Last issue, the Demon Knights first encountered a monstrous beast that seemed to be animals boiled down to their purest essence and exaggerated, for instance deer appeared as flashes of light while wolves were massive killing machines. As if these beasts weren’t enough, there was the issue of Zombie King Arthur to deal with.
In this issue, the Knights themselves are mutated into their base forms. Al-Jabr becomes a giant head, all thought. Most of the Knights are actually delighted by these transformations; Horsewoman becomes a centaur and Etrigan a giant, seething with powerful magic. Exoristos, however turns into a grotesque creature that can’t even move. Madame Xanadu, mysteriously does not change. Their metamorphoses come in handy when more beasts attack them. Etrigan destroys them with minimal effort. Still normal, Xanadu is the only one thinking rationally.
King Arthur shows them a spring of magical water which Xanadu realizes can change them back, but the others don’t want to use it, so Arthur douses them all, himself included, which returns him to normal as well. He explains that the water is rare and must be used sparingly. Most of the Knights realize they are better off in their normal forms… most of them.
Etrigan attacks Arthur, while most of the others kneel before the returned King. Xanadu reveals that she is Arthur’s sister and that she is from the Fey, fairy people, whom Sir Ystin calls “untrustworthy.” Arthur says he went to Avalon after his death, but as per the prophecy, returned to England in its time of need. He discovered centuries had passed and that a new dark tower was errected in the place of his former castle. This new tower emits green magic energy which is the cause for all the mutations in the area. They must get past the tower in order to take Merlin to Avalon. The heroes storm the castle but of course find it guarded. But even if they make it past the magical sentry, greater evils lie inside.
This is a fun book with a lot of great characterization. It’s the definition of a rag-tag band of travelers, many of whom dislike one another, but are forced to work together for the greater good. If not handled properly, the characters resentment can transfer to the reader, like “If they hate each other so much, why are they together?” But that isn’t the case here.
The art is very nice, split seamlessly between Diogenes Neves and Robson Rocha. Seriously, I can’t tell who drew what, unlike certain other books. It isn’t my favorite artwork ever, but that’s just a stylistic thing. It still works and serves the story just fine.
This issue was more serious than the last, but it was still fun. It’s one of those books I like even though I know it’s far from historically accurate. I’m fairly certain “hey” wasn’t part of the English language at that point. But I can forgive because it entertained me.
DEMON KNIGHTS #11
Writer – Paul Cornell
Pencillers – Diogenes Neves and Robson Rocha
Cover – Philip Tan with Jeremy Cox