Demon Knights: Paul Cornell, Bernard Chang, Marcelo Maiolo, Jared K. Fletcher
It appears as though the “team” books are all focusing on one or two characters for the Zero Issue. Earth 2 had Terry Sloan, Batman and Robin was Damian, Stormwatch was Jenny Quantum. Demon Knights, the original Stormwatch, is Etrigan.
The story focuses on the demon who came from nothing. Lucifer plays a large part, and he seems primarily focused on making sure he’s entertained during his life in Hell. I think that’s how the whole “rhyming demon” thing started. As many fans know, Etrigan is forced to speak in rhyme. After the relaunch, that was cast aside as it is now merely a hard habit to break. Apparently, in order to make sure Lucifer remained entertained, and to keep good favor with the king of Hell, he had to rhyme everything he said.
Turns out he used to suck at it. Like bad. This amuses me, seeing Etrigan like this…a pathetic failure. It helps to show what he grew from, what he’s fighting against. After being humiliated by Lucifer, Etrigan swears to the demon N’aall - yes, that N’aall from Justice League Dark! - to fight against the king in revolt.
Meanwhile, on Earth, we see the inner rage that consumes Jason of Norwich. He wants to be something, to write his own poems or whatever, instead of being forced to transcribe others’. Merlin is testing him, but Jason cannot see it. He’s kind of a prick. He gets into big trouble when he touches King Arthur.
Looks like Etrigan and Jason share flaws. They’re brash, they’re thick-headed, and they’re fueled by anger and a desire to be greater than they are now. The parallels the story draws are well done. Worried about Jason, Merlin visits Morgaine Le Fey on neutral ground, where she predicts Jason’s rage will drive him to do terrible things.
So then…both Merlin and Lucifer have a problem: an unruly follower who doesn’t want to necessarily follow anymore. Someone driven to emotional, unnecessary action on a whim. Merlin visits Lucifer - who calls Merlin his son - and proposes a solution.
And that is how Merlin got Etrigan onto Earth to be bonded to Jason. Also Stormwatch’s “The Eye” daemonite spaceship attacks Camelot. Cool, huh?
Chang’s art was impressive in his run on DC Universe Presents, and I was hoping to see more of his Vandal Savage in this issue, but that didn’t really happen. Instead, he provides a stylistic look to Etrigan, Lucifer, and Merlin that I did enjoy. I thought Hell could’ve been more “Hellish,” as there wasn’t much to the backgrounds - plenty of opportunity to show off the terrors of Hell. Maiolo provides expert coloring, as usual, when you think about how half of this book is in different shades of red and orange.
Demon Knights #0, the verdict: I did like it. I loved the reversal of seeing Etrigan, a proud and powerful character, reduced to a whining nobody. I liked seeing the first interaction between Etrigan and Jason…and how they quickly came to understood each other. It’s a good show of character for Jason to have stood up to Etrigan so quickly and assertively. I have to admit, the book didn’t feel as charming or light-hearted as it normally does…and I think that’s to do with the fact that the other Knights characters were absent, and a lot of that charm comes from their interactions. Though the inclusion of N’aall was funny, and I’m wondering if we’re going to see more of this character in the future.
(Photo Source: DC Comics)