Archive for Demon Knights

Undercover Brothers

Batman #10

Spoilers if you haven’t seen this issue. Not that I’m sure it matters, ’cause everyone’s talking about it. But spoilers anyway.

The Court of Owls is almost completely shut down, leading to the Batman tracking their inner circle to their hideout — and arriving to find all of them dead by poison. So that’s the case wrapped up, right? Maybe not — Bats realizes he’s missed a clue, and it leads him to a long-deserted insane asylum just for children, closed after scandals about child abuse. And there, Batman finds the supposedly dead Lincoln Marsh, who injected himself with the Talon serum so he’d be able to resurrect himself.

Lincoln tells Batman that his mother had been injured in a car accident before he was born, and his parents secretly placed him in the children’s home, which had a good reputation when he was a child, in order to keep him safe from the family’s enemies. But when his parents were killed by a lone gunman in Crime Alley, he was forgotten and suffered years of abuse and neglect until he was taken in by the Court of Owls. He tells Batman that his real name is Thomas Wayne Jr., and he’s the new Owlman.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story, with good action, great tension and mood, nice dialogue, and a pretty good twist. I’m not all that bugged by Bruce Wayne having a long lost brother — Superman’s supposed to be the last Kryptonian, and no one complains about all his relatives who’ve survived. The “legend of the Bat” wasn’t too badly damaged when everyone thought Dr. Hurt might be Bruce’s father, and I don’t see Thomas Wayne Jr. as a particularly bad plot development. My only concern is that there are a lot of revelations going on lately about the Bat family — the deaths of the Flying Graysons kept Dick Grayson from being turned into a Talon, Dick’s own great-grandfather is a Talon, Mr. Freeze’s Nora isn’t actually his wife, etc. They need to slow the shocking revelations down, or they’ll lose their ability to shock.

The Amazing Spider-Man #687

Dr. Octopus is mentally controlling the Avengers as they attack Spidey, the Black Widow, Silver Sable, and the temporarily turncoat Mysterio. After Mysterio finally deactivates the Octobots with an electromagnetic pulse, the rest of the Avengers go to work trying to stop Doc Ock’s satellites before he can use them to burn the Earth to a cinder. Spidey and Silver Sable head for Ock’s secret hideout to keep him from activating the satellite web, but run into Rhino, who’s willing to let the world be destroyed because he still hasn’t gotten over his wife’s death — and he’s willing to make sure that he and Silver Sable drown. Spidey runs on to confront Dr. Octopus, but he may not be strong enough to escape the villain’s new and improved robot arms. Is there any way for Peter to save the world and make sure no one dies in the catastrophe?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, good action — heck, there’s a lot packed into this issue. It feels like it’s a double-sized comic, but it isn’t. Any time you can make a regular-length comic feel like an annual, that’s pretty dang good.

Demon Knights #10

After foiling a bunch of pirates who sail the seas on top of a giant sea monster, our heroes get into the main story. They’ve traveled to a town under siege by giant, savage monsters — and they all seem to be coming from the ancient ruins of Camelot! As they ride toward the old castle, they’re attacked by a giant wolf which, when defeated, turns into a normal wolf. All the animals around, in fact, appear to have been changed into giant monsters. When they finally reach Camelot, they discover it’s been turned into a foreboding citadel, and they’re attacked by the resurrected corpse of King Arthur himself! But before they can do anything about the zombie king, all the team but Madame Xanadu are themselves changed into giant monsters!

Verdict: Thumbs up, even if only for Vandal Savage’s hilarious line: “Look! It’s a pirate sea serpent! That is something I have never shouted before!

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War of the Monsters

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8

Behind the breakup of the marriage of Frankenstein and Lady Frankenstein lies a tragedy — Father Time figured out how to combine their DNA to create a child for them. But the baby woke up in his test tube terrified and angry. He lashed out and almost killed Lady Frankenstein before Frankenstein put a bullet through its brain. And Lady Frankenstein has never forgiven Frank for not giving her a chance to calm the child down. But against all odds, the baby, who was hidden in cold storage inside the S.H.A.D.E. headquarters, is alive and has escaped back to Earth, where its holed up inside Castle Frankenstein. They’re not happy about Father’s deceit — and neither is the rest of the team. Ray Palmer, in fact, is so angry about it that he decides to recommend to the UN that they pull all funding from S.H.A.D.E.

