Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Demon #22

TITLE: The Demon #22


COVER DATE: April 1992


24 pages


I missed out on the debut and original run of The Demon, as it was just a little bit before my time. I only have a handful of the later issues, and most of those are from Garth Ennis and John McCrea's run. So when this issue popped up on the Randomizer, I had completely forgotten that it existed. That's no slight against Matt Wagner, it's just that I was such a huge Ennis fan during the 90's that I figured that him writing was the only reason I would've picked up an issue of The Demon.

Was I ever wrong. There's a handful of creators who were putting out exceptional work, month in and month out during the 90's, and one of those was Matt Wagner. It shouldn't come as a big surprise that it ended up in my collection, but I'm kicking myself that I let it sit unread for close to twenty years.

We already got a sneak peek of what we're in for yesterday, so let's just get to it and read this thing already.

Witch War
  • Written and Drawn by Matt Wagner
  • Colored by Bernie Mireault
  • Lettered by Todd Klein
  • Edited by Dan Raspler
  • Demon created by Jack Kirby
I've never been too good with the rhyming sound
But since that's the Demon's bit,
We'll toss the old iambic pentameter around
And see if we can get something to fit.

Yeah, don't worry...this whole review is not going to be in rhyme. I may be crazy enough to randomly read my comic book collection and blog about it one issue at a time, but I'm nowhere near foolish enough to do even one post in rhyme.

We are introduced to Sybil Haden at the outset of the story, as she begins the chain of events that would make her a full-fledged witch in the service of Lilith. All it took to start things off was for her to murder an older witch, so she could take advantage of the opening in the coven. Before long, she is marked by the devil and acquires a familiar in the form of a rooster.

All is well and good, until another upstart decides to take her place. She strikes out at Sybil, and her rooster takes the brunt of the assault and is left disemboweled.

Using all of the witchcraft at her disposal, she summons a council with Asmodeus, First Son of Lilith, and Archduke of Hell. She will have her revenge, but Asmodeus just laughs and sends her back to the mortal plane with nothing but the name of a lesser demon who just might be able to assist her. That demon, of course, is Etrigan.

Sybil sets out again to seek otherworldly help in her quest for revenge, this time setting a mystical snare for Etrigan, so that once he's bound he'll be forced to help her. Etrigan hears her summons and soon finds himself trapped within a mystical circle. As you can well imagine, Etrigan is none too pleased to find himself bound to help this young witch.

Sybil's binding spell was too good, however, and the Demon soon finds himself doing her bidding. It turns out that Annie Mojo, the witch who killed her familiar, did so to make of it a homunculus. Sybil will have her familiar back, so off the Demon goes to retrieve the homunculus. Nearing Annie's hovel, Etrigan gets a chance to let out his frustration about the current turn of events on Annie's zombie hordes that guard her front gate.

Once inside the witch's domicile, her traps and snare's are no match for Etrigan. Soon enough, he is face to face with Annie and her pig familiar, as well as the newly constructed little chicken-man.

With a belch of hellfire to distract the witch, Etrigan makes off with not only the little chicken-man, but also the swine familiar of Annie! Arriving back at Sybil's place, the Demon gives her her beloved little rooster-man when he gives her another surprise as well. She's none to pleased with Etrigan's extra prize, for a familiar is bound to the witch in such a fashion, that Annie Mojo can not be too far behind!

With Annie's arrival, a battle of witchcraft is soon engaged. Annie is able to use her spells to transform her familiar into a giant pig-man and sics it on Sybil. Desperate to turn the tide, Sybil undoes her binding spell on Etrigan in exchange for his help in defeating the pig-man. It's a deal, and the battle is on once again.

It's only when the last of Sybil's binding knots are undone, does Etrigan release his hellfire breath to burn the pig-man alive. Devastated, Annie Mojo is soon brought down by Sybil's witchcraft, and the battle is done.

All's well that ends well, eh?

Not so fast, as the Demon has one more score to settle with Sybil. He lets her know how unkindly he takes to being bound in service, and unfortunately it's her homunculus that bears the brunt of his dissatisfaction.

With that bit of business taken care of, Etrigan wishes her well and thanks her for a marvelous night on the town.


I think we may have a new contender for favorite single issue here at the Random Longbox, and it's rediscovering little gems like this that make doing this blog a heckuva lot of fun.

Matt Wagner takes an anti-morality play and puts the Demon smack dab in the middle of things. The fact that the Demon is a captive player in this drama puts an interesting little twist into the story. He's allowed to be as arrogant, brutal, and pompous as he wants to be and we're still allowed to root for him. The witches are the real villains of this story, and they're their own worst enemies. The Demon is little more than a force of nature doing what he's been bred to do.

The artwork by Matt Wagner is just about perfect. The comic has a certain tongue-in-cheek feel to it, and his artwork really brings out the irreverence and puts it center stage. All the while, you never get the sense that he's making fun of the genre, but he's definitely having fun with it.

So the next time you find yourself wandering down the aisles of your comic book store, stop by the "D" box and look this issue up. You'll be glad you did.

And if you don't? I think the Demon put it best when he went...

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics.

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