DC’s commitment to diversity includes producing disappointing genre titles to drive more readers toward their superheroes? If you absolutely need a high fantasy comic, though, I guess you should be reading Demon Knights?
Myself, I think I’ll pick up my copy of Seven Soldiers or The Demon Omnibus the next time I want to read the adventures of Etrigan or the Shining Knight. Should I expect more from Demon Knights than an average D&D campaign with DC licensed characters? Should you?
David Fairbanks doesn’t get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books, and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.