Anyway, when Frank and Lady Frankenstein find the child, now grown up to adulthood, she makes him promise that he’ll give the child a chance this time. But the kid is still homicidal. Will Frankenstein be able to keep his promise? And what will be the final effect on S.H.A.D.E itself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good character work, fun art, and a nice break from the series’ mostly non-stop action. The story of Frankenstein has always been more tragedy than horror, so it’s cool to see that acknowledged this way.

Demon Knights #8

In the aftermath of the siege of Little Spring, we get a cool-down issue. The question is put to Madame Xanadu — how did she ever get into a dual relationship with both Jason Blood and the Demon? The story stretches from the golden age of Camelot through the dawning of Xanadu’s and Blood’s immortality. When they became lovers, the Demon eventually found out and was infuriated that the human he was bonded to would have any respite from his torture and unhappiness. But Xanadu convinced him that she would use her magic to find a way to separate him and Jason, and eventually decided to tell the Demon that she loved him. But is she telling the truth now?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good writing, good art, and a cleverly told story with a few nice twists.

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Golden Dreams

The Unwritten #35

Hmmm, how much can I say about this issue without spoiling all the good stuff? Probably not a lot. Tom Taylor has his great confrontation with Pullman. There’s some fighting and quite a bit of talking. Pullman reveals who he really is, who Tom really is, and what he really wants. The Leviathan makes its return, and we lose two of our cast members.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A masterful ending to this storyarc, and to quite a few other things in this series. Don’t miss it — and if you haven’t been reading this series, I really don’t know why you’ve been skipping it.

Batwoman #7

Batwoman finally catches up to the hook-handed madman who attacked Bette Kane weeks ago, and when she tears the hook out of his arm, she gets a major surprise when the hook itself starts talking to her. Meanwhile, while Jacob Kane continues to try to get through to his niece Bette, lost in a coma after being attacked, and while Cameron Chase of the D.E.O. tries to get Kate Kane to break a prisoner out of the Gotham P.D. under her girlfriend’s nose, Falchion, head of Medusa, assembles a team of urban legends with the aid of his wizard Maro — the aforementioned Hook, Killer Croc transmogrified into a mutated sewer alligator, La Llorona, the Crying Woman, who has been a villain in previous issues of this comic, and the truly terrifying Bloody Mary, summoned from a mirror and out of your nightmares. Don’t believe she’s scary?

Yeah, that’ll definitely keep me from chanting her name into a mirror.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Still the best looking comic on the stands — and it’s too bad that Amy Reeder will soon be departing this series. Besides that, we get excellent scenes with Jacob Kane, good relationship stuff with Maggie Sawyer, and Falchion’s amazingly creepy urban legends. Good stuff, and you better be reading this.

Demon Knights #7

We get an all-out, wall-to-wall battle in this issue. Jason Blood goes to Hell to find the one substance that can revive Madame Xanadu. Vandal Savage turns on Mordred and the Questing Queen to steal from them and save his own hide. The Horsewoman seeks aid in the nearest city. The Shining Knight faces the Queen in battle, and Xanadu duels Mordred. How will this battle turn out for everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action here is almost nonstop, and it all works out very, very well.

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Skin of my Tiefling

Dungeons & Dragons #15

As seems to be the standard state of affairs, things are not going well for Adric Fell and his band of adventurers. Adric and Bree the halfling rogue are getting chased by a beholder, Tisha the tiefling warlock has fallen down a chasm and found herself surrounded by hordes of monstrous kruthiks, and Khal the dwarven paladin and Varis the elven ranger are fighting off Danni (Khal’s girlfriend) and her shapeshifting homunculi. No spoilers for how they get out of these predicaments — but the solutions include teaming up with the kruthiks, kissing a dwarf, and opening a portal to a realm of Elemental Evil. All in a day’s work for Fell’s Five!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing but awesomeness all the way through. Tons of wonderful moments — Bree offering to stab Adric to help him run faster, Khal and Varis bantering in the midst of battle, the beholder saying “Pardon?” The sole disappointment I have with this issue was realizing that it’s one of the few series that IDW doesn’t promote. I mean, come on, it’s the best fantasy comic on the shelves, and you don’t wave signs about it? That’s crazy, man.

