Why We Are Sad To See DEMON KNIGHTS Go

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Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

When news hit about DC's latest string of cancellations, many fans were disappointed -- myself included. The list comprised of many of DC's best books, most of which don't get nearly enough press considering how stellar they actually are. Among the books announced as being canceled was DEMON KNIGHTS, a series centered around a group of DC's mythical characters including Etrigan the Demon, Xanadu, Sir Ystin, Vandal Savage and many others. However, not even a great team like the one listed could keep this series alive as it was announced that the title would come to an end in August, 2013.

So why was DEMON KNIGHTS canceled? In the case of this title, it was not the constant shifts in creative vision or the change in creative teams.

At the end of the day, it all came down to the money. Sadly not even a series of fantastic stories could save this book and since DC is a business, they can really only afford to keep publishing monthly books that sell; and based on the numbers, this one did not do so well. According to figures listed on ICV2, in the month of April, DEMON KNIGHTS #19 sold 12,941 copies and came in at 155 overall. In the month prior (March) the title only sold approximately 12,975 copies. While the sales of this book were consistent (the title didn't seem to fluctuate very much in terms of number of copies sold), and although these figures don't include the number of digital sales, this was still not enough to keep it alive.

Not enough people were buying DEMON KNIGHTS, and now fans of the series (like myself) will have to suffer the consequences. So this is the part where I feel a little bit guilty and responsible for what happened here. Perhaps I did not do my job properly by talking enough about how great this book was (and still is!), or maybe the publisher could have done more to promote the book. In the end, it's a little bit late and although it is a bit sad, we can still look back on a pretty awesome series. For those of you who have missed out on the last 20 issues of DEMON KNIGHTS, here is a recap of some of the awesome things you missed.

The series was consistent

Unlike many of DC's 'New 52' titles, this one was consistent. The stories were generally pretty clear, the arcs were organized and the continuity was definitely there. Beyond that, even though the book took place outside of the DC universe (it was set in approximately 1043 A.D.) it still felt like you were reading a DC comic book. The series was launched in September, 2011 by Paul Cornell who remained the series' writer until DEMON KNIGHTS #16 when the series was taken over by writer Robert Venditti. Cornell's run was so good that many wondered whether Venditti would be able to top it -- needless to say, the series did not suffer one bit and remained interesting. The vision Cornell initially set for the series remained the same and felt consistent throughout Venditti's run, and the result was awesome.

This was one magically, stellar team

Of all the team books DC published in the last two years, this one was by far one of the more interesting. What other book could bing Vandal Savage together with the Amazons of Themyscira? I can't think of any, but this one managed to do it -- and do it with humor.

Not only were the characters some of DC's most interesting (Etrigan was at the center of nearly every story), but they came from very different parts of the DCU and were brought together in a way that made sense. These characters were connected by magic and mythology and it was generally done in stories that were interesting. The current arc, for example, brings all these characters together and sends them off on a search for the holy grail. Why would Vandal Savage want to join this team of travelers in a journey to seek and find the Holy Grail? The decision to put such a diverse cast of characters together in one place is one of the things that really excited me about this comic. The interactions between this unique group of characters is one of the qualities that had me coming back to read this series month after month, and now that it is over I will certainly find myself missing that very different and very entertaining dynamic in the monthly titles I enjoy reading.

DEMON KNIGHTS broke barriers

Generally speaking, issues like intersex characters, homosexuality, transgender or anything that might be considered "taboo" in comics are presented in very elaborate ways -- but not here. In a previous article we discussed whether or not making a certain BATGIRL character transgender was done in a genuine way, or whether it was done for shock value. DEMON KNIGHTS deals with the introduction of a transgender and/or intersex character (it is still somewhat unclear) by tip-toeing around the subject. It is an issue that underlines the entire series and isn't something that is introduced out of the blue. Neither Cornell, the series' previous writer nor Venditti define Ystin, but rather they hint at what her sex or sexuality might be. Initially a Golden Age character, Ystin was re-introduced in Grant Morrison's SEVEN SOLDIERS series as a woman who dressed as a man in order to become one of King Arthur's knights.

