Jack Kirby's The Demon
By: J.R. McNamara on February 20, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Credits
Writer: Jack Kirby
Art: Mike Royer, Jack Kirby
Publisher: DC Comics
Pages: 384
Not necessarily everyone knows who Jack 'The King' Kirby is, but I am sure that almost everyone in the western world is familiar with his work. For Marvel comics, Kirby was one of the creative minds who came up with some of their most important characters: The X-Men, Captain America, The Hulk… actually you could spend pages listing the characters he created! Before he concentrated mainly on superhero titles for Marvel, Kirby was well known for pretty much every genre of comics, including romance, war, and for what I think he excelled in most, monster comics. Kirby's monsters had a disturbing blockiness to them, probably due to his artistic style, and even though almost every monster had the almost same objective (the subjugation of the human race) his ability to make them all so different made this something he outclassed all others at. In actual fact, both the Hulk and the Thing from the Fantastic Four evolved from these monster comics.

In the early seventies, Kirby became frustrated with Marvel comics and shifted his efforts to DC comics, the producers of such titles as Bat-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman et cetera, to create a new line of heroes for the DC universe. These comics, which are known as the Fourth World titles, included Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, The Forever People, The New Gods and Mister Miracle, and he created a textured world that was so much more than had been seen previously in comics, but DC wanted more.

First they wanted a Planet of the Apes type comic, and so Kirby created for them the amazing Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth. This title became so popular they wanted more, and seeing as how monster and mystery comics were having a resurrection in popularity, they asked him to create one.

The result is what I think is his most amazing work: The Demon.

The Demon starts with the legend of Merlin (yes, that Merlin) and the last days of Camelot. Merlin's enemy Morgaine Le Fay was desperate for Merlin's book of spells, known as the Eternity Book, which would give her everlasting life and youth, so she gathered hordes to attack Camelot, laying waste to life and property in an effort to procure it. Merlin, with his unfathomable power, called forth a demon known as Etrigan to devastate her army…and devastate he did. Her armies were halted, but the castle of Camelot was still destroyed, and so Merlin sent Etrigan forth to become a man, and lie in wait lest Morgaine return to threaten mankind. Merlin then disappeared into the waste of Camelot, and Etrigan was transformed into a man, a man who could live for centuries, with a demon bubbling close to the surface.

Time flashes forwards to now (well, the early seventies) and the man has become demonologist Jason Blood, with no knowledge of what is inside him, but is certainly attracted to the dark arts. While researching some of the artifacts his 'family' has collected over the years (actually, him in many guises over the centuries), Blood meets a sorcerer known as Warly, who is actually an agent of Morgaine Le Fay, and whose appearance causes the demon to rise once again from Blood's body to defend Merlin's secrets.

The Demon actually only went for 16 issues, but has been resurrected several times since his first appearance, most recently in John Byrne's Blood of the Demon series, and in my mind is Kirby's greatest creation. In the course of the 16 issues, he takes on a myriad of enemies, including a pre-pubescent Witch Boy known as Klarion, a werewolf type creature known as 'The Howler', a witch named 'Ugly Meg' and several others, including both a Frankenstein's monster wannabe and a Phantom of the Opera styled character. Yes, Kirby was obviously influenced by the horror classic for this title.

DC Comics have presented The Demon with a great amount of respect in this hard-covered, bookshelf format collection. All the covers are reproduced within the pages, and also some of Kirby's original, un-inked and un-colored artwork is included as well. This presentation has a beautiful dust cover, and a great forward by one of Kirby's assistants, Mark Evanier, who has written for TV, both live action and cartoons, and has had several of his own comics, including the brilliant Groo the Wanderer with Sergio Aragones. If I had to give this hardcover any criticism, it would be that the pages are traditional comic book pages, and feel a little flimsy… especially if you are a huge fan like I am and expect to return to it many times.

Forget Watchmen! Forget The Dark Knight Returns! Forget The Killing Joke! Jack Kirby's The Demon is the greatest comic ever… and anyone that thinks otherwise, quite simply, is wrong. If you are a comic collector and you don't own this, your comic collection is sorely lacking. If you are a horror buff and are looking for a good horror comic to get you into comics, this is the comic you are looking for. Bravo to DC for giving The King's work the respect it deserves.
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