It's a testament to how fast paced Demon Knights has felt that this issue felt like a bit of a breather. Sure, people may have been dragged to hell, heraldic dragons may have been dodged, and the enemy may have upped the ante, but this issue still took things slowly compared to last month's dragon slicing delight. While I always enjoy a rollicking good action scene, it was nice to get a better understanding of characters like Vandal Savage and Shining Knight. I have already gotten sick of double checking how to spell Exoristos' name, but she's growing on me more and more with each issue, and I suspect she'll be a favorite of mine before long. At times, Demon Knights feels like the truest team book on the stands. Paul Cornell seems to really appreciate why people enjoy team books so much, and does a great job handling the character balancing act.
One of the things that I've loved about Demon Knights from the start is its sense of fun, and while that's still there, I felt as though there was a little more harshness to this issue. I realize that's a silly thing to say about a book that blew up a baby halfway through its #1, but it's more about how these moments felt then what they were. No one reading this issue will be forgetting that Etrigan is a demon anytime soon, and people may regard seemingly sweet moments with a lot more suspicion. I don't expect the sacrifice Madame Xanadu made to last, but that she was willing to make it all the same is a pretty impressive moment for her character. Of course, given her duplicitous nature, there could be more to her actions than what we readers have seen. I appreciate that our villains, while very evil, don't seem to be stock characters or fools set up to fail against our characters. However, that probably means that there will be plenty more loss and bloodshed before this battle is through.
I'm becoming more and more curious about how Cornell will keep this crew together once they're no longer stuck protecting this town. None of them are really the team type- I think that's kind of the point- and there definitely hasn't been anything in the way of cliched bonding moments. Right now, I can only envision them sticking together if they're dropped headfirst from one adventure to the next in a sort of neverending cycle. I can't say I'd mind reading about that, but it'll be interesting to see if the book goes in that direction or comes up with a different sort of solution. I would like to see more friendships develop between the book's cast, even if they're screwed up, twisted ones.
The detail in Diogenes Neves' work continues to blow me away with every issue. He works in so many subtle moments that make the book a more entertaining read, from the reactions in the background of one of Vandal Savage's rousing speeches to the perfectly designed Madame Xanadu doll that Mordru clutches. His facial expressions have been great from the beginning, but for me, this issue is the best they've ever been, with nearly every character showcasing a wide range of emotions. He's the perfect match for Cornell's style of writing, and I hope these two keep working together in the future. Likewise, Marcelo Maiolo and Oclair Albert do beautiful work here. It's just a great creative team all around.
Once again, I urge any and all fans of team books to pick up Demon Knights, regardless of their feelings about fantasy tales. It may not have a member of the Batfamily, but that doesn't mean it can't give Justice League a run for its money. As always, in honor of Etrigan, this review will conclude with a rhyme:
Just as things begin to look futile
Demon Knights #3 gets even more brutal
Etrigan has a chance to show his wrath
And comes off looking like a psychopath
But there are still plenty of smiles to be found
And Vandal Savage is almost profound