Cornell brought the character into the New 52 and took that idea further, never clearly defining Ystin's sex or sexuality to readers, but rather making us guess by integrating it as part of the plot. Cornell's decision to make Shining Knight's sex ambiguous to readers from the very beginning is part of what made reading this series so entertaining. And when Ystin finally did reveal information about her sex (under Cornell's pen) it was done so discretely and as part of the overall story. The way it was written made something that is an issue essentially a non-issue, and in that sense, this series broke barriers. It (possibly?) introduced the first intersex character to mainstream comics but it did so in a way that wasn't shocking and had actually been

She loves him, she loves him not, she loves him?

Amidst the adventures the team has experienced is also a very bizarre romance that has been brewing. Beneath the surface of the story is the love affair between Xanadu and Jason Blood. Or is it Xanadu and Etrigan? For those unfamiliar with the character, Jason Blood is cursed with being tied to Etrigan for all eternity, and therefore when the demon is called, Jason Blood descends into the depths of hell while Etrigan is unleashed on Earth -- but only for a short period. The thing is, it is never really clear whether Xanadu loves Etrigan or whether she loves Jason Blood, and part of that mystery is what makes this story so interesting to read. When she is with one, she always curses the other, something that keeps us wondering whether she loves either Etrigan or Jason at all.

This is by far one series I will absolutely miss seeing on my pull list each month. It is well written and features a dynamic between an eclectic group of characters that is definitely going to be hard to replace. It is a great example not only of great character interaction, but great storytelling in general. The language and dialogue have always been fantastic and the art equally so. I will miss this great group of characters and their adventures, and I only hope that DC decides to integrate them into a new series. I will say that at the very least I am glad we will get to see this series reach issue #23 and I am glad I was along for the ride. What did you think of DEMON KNIGHTS? Is it a series you enjoyed? Will you miss it? Which of DC's announced cancelations has you the most disappointed? What kind of a series do you hope replaces this and the other previously announced cancelations?

Source: graph photo via Comic Book Revolution

#1 Posted by Ghidoran (73 posts) - - Show Bio

Very sad to see this go, arguably the best team book at DC.

#2 Edited by momo111191 (248 posts) - - Show Bio

umm no just no they cant

#3 Posted by dondave (38515 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the best DC books, shouldn't have been cancelled

#4 Posted by Sakurafire (60 posts) - - Show Bio

They should have sent Batman back in time to be a member of the team. Would have sold like it was going out of style.

On the other hand, it is a fantastic title. I've been picking up the trades since it is cheaper... Unfortunately pre-ordering the trades does nothing for the actual sales of the comic... Alas, I am part of the problem.

#5 Edited by Outside_85 (9548 posts) - - Show Bio

I will miss it. And I sadly fear that whatever appears to take it's place in the eyes of DC will not be nearly as good.

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#6 Posted by SmashBrawler (5955 posts) - - Show Bio

@ghidoran said:

Very sad to see this go, arguably the best team book at DC.

Definitely the best team book from DC for me.

#7 Edited by Ministurt (80 posts) - - Show Bio

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

#8 Posted by kantrip (159 posts) - - Show Bio

This does suck. I wasn't reading it but I was planning on getting it in Trades. So here's hoping the series gets a solid ending. I'm miffed that Dial H is ending.

#9 Posted by Samuel_Simmons (171 posts) - - Show Bio

Truly saddened by this. Hope these characters who aren't already somewhere else in the NDCU, find themselves returning in one way or the other.

#10 Posted by kantrip (159 posts) - - Show Bio

Considering Xanadu is already in JLD (in the future) I would not be horribly upset if Etrigan joined their ranks. It would maybe even open up the book to explore an arc that centers around Madame Xanadu for once.

#11 Edited by Zeeguy91 (1116 posts) - - Show Bio

@babs: I definitely feel your loss with this series. It was one of the best coming out of DC and it was so refreshing, separate from some of the more formulaic superhero stuff. However, that's probably what caused its downfall. There weren't really any "big-name" characters in this title. The cast was made up of characters that are, at most, vaguely known to people who aren't familiar with the DC Universe.

People like you and I love these characters. Etrigan has always been a favorite of mine, ever since I first saw him on the Justice League cartoon and then read him in the JLA comic during Joe Kelley's run. Other people, however, fail to see the appeal of such characters and will most likely stick to what they know. DC could have probably run two ads in every comic that they published and I'm still certain that this title would not have outsold series with obviously inferior writing, but familiar characters, like Batgirl, Catwoman, and Superman.

