The Demon: Hell is Earth #1 // Review
The Demon: Hell is Earth is a six issue mini series that introduces a post-Rebirth Etrigan and Jason Blood to the DC Universe. Etrigan has been a mainstay of the magical side of DC comics for many years, always straddling the line between good and evil. Writer Andrew Constant is helming his first title for DC with this mini series, while penciler Brad Walker, inker Andrew Hennessy and colorist Chris Sotomayor have all done extensive work with Marvel and DC in their respective pasts. Etrigan has been a staple for many years and it will interesting to see how this series works into the history of the character and how it will affect the relationship of Jason Blood and the demon Etrigan that is bonded to him in the future.
Writing for Etrigan has to be an absolute blast, because the author gets to write for two characters with incredibly different personalities. Jason and Etrigan have been bonded since the Dark Ages and have been through so much together. Etrigan is originally a demon of Hell, and thus has evil instincts that would go unchecked if not for Jason Blood. These two characters balance each other out. They both despise each other, yet know that the other is necessary. One of Etrigan’s signature traits is his speech, as his dialogue is filled with dark and twisted rhymes. Unfortunately in this first issue, writer Andrew Constant misses the mark on one of the character’s most beloved attributes. For most of the issue, Etrigan doesn’t speak in rhyme, and when he finally does, it seems to lack the poetic charm that past writers have been able to give the character. This may come off as nitpicky, however even the characters of the DC Universe know the tales of the rhyming demon. It really sets the character apart from any other, so seeing Etrigan not speaking in rhyme is jolt for readers familiar with him. While the lack of rhyming may be a missed mark, a shining light can be found in the power struggle happening between Jason Blood and the rhyming demon of hell.
Constant forwards the relationship between Blood and Etrigan, with Jason seeing visions of Etrigan in the mirror and trying to drink them away while Etrigan mocks him for it. Constant does a good job of establishing this tense relationship early on, and continues it throughout the book. To further complicate the relationship, longtime member of the magical community Madame Xanadu, who has a history with Jason, is trying to track him down, as she too has been affected by the same nightmarish visions.
Drawing an Etrigan book must be equally exciting, as there is no shortage of action throughout the issue. Brad Walker’s pencil work showcases the destructive nature of Etrigan in the panels featuring Etrigan unleashing his fury, with huge explosions, debris flying everywhere and vicious hellfire infernos. Walker also presents a very disheveled and distraught Jason Blood, who has exiled himself in Death Valley to help avoid a deadly vision from coming to fruition.
Inker Andrew Hennessy helps to tie all of Brad Walker’s artwork together with thick billowing clouds of smoke, a mouth of razor sharp demon teeth and a troubled Jason Blood with deep lines in his face and a scraggly five o’clock shadow. Hennessy’s inkwork really add another dimension to the eternal struggle that Jason Blood faces being bonded to the demon Etrigan.
This is a fairly dark comic as far as colors go; however, that doesn’t stop colorist Chris Sotomayor from unleashing chaos on the pages, from blazing orange and yellows coming from Etrigan’s hellfire to deep pockets of black for eye sockets that are filled with a ghoulish crimson-red eye. These colors will dominate most of this book, yet seem to go hand-in-hand with this character.
Series writer Andrew Constant’s first outing with this character didn’t seem to have the same impact that past writers have delivered. Readers have come to expect a tongue twisting treat when picking up an Etrigan book, this first issue was lacking unfortunately. Constant did help to flesh out Blood and Etrigan’s relationship more and with the rest of the creative team having so much experience and delivering excellent work, hopefully it can help elevate the character to rhyming glory once again.