After a ridiculously fun issue last month, Demon Knights quickly became on of my favorite series in the new 52. It has everything I want in a comic book: detailed art with lively facial expressions, witty banter, complex character relationships, and people throwing dragons at things. So, when I grabbed my stack of comics this week, it was hard not to tear into Demon Knights first. I knew this was going to be a great issue, but I didn't want to start with this and make all my other comics feel less awesome in comparison. Demon Knights is the sort of book that needs to be saved for last.
This issue picks up right where the last one left off, which means our heroes have some dragons to fight. Writer Paul Cornell manages to take something that would already be a blast and make it even more fun, and the scene should have readers laughing by its second page. In the midst of all the hilarious, madcap action, there's some very nice world building- especially when it comes to the concept of magic. Even the beasties themselves are expanded on- they're not heraldic dragons, but true dragons, which seem to look an awful lot like dinosaurs. I'm a pretty big fan of dinosaurs to begin with, so the idea of them spewing fire and trying to chomp down on peasants is just awesome to me.
If Cornell keeps this up, Vandal Savage is easily going to become one of my favorite characters in comics. He fires off line after hilarious line, slowing down only to enjoy his tasty dragon meat. His gleeful expression as he completed Etrigan's rhyme was worth paying $2.99 for, and seeing him block arrows with a drumstick was merely icing on the cake. And while Vandal Savage may have stolen the show, the rest of the cast got chances to shine as well. We got hints of what Al Jabr might be able to do in the first issue, but he really proved his worth here. He seems to have an endless supply of secret weapons and other useful devices, and seems to have a wealth of knowledge at his disposal as well. I'm still convinced he'll be the book's connection to Stormwatch, and I'm looking forward to seeing if my theories about him hold true.
In the hands of the wrong writer, a character like Exoristos could come across as one-dimensional and unlikable, but Cornell makes her absolutely charming. The panel pictured above is easily one of my favorites of the week. We didn't just see Ystina, but Vanguard as well. I'm hoping we'll get to hear from him a little in the next issue, and I'm REALLY hoping we'll see the name Horsefeathers. And of course, I can't mention the book's cast without acknowledging its wonderful take on Etrigan, who does get a few chances to rhyme in this issue. I think his rhymes feel more special when we only see them on occasion, and I definitely wouldn't want them to get in the way of his dialogue with Madame Xanadu.
Artist Diogenes Neves and inker Oclair Albert already proved their talent last month, but this issue really shows off Neves' his ability to craft a good fight scene. There are some beautiful moments of visual storytelling, and the energy level of the book remains high throughout. He draws some magnificent looking beasts and makes the ways our characters defeat them look even more interesting. The wonderful background details also continue in this issue. If you don't notice Vandal Savage when looking at a page, take a minute and search for him. He'll probably be doing something that'll make you smile. Jared K. Fletcher does a terrific job of lettering the issue, and Marcelo Maiolo's colors are rich and vibrant.
I urge anyone who missed out on Demon Knights last month to give this issue a go. Whether you're into fantasy or not, this is one of the best team books being published, and is an absolute blast to read. Cornell does great character work without ever slowing the book down on the action front, and packs plenty of story into the issue as well. It's full of laughs, ridiculously quotable lines, and makes fantasy accessible in a way that few books do. Once again, in the spirit of Etrigan, I'll conclude this review with a rhyme:
Demon Knights #1 was a delight
From Vandal Savage to the Shining Knight
And Demon Knights #2 proves the fun is non-stop
Pick it up from your local comic shop