This is why DC has five different Batman titles and why Marvel has like 10 different X-books. Those books are the ones that sell and grab all the attention because their "classic" or "cool" status, something that was determined decades ago and has stuck ever since. Not to say that they're not either of those things, but like I said, they hog all the attention even if it means that other characters' titles suffer as a result. The sad truth is that if DC had named this series "Gothic Justice League," it probably would have sold a lot more.

I guess the silver lining in this can be found in the fact that DC has definite plans for the creators behind this series. Robert Venditti is taking over as writer for Green Lantern and co-plotter for Green Lantern Corps. Bernard Chang, likewise, is going to be the artist for Green Lantern Corps. I'm looking forward to that as a big Green Lantern fan. However, I do hope that these characters find another, more permanent home in the DCU. Wouldn't Exoristos be the perfect character to guest star in Azzarello's Wonder Woman?

I also hope DC keeps taking risks on series like this. It at least shows they're being experimental with their output. That's why I'm going to support Simone's Movement and the Green Team. So I can show DC that at least I can appreciate them trying something different.

Anyway, great article as usual. And don't worry. At least with seven empty spots, DC should be looking to launch some new titles spinning out of Trinity War. Perhaps one will catch your interests. Also, at least we still have Wonder Woman.

#12 Edited by bob808 (6779 posts) - - Show Bio

I am sad to see this series got cancelled.

#13 Posted by SolthesunGod (278 posts) - - Show Bio

@babs I actually did get the first trade as result of you talking it up on the podcast. I thought it was great. That was about 3 months ago if not longer. Second trade still hasn't been released. I don't understand why these companies make it so hard to catch up.

#14 Posted by longbowhunter (7291 posts) - - Show Bio

Sara was the first person I thought of after reading the news yesterday. She did her part. The fault lays on my shoulders. I stopped buying it with the intention of picking it back up someday. Now look what happened.

#15 Posted by Cavemold (1684 posts) - - Show Bio

DC hardly promoted this book.

#16 Posted by GrandHarrier (122 posts) - - Show Bio

What about Legion of Super Heroes? I literally never heard you guys discuss that series. Ever. It's a landmark title that has existed in one form or another for 50+ years. And now? Gone. And that fact that it rarely if ever got reviewed, or discussed, was a real tragedy.

#17 Posted by Outside_85 (9548 posts) - - Show Bio

@solthesungod: Well thats a DC problem, Marvel has their trades out pretty quickly while DC waits almost half a year before they get them out.

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#18 Edited by The Stegman (25041 posts) - - Show Bio

The news saddened me greatly. I will miss this more than any of the other fallen titles.

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#19 Edited by iceslick (792 posts) - - Show Bio

@babs I'm for one, is also sad this series to go. I have been reading this series since the beginning and I have loved every single issue. I think I might even buy the trade with the full 23 issues if it ever comes out. It's just sad how people in the comics industry works. I think you did talk about it enough. It just people just rather buy the familiar heroes no matter how bad it is rather than a non-familiar series that's so good. I really hate that and I guess living in this world is what we have to deal with. I just hope the characters live on in future issues of other DC comic books. Also Ystin has also become one of my favorite DC characters all of because the way they written her in this book. The reason why I picked this book at first was because of Etrigan. I really love that character, but soon as I started reading this series, it switched over to Ystin. I'm glad you find the same way too! So let's hope for these characters to appear again in the near future!

#20 Posted by Joygirl (20063 posts) - - Show Bio

I wish DC had a mother. So I could s****ize her for this unforgivable offense.

#21 Edited by Machine_13 (2 posts) - - Show Bio

I was really saddened by the cancellations of FRANKENSTEIN and I, VAMPIRE - both of which I enjoyed as solid, quality books - but the loss of DEMON KNIGHTS is much deeper. This one hurts. DEMON KNIGHTS was special and unique, for all the reasons Sara named and then some. Last night after learning of the cancellation I re-read issues 1-10 and enjoyed them just as much, if not more, than the first time through. I hope it goes out on a great note. It will leave a hole in my monthly reading that nothing else can fill.

