This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on August 15, 2016.
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Niko Walter
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Demonic is the newest comic from Skybound dealing with possession and fear of the unseen (hot on the footsteps of Demonic co-creator Robert Kirkman’s series Outcast). It follows Detective Scott Fischer, who makes Faustian bargain following a chance encounter with dark forces. Everything in Fischer’s life is threatened and he is compelled to consider doing awful things to protect those he loves.
Artist Niko Walter sets the tone of this story with panels that seem shallow, but rarely fall flat. There is a purposeful lack of density to the world of Demonic that creates a noir sensibility. When supernatural elements are not present, characters drift through a dirty city and standard lives. Colorist Dan Brown enhances this aesthetic with plenty of earthen colors. Not only do the abundance of tans and browns create a mundane atmosphere to much of Demonic #1, but they really make scenes of violence pop. Fire and blood burn with life on these pages.
The moments of horror are the key recommendation for this debut. There are two key sequences of violence and neither are disappointing. Walter utilizes tiny panels to highlight terrifying details and the black-drenched pages show just enough for readers to imagine even worse happenings. Whatever the driving force behind these terrible instances of violence happens to be, the scenes do not require any explanation to be effective. Pain is pain, and these pages evoke it.
Effective art helps Demonic #1 considerably as the characters inspire little love or concern. Fischer is a stock model who can be easily swapped with the protagonist of dozens of similar stories. He is a police officer with a dark past and flawed moral compass who makes poor choices seeking to protect those he loves. There’s not a spark to be found within his soul in this issue.
The treatment of the women who surround him is worse. While Fischer is cliche, he still benefits from being the story’s protagonist. All of the women in his life are one-dimensional: the partner he cheated with, the wife who snipes at him, the innocent daughter. In Demonic #1 every woman is little more than a prop in Fischer’s story. Even the demonic antagonist fulfills the classic role of temptress pulled directly from the madonna-whore dichotomy; she is even sure to consistently lean forward and expose plenty of cleavage.
The general lack of characterization found in Demonic #1 may partially be due to the heavy plot lifting required of the first issue. There is a radical change to Fischer’s status quo in the first issue. Rather than leave it as a cliffhanger, writer Christopher Sebela paces the story like a bat out of hell. He makes it clear both who Fischer was and what he must become. There are ample mysteries created for future exploration, but they are not integral to the series’ premise. The dark deals, character relationships, and poor choices necessary to know where Demonic will go next are all laid out in this one issue.
Demonic #1 is a mixed effort, but not an inherently flawed one. While the first issue may leave a great deal lacking in regards to its characters, these types may be subverted in issues to come. In the meanwhile, Demonic stakes its claim on bloody, body horror. Blending the mundane with a keen sense of the monstrous, it promises scares aplenty whether or not readers are concerned with who is being hurt and who is doing the hurting.