Joshua Hale Fialkov and Matt Triano’s “The Devilers” #1 opens with a text-heavy rundown of a trio of demonic events being debunked by the issue’s main character, Father Malcolm O’Rourke. In the midst of an interview, O’Rourke is interrupted with a most urgent request to respond to a disaster that has set the Vatican aflame.
Fialkov keeps the interviewer, Lieb, from becoming the point of view character of “The Devilers” #1, choosing to stay independent from any one character. That allows the writer to take the scenes depicted through a television broadcast and transport the reader to the Vatican to witness the holy hell firsthand and then bounce back to Lieb’s conversation with O’Rourke without ever losing any details or drama. As the interview occurs, Cardinal David Michael Reed, the chief exorcist for the Catholic Church appears, begging O’Rourke to answer his plea. Fialkov rounds out the comic book with a further sampling of the horrors set lose in the Vatican and the gathering of a collection of other religious specialists to team with O’Rourke in a manner that opens up the action, dramatically stages the horror and sets up the next issue through a dynamic splash page.
The art from Matt Triano, with colors from Mark Roberts, excels when the demonic beings and their deeds are depicted. Roberts unleashes reds and oranges to raise the temperature of the pages and fill in the frequent gaps of scenery Triano leaves behind. Much of the setting in “The Devilers” #1 involves rubble, and the artist makes a few choices to pull back from depicting detailed brokenness, choosing instead to push the characters forward. While it occasionally pays off, the art looks incomplete at times — or, worse yet, the close-ups are simply oddly cropped and look poorly planned. While he excels drawing demonic hordes, Triano’s figures are inconsistent, rigid and weird. At points, it looks like there is a lack of communication between Triano and Roberts. The forms and the shapes are present, but the depth and detail is more often lacking than not. This adds to the rigidity in the characters and effectively neuters more than a few expressions on the characters’ faces. With the cast and the setting truly being established in this comic book, I’m hopeful the art will find a better balance and Triano will be able to showcase his abilities with greater, more consistent success.
The quick way to describe “The Devilers” #1 in one word would be weird. Like a mystical, horror-filled “Ocean’s 11,” the assembly of the others is almost completely logical, especially with hell literally erupting. In addition to O’Rourke, Lieb and Reed, the cast is filled out with Rabbi Brenda Davide, Samir Patel, Raab Al-Fayed and Chun-Bai, each of whom receives little more than a passing introduction. This is not quite the same comic book investigation of religion as Marvel’s “The Life of Pope John Paul II,” but the Pope’s book didn’t have a giant frog flipping the bird to a member of the clergy. “The Devilers” #1 has an interesting premise and manages to not lose itself in exposition, making it a decent landing spot for readers looking for something new that is tinged with horror, adventure and dark humor.