I'll echo what others have said with hope that perhaps Etrigan could turn up in JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK. It wouldn't forgive the loss, but it would be a tiny consolation. Also would add a potentially explosive dynamic into the JLD since both Jason Blood and Etrigan have complicated history with Madame X.

#22 Posted by dngn4774 (3220 posts) - - Show Bio

First I, Vampire now this sh!t. DC is really starting to piss me off. It's seems like anyone outside of the Big 7 always risks being shoved onto the chopping block. The editorial staff should recognize that DC is more than just Batman, Superman, and GL. You can keep giving them more books but if you they keep killing off all of the indie titles whats the point?

#23 Posted by Owie (3803 posts) - - Show Bio

I haven't read this at all, I guess purely out of a desire to limit the number of comics I buy, but it did always look kind of interesting. It's one of the few that I'd be interested in getting as a trade.

#24 Edited by AskaniSon295 (428 posts) - - Show Bio

what's a demonknight?

#25 Posted by Herx (374 posts) - - Show Bio

I will admit when the 2011 reboot occurred I looked at the cover of Demon Knights and though "nah. not my style". A week later, the next comic book day, I run in and grab a copy as I had listen to someone praise the book being one of the shining gems to come out of the confused muddle of the DC reboot, and since then I was hooked. I looked forward to reading this series every month and really got invested in the characters. This different take of Vandal Savage (younger, more brash and adventurous, living up (literally) his immortality and yet still being the dangerous figure we all know) was fantastic, the character dynamics absolutley brilliant, the notions at the beginning of medieval science working alongside magic was great and to just see a team as diverse as this one yet not being forced was great (plus do i have to mention the whole them being the first incarnation of stormwatch. i think not).

I was surprised to hear that this series had been selling so low, as all i heard was how much people enjoyed it, but then i remeber my first instinct of the book and the "meh" mentality. It's not mainstream, which was both its strength and its weeknes. The new-52 (or as it stands now with these cancellations the "we've lost control of everything-45") was intended to bring in new readers to DC comics, yet new readers don't know anything about these characters and as such would rather pick up an issue of teen titans, batman or justice league (which is why teen titans is the last standing member of the young justice books despite, in my own personal opinion, being the worst of them... well apart from Hawk and dove) which they think they're going to be more comfortable with as the books have had mainstream attachments to television or films, and though Etrigan may have appeared in a few episodes of Justice League and Batman Brave and the Bold the majority of new comic book fans aren't going to remember it. More needed to be done to advertise these titles. I'm not saying the same level as with Batman... despite the advertising of 'Inc #8 being the huge arse spoiler, but just something more, like a free Demon knights poster or more coverage in comic publications and in stores themselves (a life sized cut out of etrigan maby?) as there is an audience for this stuff. One of my house mates who hasn't read a comic in YEARS looked at my pull list, flicked through the covers and pretty much went "batman.... meh. justice league... meh. all-star wester... meh. HOLY SHIT! WHAT IS THIS! DEMON KNIGHTS! LOOKS BADASS! im nicking it". The mainstream titles that DC were going out of their way to advertise (which really doesn't make much sense. why advertise a title that everyone knows about? surlley thats backwards thinking) didn't grab his interests at all, but demon knights did.

Yet in this saddnes of seeing demon knights get cancelled I doubt that this will be that last we hear of them. This series has a cult following, and as we've come to see in comics sooner or later the cult following gets their series back (otherwise we get verbal)

#26 Posted by SavageDragon (2252 posts) - - Show Bio

Because this book and I, Vampire getting cancedlled the only two DC books I read are Talon and Earth 2. Such a loss. I pray Talon is safe.

#27 Posted by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

Meanwhile Red Lanterns stays on the shelves. It's not DC's fault. It's the readership.

#28 Posted by ULTRAstarkiller (6250 posts) - - Show Bio

@dondave said:

One of the best DC books, shouldn't have been cancelled

Just like Deathstroke.

#29 Posted by bladewolf (785 posts) - - Show Bio

My absolute favorite DC comic I've read in the last few years. It's such a shame this series got cancelled. I actually tried to increase sales as best I could (writing positive reviews of the issues, giving friends free copies of the issues to try and get them hooked, etc.), but alas it was all for naught...

