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The ’90s Revisited – The Demon Annual #1

90s_revisited

demon_annual_001Ex-Nihilo…Death!

Script: Alan Grant
Pencils: Joe Phillips & David Johnson
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Robbie Busch
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Dan Raspler
Cover Art: Joe Phillips
Cover Date: 1992
Cover Price: $3.00
Published by: DC Comics

Jason Blood and his pal Harry (some sort of human pillow?) arrive in San Francisco. Not long after, they’re attacked by some large creature and Jason is forced to call forth Etrigan to fight it. Meanwhile, some kid and his cat are on the scene stirring up some trouble of their own. Etrigan’s adversary is eventually recalled–apparently this was just a test for Etrigan by some old guy. The old guy is Nihilo, and he’s confronted by Jason and the kid–apparently his nephew–also known as Klarion (the witch boy). Nihilo regales his "guests" with his story, which comes down to his having been cursed with immortality by the cruelty of Eclipso. And with Eclipso apparently being back, Nihilo seeks death before Eclipso’s attention returns to exacerbate his suffering.

Klarion, however, attempts to invoke Eclipso to kill the Demon Etrigan. He winds up "eclipsed," along with Teekl (his cat), and we get another lengthy fight scene. Along the way, Eclipsed Klarion seems to burn out Nihilo’s eyes as punishment, and ultimately, Eclipso seems to have the Demon beat…but Harry intervenes, creating an illusion of sunrise, which spurs Eclipso to move Klarion and Teekl underground, abandoning the fight in favor of preserving his control over their magical bodies. Etrigan lives, and rides off with Harry and a large "The End" closing out the story.

I went into this issue "blind." Other than some very loose basics, I’m almost wholly unfamiliar with The Demon and Etrigan outside of an episode or two of Justice League Unlimited, his appearance in 1999’s Judgement Day, possibly Final Night, and a few issues of Demon Knights (being The New 52, though, could be vastly different!). Ditto with Klarion. I didn’t even know who the kid was til the name was put out there, and then I only know whatever I read (and have presently forgotten) from the Grant Morrison mini whenever that 7 Soldiers stuff was out. I vaguely knew of Etrigan being a "rhyming" demon and definitely appreciated some of the rhymes in the issue (outside of the story itself, a writer being able to make mostly-sensible rhymes work is fairly impressive to me for whatever reason).

I’m not all that clear on the actual relationship between Jason Blood and Etrigan outside of there being at least a bit of an adversarial thing. Is Etrigan related to Merlin? Or is that someone else? There’s not much "background" here as far as Blood and the Demon. Despite that, this was a fairly self-contained issue…which gives it more credit with me for being a $3 issue–a 20% increase on the prior chapters of Eclipso: The Darkness Within being $2.50. This is also the first non-squarebound issue of the event. This is one I’m highly confident I did NOT ever read before, though it was an interesting enough read as a first-time thing in 2022. Even though I didn’t know the characters, I feel like I got to know or recognize the "essential" bits.

Visually, this had a certain "darker" style to it that put me in mind of early issues of Batman: Shadow of the Bat (though PART of that may be Alan Grant’s name with this issue). Something to the visuals also put me in mind of older Hellblazer issues and perhaps Vertigo stuff as well.

Readers are directed to this issue from Justice League America Annual #6…but other than that, there’s really nothing here that seems to truly tie in to the event. Having read previous chapters, I have a bit more context for Eclipso…but I don’t think it’s really needed in reading this…we get filled in contextually with what we "need" to know. If there was no "meta" context of having read prior chapters, this would seem a standalone story to me, and not a bad one at that. There’s also no direction to the "next" chapter of Eclipso: The Darkness Within…and with Eclipso seemingly "defeated" for the purposes of this issue–"driven off," at least–we get a conclusion of sorts that doesn’t push us into another chapter.

As I do not recall reading any other issues of the title from the ’90s–except perhaps the Bloodlines Annual–this was a decent introduction of it to me; the extra length to the issue giving more room for things to play out beyond what "just" a normal single issue would have. It doesn’t obligate me to check recent issues, nor to dive into subsequent issues. Even within the event itself, this seems more like a one-shot/special that happens to feature the characters. As "a" #1, this is additionally worthwhile if fished out of a cheapo-bin. #1, extra-sized, dark, contained…and yet ties into the overall event by virtue of referencing a black diamond and having Eclipso.

demon_annual_001_blogtrailer

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Brightest Day #0 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Magog #1 [Review]

Lethal Force

Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Hi-Fi Designs
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Assoc. Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Glenn Fabry (variant by Porter & Dell)
Publisher: DC Comics

I was rather surprised at this issue. I almost passed on it, figuring the character to not be something I’m interested in following long-term. But I gave it a shot, and I’m pretty much glad I did.

We open on a scene that provides us with some exposition–who Magog is, his recent past and what he’s about. We also see him into action with a couple pages that were seen originally in the “preview” in the back of a bunch of DC’s books a few weeks back, showing the more military/black ops side of Magog as the soldier. What he finds there leads him back to his current home and to confrontation with the JSA. After an exchange with Alan Scott, and an introduction to supporting cast members, we see Magog back into action. He’s currently the agent of the JSA who can or WILL get his hands dirty in ways the others can’t or won’t. Magog is not a super-hero; he’s a metahuman in a world of super-heroes, but he’s a soldier. (It would be interesting to see Magog interact with The Shield, come to think of it!).

Storywise, this issue is largely setup and contextualization. It does a good job of that–bringing one up to speed on the basics of the character, putting into place a supporting cast and status quo.

The art is high quality…I really like the visual style we’re presented with here. It’s not totally some grim ‘n gritty visual, but it’s not bright, hopeful and flashy, either. It feels very down-to-earth, and appropriate for the title character.

While this Magog is not the exact same character introduced in Kingdom Come nearly a decade-and-a-half ago, the similarities are there in tone as well as name and costume. One could envision this character developing into that one, but the differences are what add a layer of interest. Differences…or simply more information and insight into the individual…giving him depth rather than being a plot-point in someone else’s story.

Giffen seems to have a good handle on this character, and though I’m not entirely ready to “commit” to this series, I’m sufficiently hooked for at least another issue to see if the magic holds beyond this premiere issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Blackest Night: Batman #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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