In the 1970’s Jack Kirby’s relationship with Marvel and Stan Lee soured to the point that he left them for greener pastures with DC. This lasted about four years before he went back to Marvel, but it yielded creations such as Omac, Kamandi and, of course, the fourth World series…the New Gods, Forever People and Mister Miracle.
Along with the Fourth World, one of Kirby’s other creations that has managed to keep an ongoing presence in the DC Universe is the Demon.
Centuries back, the wizard Merlin cast a spell calling up the son (and Merlin’s half brother) of the demon Belial, Etrigan. Upon finding he could not attain the answers he desired, he bound Etrigan to a Knight in King Arthur’s court. Jason Blood was made immortal, but as a living prison for Etrigan, he was a bit of an unhappy guy.
As characters go, this was one Jack Created due to pressure from DC for a horror character…and he was not thrilled when sales of the first issue were successful enough that DC cancelled his Fourth World books before he could bring them to a close he envisioned. The first series lasted sixteen issues. Then it was about fifteen years before a new four issue mini-series and the character started to pop up randomly in anthology titles and other characters books. He also got his own series that lasted sixty issues. He got a bit of new prominence under the New 52, as part of a magic themed medieval team called the Demon Knights.
Now, post Rebirth we have the six issue mini-series Demon Hell is Earth. Jason Blood is fighting with Etrigan who wants to be let out. When the two are drawn to death valley, they witness a supernatural nuclear bomb go off. This is part of a plan by Etrigan’s father Belial to overtake reality.
The blast leaves Blood and Etrigan changed. Etrigan is now out in the world…and Jason Blood finds himself an intangible ghost. This forces him to be creative in how he tries to keep the Demon in check. They are joined by Merlin and Madam Xanadu to try and stop Belial’s plan.
Much of the six issues are dedicated to the travel towards the rift, the entrance of hell.
As comics go for lesser known characters with a long history, the series does not rely heavily on continuity. Sure, it references events from the past, but writer Andrew Constant works in enough information so that as a reader you do not feel like you had to read everything that came before. You get the information you need to understand the characters.
His biggest change is to Etrigan’s rhyming speech pattern. Etrigan has long spoken in riddles and rhyme, but the series reveals that is something of a choice for him. In fact, the series suggests he is a bit like an internet troll, enjoying to use his rhymes to irritate those around him.
I really like the art by Bradley Walker and Andrew Hennessy. Blood has a slick finely tailored look, while Etrigan has a brutish and muscled appearance. Etrigan and his demon relatives have a genuine influence of the Kirby designs, but still have their own style.
I found I really enjoyed the series. I never found myself uninterested or confused, considering my limited exposure to the Demon. Hell is Earth is a well told tale bound to terrific artwork.
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