Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Classics - The Demon #1

It's 1972, and Kirby is struggling.

(I don't know that to be true, this is just my gut feeling.)

After his triumphant move to DC Comics, writer / artist / creator Jack Kirby exploded with new ideas and concepts - ones that are still echoing at DC today (just as his work at Marvel does). The New Gods, Mister Miracle, the Forever People, Darkseid - the list goes on and on.

But just as suddenly as the wave hit, it went away. The New Gods and the Forever People were - shockingly, unexpectedly - canceled, and Mister Miracle only avoided the ax for a short time longer.

In their place, Kirby had to dream up new concepts - perhaps something a bit easier for new readers to grasp. He would soon add his longest-running title in the form of Kamandi, but first he created the strangest title in his run at DC - The Demon.

I'm still not sure what to make of the character, especially considering the look is entirely swiped from the comic strip Prince Valiant, as the title character disguised himself to look like a demon.

No disguises here, though - the story kicks off during the fall of Camelot, as the Demon Etrigan serves the magician Merlin. Just before the evil Morgaine Le Fey succeeds in stealing the Eternity Book, Merlin changes Etrigan into the form of a man and sends him into the world to protect a vital part of the book.

The story then flashes forward to the present, where we meet Jason Blood, a demonologist whose life is full of mystery and strange companions. He is, of course, actually Etrigan - who doesn't appear again until the final page.

Kirby was trying his hand at horror in a mainstream comic, but it was a strange and rambling tale that never really came together. It's the age-old problem with magic-based stories: since magic operates by its own rules, anything is possible - and it takes away a lot of the suspense behind the action.

None of this is to say that The Demon is a bad comic - far from it. It's loaded with amazing, gripping visuals, incredible battle sequences and lots of twists and turns.

But of the work Kirby did at DC - excepting some odd stories like Sandman - this is probably the least of his creations.

When you consider that the Demon is still an active part of the DC Universe, that says a lot for the creative genius of Kirby (as if there were any doubts).

Grade: B+


1 comment:

Glen Davis said...

Kirby had a pretty good run in First Issue Special. His revival of Manhunter was pretty good,and his Atlas wasn't bad either.