Have you ever felt like a comic needed a different title to better reflect what it is, and perhaps bring in more readers? Because with each issue of “Demon Knights,” to me it’s increasingly clear that this isn’t really a book called “Demon Knights.” Rather, it’s “Justice League Medieval.”
Now that he’s brought the team (begrudgingly) together, Paul Cornell is having fun with his mixture of established and new faces. The main focus is still on Etrigan and Madame Xanadu, but everyone gets their own moment in the spotlight. Exoristos the Amazon, in particular, gets a lot of face time here, and she’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters. She inspires a villager to be brave, saves the Shining Knight’s steed, and generally kicks butt. With each issue Cornell is giving us a bit more about her, and her strong personality is quickly stealing scenes. Even the least developed of the seven characters, the Horsewoman, appears to deliberately have an air of mystery about her. We’re getting some tiny hints about her abilities and limitations already, and the hooks are enough to make me interested.
“Demon Knights” is also a fairly brutal book; perhaps it’s because of its medieval setting, but it feels like Cornell’s able to get away with a lot more here than one could in other comics. Madame Xanadu’s price for her protection spell from last issue’s conclusion is a heavy one, Etrigan’s attack on a priest is a little horrific, and the end of this issue is a nasty reminder about the difference in abilities between our heroes and an average person. This is a dangerous world, and the cast of “Demon Knights” serve as the only thing protecting the average person from it.
Even the villains are getting some nice scenes here; they’re hovering more toward the edges of this issue (and that’s a good thing, because it’s letting us get to know the main characters some more) but when they do show up, Cornell writes them as smart, not the typical megalomaniacal villain that fails to think things through. “Demon Knights” reminds me a lot of Cornell’s run on “Captain Britain and MI:13,” and I say that in the most positive way possible.
Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert are turning out nice middle of the road art for “Demon Knights.” Their rendition of a withered Madame Xanadu makes her look frail and old, a fine contrast to the Horsewoman’s crisp and clean features. They’ve got some nice little details too, like the bit of spit coming out of Vandal Savage’s mouth as he laughs, or the overlapping hexagons coming out of the magical viewing device. Neves also does a particularly good job with the Shining Knight, drawing her so that while she’s just the right mix of androgyny, enough that the casual person would think she’s merely a young boy while not so overly feminine that her identity would be a drop-dead giveaway.
“Demon Knights” is fun and it’s providing a nice little punch each issue to make me want to read more. It might not have the flashiest of titles to lure people in, but those who do take a gander will be pleasantly surprised. Each issue is stronger than the one before, and there’s a real wealth of potential for what’s to come. If you haven’t given it a try yet, “Demon Knights” is well worth your while.