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52 Catch Up: Demon Knights

Demon Knights with Review52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC’s New 52 and seeing how they’re faring now that they’re underway, why they’re worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.




Camelot is a magical place, constantly being destroyed and rebuilt over centuries. An attempt to destroy the city of Alba Sarum and its claim to be the next Camelot brings together seven unlikely and cursed warriors who would see Camelot rebuilt.









Previously on Demon Knights: Covering Issues #1-#10

The Demonic Seven (spread throughout all issues)

There are seven main characters in Demon Knights.  Jason Blood was a servant of Merlin’s who was bonded with the rhyming demon Etrigan, making him immortal and allowing him to summon the demon at will, but doing so has Jason take Etrigan’s place in hell for the time the demon walks the Earth.  Madame Xanadu is a powerful sorceress having once been an apprentice of Merlin’s who came in contact with Avalon and gained immortality from it.  Xanadu has a relationship with both Jason and Etrigan, convincing each of them that she spends time with the other one as a ruse and as the excuse to be with her “one true love.”  Sir Ystin, the Shining Knight, drank from the Holy Grail when he was only a squire centuries ago and was later tasked by Merlin to retrieve it.  Al Jabr is an engineer without parallel with knowledge of science and technology far beyond his years.  Exoristos is an exiled Amazon warrior trying to make up for her crimes.  Vandal Savage is a powerful immortal known for giving into his baser passions.  The Horsewoman is unable to walk but is able to commune with horses, allowing her to ride them and even summon them to her aid.

The Assault on Little Spring (#1-#7)

A group of unlikely heroes gather in a small town’s tavern just as the town comes under fire from the Questing Queen, who seeks to destroy the nearby City of Alba Sarum, which claims to be the new Camelot, on her quest to find the Holy Grail.  Her dragons invade the town but Savage, Etrigan, Sir Ystin, Exoristos, and Al Jabr hold them off while Xanadu pours her life force into a shield to keep out attackers but is drastically weakened by the spell.  A resident of Little Spring known as the Horsewoman comes to the others with news.  She attempted to get word to Alba Sarum of the invading force but was cut off by mechanical dragons.  With the time Xanadu has bought them, the party begins to prepare defenses.  Savage trains the locals in the ways of war, and Jabr begins to construct war engines.  Exoristos encourages a scout to try and get through the lines, but the Queen’s army kills her before she makes it far.  Enraged by how casually she encouraged the young woman to throw away her life, the Horsewoman shoots Exoristos with an arrow.  While Xanadu tends to Ex’s wounds, the Queen’s servant, Mordru, appears as an apparition to each of the Knights and offers them a chance to abandon the town.  He offers Exoristos a new identity and a chance to return home, Al Jabr knowledge, and the Horsewoman the ability to walk, but all refuse.  Vandal Savage, on the other hand, joins the Queen’s army with the promise of a command.

Savage takes control of the Queen’s army and begins the assault as soon as Xanadu’s shield fails.  Exoristos rushes in to make up for her failure with the scout but is overrun until Etrigan saves her with some encouragement by Xanadu.  Xanadu considers sacrificing an innocent to regain her abilities but instead has Jason, who is in hell in Etrigan’s place, retrieve the tears of an innocent man in hell, and then switch places with Etrigan.  The tears give Xanadu back her powers, and she is able to hold back Mordru’s spells.  Meanwhile, the Horsewoman makes another break for Al Sarum, this time using dozens of summoned horses as a shield.  Many die, including her own mount, Breaker, but she manages to reach the city and summon reinforcements.  Savage has a different set of plans and switches sides to his own by having his men attack the Queen’s supplies.  When her archers kill all but Savage, he switches sides again to rejoin the Knights and hold back the tide.  Finally, the cavalry arrives and the Queen is forced to retreat, badly beaten.

Alba Sarum (#8-ongoing)

Following the battle, the Knights travel to Alba Sarum, destined to be the next Camelot.  They meet the princesses and are invited inside and treated as honored guests.  The princesses explain that a tragedy has recently hit the city.  The visiting wizard Merlin was murdered.  Xanadu and Etrigan know that when Merlin dies his soul is sent back to Avalon.  The Knights are then tasked with retrieving his soul using Xanadu’s inside knowledge of Avalon and its workings.  The Knights leave by sea and Etrigan returns to hell where he goes before Lucifier and offers him the chance to reap the soul in Avalon.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Knights’ ship is attacked by a band of pirates mounted on the back of a sea serpent.  Xanadu distracts the serpent with spells while Savage comes in and knocks the serpent out with a single powerful punch.  The pirates surrender and the Knights follow them back into port.  There they learn that the village was turning to piracy, because there is something amiss with their animals.  Sea monsters started to appear all over, and the local wildlife has been turning feral and killing off the villagers.  The party soon discovers this for themselves as they ride out from the village and are assaulted by a gigantic wolf.  Sir Ystin launches himself from his steed, lands on the wolf’s back, and impales it.  After dying, the wolf shrinks back to regular size.  As the group approaches what had once been Jason and Xanadu’s Camelot, they encounter a decrepit skeleton, none other than the King Arthur of their era, who starts to meld with Jason/Etrigan, becoming a single creature.