The Unwritten #34

Tom Taylor is done for — the Cabal has captured him and taken away his magic powers by enlisting a roomful of storytellers to read conflicting stories about him. But Lizzie Hexam and Richie Savoy have been listening in, and as soon as they realize he’s in trouble, they use the magic doorknob to take them to the storytellers, where they sow a ton of chaos and disrupt their ability to block his powers. With his powers back, Tom takes care of the Cabal’s inner circle, then summons the spirit of one of its dead members to interrogate it about what the Cabal is. And he learns the answers to everything can be found in the Cabal’s deepest basement by communing with something called the Sibyl. Will he learn the answers he needs?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, great action, good dialogue. This all feels like it’s leading up to something big. This series isn’t about to end, is it? It feels like it’s all working up to a conclusion…

Severed #7

Jack Garron has been captured by the salesman, who has engineered his entire journey to this point. He’s killed Jack’s best friend, he’s hidden him from the world, he’s taken one of his arms off, and he plans to eat Jack alive. And then Jack’s adoptive mother shows up on the doorstep, and the salesman decides to take care of her, too. With one arm lopped off, strung up in the basement, does Jack have a chance in hell of stopping an immortal cannibal?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good dialogue, excellent action, some outstanding plot twists. And in the end, perfectly, gloriously bleak horror. If you haven’t read any of this yet, I think you’ll certainly want to pick up the trade paperback when it’s released.

Demon Knights #6

With the army of the Questing Queen and Mordru laying siege to the village of Little Spring, our heroes have their work cut out for them. Exoristos the Amazon takes out some of the enemy’s siege-monsters, the Horsewoman mentally communicates with all the wild horses in the countryside, and Al Jabr’s crossbow-engines slaughter multitudes. But Exoristos is eventually cut down, the Horsewoman gets gravely injured, and the Horde finally breaks through the village’s defenses. Is there any hope to save the village?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yeah, this story is obviously being stretched out to fill a trade paperback, just like all of DC’s other comics, but at least this one feels appropriately epic in scope. Still, they’re going to have to make it worth sticking around for the eight issues it’s apparently going to take to complete this first storyarc.

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Into the Woods

Finally getting the last two weeks’ worth of comics reviewed… just in time to pick up new comics this afternoon. Siiiiigh.

Morning Glories #15

Zoe, Hunter, and Jun are participating in something called Woodrun, which involves them… running through the woods. Jun gets eliminated pretty quickly when he’s flagged by another team — no serious penalty, but he’s out of the game and has to go back to the campus. Hunter gets some friendly chatting done with a fellow geeky student, and Zoe reminisces about how her life went to hell in high school. The two students, who normally hate each other’s guts, get in a little time to talk to each other in a non-antagonistic fashion, and everything seems pretty hunky-dory. But nothing ever seems to turn out completely positive in this comic…

Verdict: Thumbs up. What a cliffhanger! On top of that, we’ve got good dialogue, good characterization, and more backstory for Zoe. It’s all good stuff — go grab it while you can.

Demon Knights #5

Our heroes are all undergoing more stress and disagreement as the night wears on, and the Questing Queen and Mordru take advantage by sending their astral bodies out to tempt the heroes to desert the villagers. Who will resist? And who will betray their companions?

