Saturday, May 25, 2013

Demon Knights #20 - A Review

It was perhaps inevitable that Demon Knights should come to focus upon Sir Ystin's quest for The Holy Grail.  I had just hoped it would be further down the line and that the series would continue to focus more upon the DC Universe in specific rather than retreading such a well-worn storyline.  Even having the clue for to the Grail's location be hidden in the library of the Amazons (who are portrayed as the crazed, man-hating ice-queens of Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman) proves an insufficient twist to make this tired storyline seem new. 

As ever, the unique cast of characters created by Paul Cornell are the book's greatest strength but Robert Venditti lacks the confidence to go over-the-top as Cornell did.  His Vandal Savage seems much more the calculating conqueror we're used to in the modern DCU rather than the crazed cousin of Conan The Barbarian we saw under Cornell's pen.  Once depicted taking bites out of dragons roasted alive by fireballs, Vandal's savagery is limited toward flirting with the Amazons and requesting a copy of the Kama Sutra from their librarian.  The humor of much of the other characters is similarly muted.  Indeed, there is much that may be said to be muted under Venditti's pen.

The same complaint could be made of the series' new art team.  Chad Hardin is a competent enough penciler, whose designs for the characters are distinct, but he's no Bernard Chang.  Hardin's figures seem far too stiff and posed.  There is little life to any of his fight scenes.  Of more concern is inker Wayne Facher, whose work is uneven throughout.  Many figures have a thick outline around them yet they receive almost no definition to their interiors.  One wonders if Facher just did enough work to make sure the characters were distinctive from the background and then called it a day.

Demon Knights #20 is a good point for new readers to jump on to this series but I hesitate to recommended it.  The book isn't bad but it's nowhere near as good as it once was and I'm not sure I can justify continuing to buy a half-assed version of what was one of my top five favorite books.  I'll give it some time to change my mind but this book is officially on notice.   

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