Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fantasy Fiction Tuesday: Demon Knights, Vol. 1 (2011)

Currently, DC and I have a very complicated relationship. I love DC's characters and preferred its fictional universe to Marvel's for the most part. Unfortunately, the New 52 happened and the company started to do some questionable things (like the abuse of their creative staff, the mishandling of numerous characters, generally bad decisions, etc.). Eventually, I ended up jumping ship and hopped onto the Marvel bandwagon. 

While I have some very strong opinions about the New 52, I would be lying if I said nothing good came of it. There were a number of titles from the first and second waves that I absolutely loved. Demon Knights was one of those titles. 

Initially written by Paul Cornell with art by Diogenes Neves, Demon Knights is set during Medieval times after the fall of Camelot. Jason Blood (Etrigan the Demon's human host) and the powerful sorceress Madame Xanadu arrive in a small village that just so happens to be the next target for an evil queen's vicious horde. Hoping to defend the town from these invaders, Blood and Xanadu team up with a more barbaric Vandal Savage, Sir Ystin the Shining Knight, a Middle Eastern fighter and tactician named Al Jabar, the mysterious rider known simply as the "Horsewoman", and the Amazon warrior Exoristos. Can this ragtag ban of adventurers save this village from a horrible fate, or will they become the newest victims of the Questing Queen's forces? 

Demon Knights is an uncomplicated, incredibly entertaining title that focused on lesser known DC characters. Within this volume, we have Vandal Savage (before becoming a villain) fighting magically enhanced dinosaurs, ripping their heads off with his bare hands and talking about how tasty they are. How could that be anything but awesome? While it has its darker and more serious moments, Demon Knights always managed to balance it with humor and a good sense of fun. 

The characters are also fantastic. We have the aforementioned Vandal Savage, who is less sophisticated than his modern version and truly lives up to the "Savage" part in his name. However, we also have the relationship between Jason Blood and Xanadu, wondering if her feelings for him are true or does she really love Etrigan. There's also the Celtic knight Sir Ystin, who happens to be transgender and from a much older version of Camelot (long story made short: there are multiple Camelots in DC's history) and Exoristos, who left Themyscira for reasons that remain a mystery and make you want to learn more about them. Each member of this team is unique and interesting, which is a bonus for this kind of book. 

 Unfortunately, Demon Knights ended its run last August due low sells. There are probably a few factors that led to this. Generally, straight fantasy stories generally don't fair so well within the comic industry. Secondly, the concept is kind of strange and I can understand a lot of normal readers being hesitant to pick it up. Finally, I also wasn't a fan of it connecting to the modern day stories with Demon Knights being the ancestors to the Stormwatch, but that's just a nitpick because I preferred Demon Knights as its own, separate entity. 

Even though the comic series has ended, you can still pick up the trade collections. While I don't like the idea about supporting DC at the moment, I have to so more people can read an awesome series like this. If you love fantasy, superheroes, and fun adventures stories, you'll love Demon Knights