High Points

Cast: The cast of Demon Knights is awesome.  All seven of the warriors stand out with their particular curses and personalities.  Our immortal characters, Etrigan, Xanadu, Vandal Savage, and Sir Ystin, all have a rich history woven into the DC universe and getting to see them in their “prime” has been a unique focus of this series.  Xanadu’s dangerous and twisted love triangle between Jason and Etrigan is a joy to watch unfold.  Vandal Savage is hilarious as he tries to do what benefits him the most at the time, whether that’s to test out the taste of dragon or switch sides in a fight, twice!  Though often underestimated due to his size and gender identity, Sir Ystin is the classic warrior, both honorable and prideful.  His attitude plays off of the more chaotic members of the group nicely.  Exoristos has been a great character, as well; she’s a lot more than a precursor to Wonder Woman with her boastfulness and desire for redemption.  The character I’ve been least impressed with so far, mainly because he’s been in the background more than the others, is Al Jabr, and even he gets his fair share of one liners and moments to shine.

D&D Comic, Only Not: While, in my opinion, John Rogers’ Dungeons & Dragons comic blows Demon Knights out of the water, Demon Knights is the closest DC will ever get to a D&D comic.  Even the art has a similar feel!  We have a group of adventuring heroes who battle evil, fight each other a lot, and are sent on fantastic quests.  If you’re a fan at all of this genre, then you need to read this comic.

Camelot Redo: While I now know this is an old concept for DC, I really like the idea of there being numerous Camelots throughout history, but the city keeps being destroyed and rebuilt.  It makes a lot of sense with regards to all the Arthurian legends floating around out there and allows all of our heroes a tie to Camelot only not the same Camelot.

Surprisingly LGBT: Princess Alba and Princess Sarum are a lesbian couple who jointly rule the city named after them. This is not considered strange or odd, just the way it is, and Alba and Sarum are destined to marry once their city becomes the new Camelot.  If Alba Sarum’s ruler had just been female, I would have been pleasantly surprised, but to have a lesbian couple as the rulers of the city completely caught me off guard and is something I’ve never seen before.  Then, there is Sir Ystin.  Fans of the comic may be wondering why I keep referring to Sir Ystin with male pronouns.  I do so because, in this adaption, Sir Ystin is transgender.  There is evidence of many strong female characters who kick a– in Demon Knights and are accepted for it, yet Ystin continues to insist on being Sir and using male pronouns, because that’s how he identifies.  Very nicely done, Demon Knights, now please get the others to stop f—ing up his pronouns as a cheap, unfunny joke.

Low Points

The Age-Old Team Comic Problem: A common issue in a title with this many characters; there are too many to follow along with everyone.  Demon Knights does a decent job of keeping up with each of the characters as far as such titles go, but the number of characters still slows down the story and makes it a bit convoluted when everyone’s in the same scene.  I’m hoping that there will be more scenes that focus on one character, as was done with Sir Ystin back in Issue #4.

Dragons Suck: The line at the end of Issue #1 is amazing, but dragons have been overused by this point and have been severely underpowered.  Actually, that applies to most of the big monsters the Knights have faced.  Wallbreaker, taken down in one hit.  Dragon army, taken down in less than an issue. Pirates riding a sea serpent, awesome, but still taken down by a single punch.  I’d like to see some genuine threats going forward, but once you’ve made dragons pushovers, what manner of creature is going to provide a challenge?

Looking Ahead

Xanadu’s Love: Madame Xanadu is playing somebody.  Whether Jason, Etrigan, or both, we have yet to see, but every time she is forced to explain her story, there are several different versions.  This twisted love triangle can only end in a terrible way, and I am going to enjoy watching the train wreck when it comes.

New Camelot: There are forces trying to restore Camelot and those trying to keep it from ever returning.  Retrieving Merlin’s soul will undoubtedly be only the first step in transforming Alba Sarum into the new Camelot, but even after the city has earned that new name, what comes next?  Will the Demon Knights become the new Knights of the Round Table?  In a city ruled by two women, who will be the “Arthur” of this generation?

Traitors: Vandal Savage has already betrayed the group once, and now every indication is that Etrigan will do the same.  The Knights strain against each other a lot, though some members seem to get along well with others, Al Jabr, Ex, and Ystin being one such group.  Part of me would like to see the Knights become a more cohesive force. But, with their group including Vandal Savage and Etrigan, I doubt it’ll happen, and even then, part of me has a lot of fun watching them screw each other over.





Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream


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