The seven members of the “Demon Knights” cast of protagonists (hereafter collectively referred to simply as “Knights”) take individual twirls in the spotlight this issue, as the Questing Queen and Mordru extend offers to each of them individually. The Queen and Mordru hope to severely sway the battle to their own court, but they underestimate the resolve of the band of seven.
The seven have their individual doubts about the logic of standing their ground against the Queen’s Horde, and Paul Cornell seizes each of those bits of uncertainty to allow Mordru and the Queen in. In the process, Cornell also reveals a little more of each character. The most dramatic of those revelations involve Exoristos’ origin (which many a fan has already guessed) and the method by which the Horsewoman mounts her steed.
The art could have been a little more solid in the scene depicting the Horsewoman taking her saddle, but Diogenes Neves tends to keep the camera angle straight throughout the book, so it fits stylistically. The angle, multiple figures and glowing lines transmit great ingenuity (for the time) from the Horsewoman, but the depiction of it on page falls flat. Thankfully, this is the only scene that comes up short. Neves and inker Oclair Albert stuff significant amounts of detail into the panels of this issue, from the warts and bumps on Etrigan’s noggin to the consternation and sorrow etched into the faces of the villagers.
Neves is given the opportunity to draw the “wallbreaker,” another “dragon,” that has a purpose and countenance worthy of its name. In that single panel, Neves displays noteworthy talent that made me stop to analyze the page and appreciate Neves’ Kubert-esque style. With Neves on task, the book looks medieval. In this case, that’s a good thing.
The big reveal of this issue, however, is the identity of a traitor in the midst of the Knights. The traitor selected is surprising, yet expected. I thought we’d see someone else commit to subterfuge, if for no other reason than that it would have been less expected. Given the last-minute reveal in this issue, though, I have a sneaky suspicion that even the traitor’s true allegiances have yet to be fully revealed.
I was unimpressed with the first couple issues of this title, but decided to check in on it again. Much of the core of the series is unchanged from the first issue — the creators, characters and setting — but to this point, each of the characters has evolved a bit. Cornell is settling into the cast, as are his visual counterparts. The creative team is gelling, the protagonist team is splintering and it all makes for an enjoyable comic that is distinct from much of the rest of the new books on the racks. With the traitor revealed and the Horde descending upon the village, now is the time to check back in if you’ve strayed from this book.