DEMONIC #1 (of 6) – Comic Review
DEMONIC is a new series from Christopher Sebela (Hellraiser, the excellent High Crimes, Captain Marvel, more), Niko Walter (The Accelerators), and Dan Brown (Lobo, Punisher, X-men, tons of others). It’s a gritty hard-boiled style detective story that easily sheds the yoke of noire standards and proves itself to be excellent in its own right. This series is going to get HEAVY and I can’t wait.
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Title: DEMONIC #1 (of 6)
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Niko Walter/Dan Brown
Cover Artist: Niko Walter/Dan Brown
Publisher: IMAGE Comics
Release Date: August 17, 2016
Snap up your copy of Demonic #1 (of 6) (Cover A – Walter & Brown) and have it delivered to your doorstep by a hellion of your choice!
The first thing you notice about DEMONIC is the beautiful cover art. It mixes bold block colors, fine hatch-lines, and off-kilter perspective in a way that is reminiscent of some of the best movie covers of the late 50’s to mid-60’s (see: anything by the iconic Saul Bass). The inner title page continues the motif. Consider me immediately engaged.
The next thing you notice about DEMONIC is that the story-art is either extremely busy or hauntingly simple. Panes reveal cluttered rooms rendered in muted tones, forcing the eye to focus first on what the artists want you to see, and then stray to attempt to take in every intricate detail. This being a detective story, the instinct is to want to absorb every line to make sure nothing is missed. The art and layout is also incredibly center-line oriented. Most of the focus exists in the center of the page, and the panes are laid out accordingly. This brings an interesting sense of order to the chaos that is ripping through the characters as the story unfolds.
Oh, right, the story. DEMONIC’s story is just as dense and well laid out as its art. Characters come to life immediately and read as believable human beings who joke, react to stimulus, contemplate and agonize; you or I, given the right environment. We open on a busy city-scape in a vaguely ambiguous time. Everything seems to be now but looks as though it might be the dusky 70’s or even the later 50’s, when hard-boiled detectives walked around in half-shadow chasing dames and big-bads. Our hero Scotty, a seemingly recently-domesticated detective, and his partner Det. Fischer banter back and forth as they respond to a routine call about a domestic disturbance. As they approach the location a body explodes on the concrete in front of them in a rain of blood and gore. Excellent. Scotty tells his partner to hang back and rushes in alone after exchanging some cryptic words with the apartment’s occupant.
Once inside, Scotty confronts the woman, who is wearing a blood-covered and gorgeously rendered demon mask, and a bathrobe, similarly decorated. She caresses an axe as she spews words about a demonic cult and some implied shared history between the two. The scene breathes tension and finally explodes into violence. From here the story explores Scotty’s family, history, his connection to the demonic world, and eventually sees him essentially forced to don the mantle of some sort of evil superhero type who kills at the command of a creepy blonde controller. We don’t know how the kill-ee’s are chosen at this point and it will be interesting to see how the series reconciles the overtly evil hero with the supposedly good regular-guy in the same body. Something tells me it will not be a pleasant journey for our hero.
DEMONIC #1 is a heavy intro to a series. It mixes standard horror and noire elements with a cerebral and almost desperate emotional bent. From cover to back-page DEMONIC carries a weight and a tension that is often hard to pull off in the comic world, and carries it very well. It’s obvious that issues 2-6 are going to be gut wrenching and I have no doubt they will carry the current level of quality through to the very end.
Also: be sure to read the afterword by Sebela. It offers some well laid out insight into what he’s trying (and succeeding so far) to achieve with this story arc.
Look for Demonic #2 (of 6) out Sept 21, 2016.