Verdict: Thumbs up, but it was actually a lot less enjoyable than other issues. It’s just going on and on and on, and I think this storyarc could’ve been wrapped up faster than this. Writing for the trade makes for dull, over-long comics…

Secret Avengers #21

Looks like the whole Secret Avengers crew is along for the ride on this one. The team stages a fake emergency at the Office of National Emergency to try to track down an employee who is a secret agent of the Shadow Council. Once they get the mole to reveal themselves, they learn what the Shadow Council has been up to — secret breeding experiments to create human hybrids who could turn into terrifying and all-but unstoppable monsters — and those monsters are just seconds from waking up in the building’s basement. Any chance anyone can stop the unstoppable monsters?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice set-up, nice complications, nice solution. Not a lot of fancy characterization, but this is an action comic, and it definitely brings on the action.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5

Frankenstein and OMAC beat up on each other while Brother Eye tries to infiltrate

Verdict: Thumbs down. I don’t mind an all-fighting comic, but this was all-dumb-fighting, and I don’t like those at all.

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A Stab in the Darkness

Demon Knights #4

Most of this story is a flashback of the Shining Knight’s origin. She had sustained a fatal wound on the battlefield after the fall of Camelot when Merlin found her and gave her a sip from the Holy Grail, granting her immortality and an obsession with finding the Grail again. What’s Merlin’s connection to all of this? Well, he’s the sap who threw the Grail away. Will Sir Ystina rededicate herself to finding the Grail and redeeming the world? And what sort of unpleasantness awaits her once she emerges from her vision?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An offbeat issue, but nice to get a little more background on Ystina and the world around our heroes. And it’s interesting that she either names their little band of adventurers or identifies the alien forces opposing them.

Severed #5

Jack Garron, on the hunt to find his mysterious musician father, has lost his best friend Sam. He thinks she tried to steal from him, but she was actually killed by the Salesman, a psychotic with a set of shark teeth. Now Jack is traveling south with the Salesman and slowly learning that he isn’t everything he said he was. He won’t tell anyone his real name, and when Jack gets into trouble with a shady character on the road, the Salesman butchers the man with ease. How much danger is Jack in? Probably a lot…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice, dark, bleak, bloody story. Hard to figure out any way there’s going to be hope for Jack to escape all this unscathed… but if we remember the first issue, we actually know that he won’t…

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – Russia #4

The Russians are trying to keep an abomination from exploding out of the ground, so they’ve recruited Johann Kraus to go down into the mines and blow it up with a tacnuke. The complications include the monster sending wave after wave of zombies at the troops aboveground while it takes over the minds and bodies of the Russian soldiers accompanying Johann into the depths. Can a soldier’s sacrifice help Johann destroy the monster? And will the Russians destroy Johann just to make sure the threat is ended?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Hopeless situations, bleak outlook, certain death, noble but doomed sacrifice, and tainted miracles — dadgum, it’s like reading Russian lit! And it’s a lot less wordy, so that’s a good thing…

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Frankenstein Conquers the World

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #3

Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos have finally met up with his ex-wife, the Bride — unfortunately, they’re all stuck on a planet full of chittering arachnoid monsters — and it’s all about to crash into Earth from another dimension. They’re really badly outnumbered, but Khalis the mummy unleashes some completely unexpected mystical powers to completely incinerate all the monsters on the entire continent. Unfortunately, there’s still one insanely gigantic Godzilla-sized spider monster they still have to fight. Even if they can stop it, do they have a chance to deal with the other two continents full of monsters, too?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of fighting, but we also get a little time for some characterization, some suspense, and some of Frankenstein’s wonderfully over-the-top pulpy dialogue. I do hope that Khalis won’t be used solely as a deus ex machina, though…

Demon Knights #3

With hordes of dragons and an enemy army attacking the village of Little Spring, Madame Xanadu uses the power of her own blood to fuel a spell to create a shield to protect the village. It weakens and ages her terribly, and Etrigan, infuriated that he may lose his lover for the sake of humans he doesn’t care about, attacks and maims a priest. The Horsewoman is seemingly able to pass through the mystic barrier, but she refuses to get off her horse to do any other preparations. Vandal Savage tries and mostly fails to teach the villagers how to fight. Exoristos lets a local girl sneak through the barrier to find helf for the village. And the Shining Knight continues to confound everyone around him. Um, her…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, but by far the best thing about this one so far is the wealth of characterization. Getting to know these guys as people is something I didn’t really think would be possible in the midst of several battles and a siege, but it’s working out quite well.

