The Justice League is great, but there is a whole slew of characters in the DC Universe outside of our good friends Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and Green Lantern. There’s literally an encyclopedia full of hundreds of them. They range in size, shape and importance.
Among all those characters, there’s one who has always stood out to me. You won’t see him rescuing cats out of a tree or helping an old lady across the street. No. This guy spends his time in the dark corners of the DCU. You have to look into the shadows to find him…
As a man, he’s known as Jason Blood, but after speaking the cursed words, he becomes the Demon, Etrigan!
I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always really liked Jason Blood and Etrigan. The dapper dressed man with a streak of white in his hair, who would transform into this menacing creature after saying certain words, is just so cool. I love the Jekyll and Hyde feel to his character and as someone who doesn’t have a huge library, there’s kind of a cool mystery to him—so it’s a treat when he pops up in books. Don’t get me wrong, though, he’s had some great times in the limelight in books by Jack Kirby and the Garth Ennis and John McCrea run from the ’90’s! (For another perspective on Etrigan, you should read author Glen David Gold’s post on Jack Kirby and the Demon.)
So when DC announced they would be publishing a new Demon miniseries, THE DEMON: HELL IS EARTH, I was really excited. I love that they’re exploring and giving characters like this a run. It allows for fans like me to read a book with a favorite of theirs as the star and it might even spark the interest of someone new to the character.
So, let’s dive into issue one…
First (and I’m not just saying this), I really enjoyed this issue.
The strength of the book is the way writer Andrew Constant structures the story. You’re drawn in by the first page, which consists of three panels and has you curious to know what the Hell is going on.
What Constant does really well is create a mystery around Jason Blood/Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, an unknown little girl, a military official that re-routes a nuclear missile and an enigmatic villain. Your brain starts putting the pieces together that all these people are connected in some way, but you don’t know how. All you know is that strange dreams (premonitions, maybe?) are leading everyone to Death Valley—which seems to be the catalyst to the story.
It’s all tied together through Brad Walker’s art, which is kind of a slow, but satisfying, burn. It grows on you with every page you turn. He hits his stride when we see Jason watching the missile hurtle to Earth. There’s some really nice inking and speed lines that lead up to a cool splash page of the mushroom cloud created by the explosion—just check those faces in the dust. I think Walker’s strength is how he draws Etrigan—particularly the panel work when Etrigan comes to the aid of the little girl and fights her now-evil family!
Truth be told, I was a little bummed that Etrigan wasn’t rhyming from the get-go, but it was cool that Constant acknowledges that in the book and eventually has our yellow-skinned monster talking like himself.
The missile’s purpose is to crack our dimension in some way so that the bad guy can emerge, and presumably, whatever comes out of the crack has the ability to turn people evil. It’s a really cool angle that builds on some of the big anxieties of today, but doesn’t seem exploitative. I also thought it was awesome that the villain isn’t revealed to us just yet.
That point actually had me wondering a bit. Were Etrigan and Jason separated during the explosion? Or was that some sort of evil version of Jason that rose from the blast? Maybe the villain coming out of the crack is some kind of evil version of Etrigan…?
It’s always good when a book leaves you on a cliffhanger because it has you asking questions and wanting more, and suffice it to say, for this Demon fan, issue two can’t come soon enough!
Matt Ross writes about Rebirth for DCComics.com and covers Arrow for the #DCTV Couch Club.