Its hard to be a history nut these days
My hopes for Demon Knight's success are rewarded with a spectacular first issue, that introduces its players in a quick and efficient fashion, and gives most of them enough of a personality that it definitely makes me interested in seeing more of what this team (though they're not a team yet) has to offer.
I must say looking at this book and the cast of characters, I cannot help but be reminded a little of Secret Six. The extreme violence (including our villain's introductory scene that is just WRONG), the solid art, and the fact that none of our protagonists seem particularly heroic here, all kind of bring back fond memories. Especially since Etrigan featured in the second-to-last story arc of Secret Six. And speaking of Etrigan, I kind of like his redesign, as it makes sense for the time period, but it is disappointing that he no longer speaks in rhymes, as that is one of the most distinct traits of the character. That said, his obnoxious sarcasm towards Merlin near the beginning of this issue was pretty funny. Merlin himself comes across as more morally ambiguous then we are used to, since he basically curses an innocent man to be forever bonded to a demon.
As for the rest of the cast, as I said, none of them come across as really heroic individuals, although I suppose the female Shining Knight doesn't come across as particularly callous either. Unlike the others, which include Xanadu, the most portly and Volstagg-like Vandal Savage I have ever seen (I don't seem to remember him ever looking like that) and another bloodthirsty, man-hating Amazon, which honestly seems like a card that DC plays a little too often. There is also a mysterious archer who we get a glimpse of.
I'm talking a lot about the characters, and that's because that's where the meat of this issue is. There is, as I said, a bit of action, and the art really is fantastic, some of the best I've seen in a comic lately, but at the end of the day, its the various characters that are hooking me here.
Really my only disappointment is how heavily magical the villains are. Seriously, these guys have an army of dinosaurs at their beck and call to reinforce their barbarians. I love dinosaurs, but at the same time, I was kind of hoping for a medieval story/universe that was a bit more in tune with what it was actually like back then, as in, little to no magic and more emphasis on historical accuracy/realism. But maybe that was hoping for a little too much. Regardless, Demon Knights has proven itself as being one of the better DCnU titles. DiDio and company claim that their goal is a more modern, relevant, and diverse DCU. And except for the "modern" part, I would say that's exactly what we get here.