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Night of the Demon

Demon Knights #2

The village of Little Spring is under attack by dragons controlled by Mordru, but Etrigan and his new kinda-sorta team aren’t having too much trouble with them. Vandal Savage, in fact, is entirely delighted — he hasn’t gotten to eat a dragon in centuries, and he’s looking forward to dinner. We get introduced to a new character, the Horsewoman. The village prepares to evacuate before Mordru and the Questing Queen can attack again, but they’re far too late to stop yet another attack by more and stronger dragons.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The character work here is what’s really selling me on the series. Right now, there’s not a lot of plot, other than arguing and chopping up dragons. But the characterizations are pretty solid. And it looks like Vandal Savage and Shining Knight may be the breakout characters of the series.

The Unwritten #30

Tom Taylor meets his half-brother Milton while the old man is on his deathbed — but he gets a nasty surprise when someone else emerges from Milton’s body — the fictional Golden Age superhero the Tinker! The Tinker thinks Tom is his father, and the Tinker isn’t a big fan of Wilson Taylor. The Tinker is about to kill Tom when Frankenstein’s Monster and Tom’s winged cat Mingus intervene to help calm him down. But the Tinker is getting older as Milton gets closer to death — how long will he last, what can Frankenstein’s Monster do to help Tom and his friends, and what’s going to be the fallout from the worldwide murder spree the Cabal is engaged in?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great art, dialogue, and an ending to the Tinker storyarc that’s equal parts exciting and bittersweet.

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Prince of Demons

Demon Knights #1

In a story that starts with the fall of Camelot, we get to see Merlin bond the demon Etrigan to a lowly knight named Jason. After that, we jump forward a few centuries to the Dark Ages, we meet the heroes of our story as they pass through a small town — Jason Blood, the foul-mouthed Madame Xanadu, Vandal Savage, the Shining Knight, new characters called Al Jabr and Exoristos, and of course, Jason’s worse half, Etrigan. And they’ve got to save the world from the evil wizard Mordru. Holy cow, the world is going to get destroyed by Mordru!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not a lot of plot going on yet — we’re mostly just introducing characters. And it’s a great bunch of characters, too. I love the idea that Madame Xanadu is playing Jason and Etrigan against each other, and it’s also really great to see Sir Ystin again, after much too long since she appeared in Grant Morrison’s “Seven Soldiers” series. Looking forward to reading more of this one.

American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #4

Dr. Erik Pavel recounts that for the last few decades, he’s been on the trail of strange, gigantic figures that look like statues but are actually alive — ancient, powerful vampires in a state of hibernation. But normal vampires have been working very hard to destroy all these gigantic vampires over the years, and Pavel hopes that Felicia Book and Cash McCogan, members of the vampire-hunting Vassals of the Morning Star, can appreciate that they’re about to awaken, and that they’ll wipe out all the smaller, impure vampires in the world. And even worse, the Nazis and their Nazi vampires finally capture all three of them. Is there anything left that can save them from destruction at the fangs of the vampire hordes?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still exciting, still beautifully illustrated, and still worth shelling out the three bucks per issue for this series.

The Unwritten #29

Tom Taylor is still trying to discover what his father was doing in Brooklyn in the ’30s. He’d nurtured the talent of a beautiful comic book creator and fallen in love with her — but the Cabal wants her dead. The freewheeling stories in the unrestricted comics medium have too much power to break the Cabal’s control. Wilson Taylor does everything he can to persuade Miriam Walzer to give up the business and go into more mainstream art, but she’s dedicated to her craft. Can Wilson save her, or is it already too late for everyone?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The near-ending of this storyarc is full of a few noble hearts and how they all get crushed, trampled, abused, and destroyed. Not the prettiest tale, but definitely an effective one. Wilson Taylor’s plans for taming the comics industry is the type of thing that I’m a bit surprised DC agreed to publish — but maybe they’re focused solely on the Reboot and are ignoring Vertigo? And there are a few excellent twists at the end, too.

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