Etrigan and the Immortal Witch
I REALLY want to like these Demon Knights covers more than I do. Don't get me wrong, there have been some GREAT covers for this series. This one is no exception, but my heart just isn't in the praise because it's got Etrigan AGAIN. It's getting ridiculous, I know he's the most well known of the bunch, but he's not the 'headliner' like Frankenstein. Pushing him over the others only makes sense from a P.R. perspective, which rarely meshes with a 'good storytelling' perspective. Thankfully this philosophy only extends to the covers, but it ends up creating conflicting feelings in me. I'm complaining about Etrigan being on the covers so much when it doesn't make sense, but then this issue is one of the very few where it actually MAKES SENSE to have Etrigan. My instinct is still to complain because of how prevalent it is to have him on covers where it doesn't make sense. And it IS a nice cover... Sigh.
For the second time, Demon Knights shows you the right time to use multiple artists. Bernard Chang draws the bulk of this issue, which is Madame Xanadu's recounting of how she became the paramour of both Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon. Chang's style actually blends more with Diogenes Neves' than Mike Choi's does, but in both cases it makes sense. I'm not saying Choi's didn't work well, but it was intentionally less similar due to the content it chronicled. The parallel of that goes for Chang. The overall tone is very similar, but there's a simpler approach to some of the details, ideal for a flashback.
Some of the tale fleshes out some details on the series' opening scene; which was a little bothersome to me, if only because I didn't have my copy of the first issue on hand. Nothing too bad though, it wasn't confusing, I just wish I'd had it to see what more is revealed.
Basically, this issue is 'filler.' I say it in quotations because its also fleshing out of backstory. The tone is one of filler simply because everyone else is asking Madame Xanadu how and why she's two timing Jason and Etrigan, to pass the time on the road to Alba Sarum. Filler has becoms something of a dirty word these days, but I'm trying to show that it doesn't have to be one. Geoff Johns isn't really helping, what with the sixth issues of Green Lantern and Aquaman.
Plus, this has been one of those nagging questions people have been asking, constantly teased before us. Who is the one Madame Xanadu REALLY loves. She's dating Etrigan and Jason Blood, both aware that she's intimate with the other and both convinced that she's only pretending to love the other to make sure one doesn't separate them. A chunk of the story is spent more on the backstory of Xanadu herself, which I found quite interesting, and then we're lead into a fairly predictable outcome, though not an unsatisfying one. But then Etrigan appears in the end and throws everything back into question with a single well placed philosophical quandary.
There's one last thing that bothers me, and isn't completely surprising. The next issue is set up with the murder of Merlin. Now I know this series is building some major historical ties with Stormwatch, but at this point I LOVE the series the way it is, contained in its own little time period, untouched by wild modern elements. I think its too soon to start introducing elements such as what appears to be a Daemonite.
In Conclusion: 5/5
Once again, Demon Knights shows you the RIGHT way to use multiple artists. We get a nice character spotlight issue that could've been unnecessary, considering Etrigan's the most well known of the main characters, but ends up being just as interesting and compelling as Shining Knight's character issue. Cornell also shows us that he knows the best mysteries are left uncertain as long as possible. He gives us the answer, then instantly makes us question it again. Its odd that my favorite Demon Knights issues seem to be the more 'filler' style ones, but they're just really good. So is the whole series, but still.