#30 Posted by Zeeguy91 (1116 posts) - - Show Bio

@dngn4774 said:

First I, Vampire now this sh!t. DC is really starting to piss me off. It's seems like anyone outside of the Big 7 always risks being shoved onto the chopping block. The editorial staff should recognize that DC is more than just Batman, Superman, and GL. You can keep giving them more books but if you they keep killing off all of the indie titles whats the point?

DC does realize that. Its the readership that failed to do so. I saw DC promoting Demon Knights. Hell, DC did nonstop promotion of all the New 52 titles before the #1s hit the shelves. The same story with Threshold. The first issue of Threshold was being promoted in almost every DC book. Now, so is the Movement and Green Team. DC could have literally just devoted every ad page in their comics to these series, but it probably wouldn't make a difference. The vast majority of comic book readers will probably say to themselves "I can take a chance on this book with a cast of obscure characters, but a promising and fresh direction or I could get a fourth X-Men comic this week....I think I'll go for the X-Men comic."

#31 Posted by thenexusrebound (248 posts) - - Show Bio

I was sad to hear this series was ending. I was planning to pick up the trades to see if I would like it. I always thought the art was awesome.

#32 Posted by Mercy_ (92857 posts) - - Show Bio

SUCH a good book :(

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#33 Posted by Ghidoran (73 posts) - - Show Bio

@grandharrier: No one talks about it because it isn't that great.

#34 Posted by Beserkerfury (153 posts) - - Show Bio

Bad book is bad,hopefully we can get another Batman series running now that all these sorry ass comics were canceled.

#35 Posted by Avengers_4everXX (156 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe if DC didn't have three books dedicated solely to the solo adventures of Batman, people would have more room to try out different stuff. But hey, why promote our better written indie books when we can just throw out another second rate Superman book instead? Batwing and Red Lanterns getting worse reviews and selling less than several titles in our last wave of cancellations? Well we can't possible downscale on our franchise series, so sucks. At least Demon Knights actually got a chance, unlike Amethyst and Threshold. How does DC expect a series to become popular when they only give it eight issues? This is why I'm adding the Movement and the Green Team to my pull list. Lets just hope they give whatever series they replace the cancelled ones with a chance.

#36 Posted by ThatOneKidWhoLikesComics (58 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the series, and have enjoyed the storyline and characters so far. I was hoping this series would last longer, but oh well.

#37 Posted by arnoldoaad (1007 posts) - - Show Bio

I was talking about this on BC but DC really failed at promoting this book. it doesnt matter that they promoted it like any other book, that was not the right promotion, they didnt accomplished their goal of reaching the right costumers as in the readers of Conan, Red Sonja, the D&D players, those who watch Game of Thrones.

that is the purpose of these comics. they are non-mainstream, DC failed at them.

#38 Edited by Catsnlynne (1039 posts) - - Show Bio

Of course DC didn't do enough to promote Demon Knights. It didn't have Batman in it.

#39 Edited by ArturoCalaKayVee (12019 posts) - - Show Bio

UGH, this is so upsetting, I love this book. I've been a few issues behind but I was so excited to catch up. Now I don't even know if it's worth it.

#40 Edited by RoTheKid (253 posts) - - Show Bio

@babs I have to say, if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have given this book a chance. Now, admittedly, I hadn't been keeping up with the book, however, with its recent cancellation announcement, I will have to pick up more issues! And because of this announcement, I will also pick up Justice League: Dark. I do believe you recommended this one as well, Sara. Anyway, gotta start giving more books a chance, regardless if it's DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Valiant, or any other publisher!

#41 Edited by Jake Fury (18933 posts) - - Show Bio

Boooooo!!!!

Demon Knights, Frankenstein, OMAC and I, Vampire we hardly knew thee.

#42 Posted by Hassun (122 posts) - - Show Bio

Exoristos gave Azzarello's Wonder Woman a run for her money when it came to being the best Amazon in DC.

Demon Knights is/was a great book, sad to see it go.

#43 Posted by The Mighty Monarch (2267 posts) - - Show Bio

Regardless of the full nature of Shining Knights's sex/gender, HE clearly identifies himself as being male, and should be referred to with male pronouns.

#44 Edited by MrMiracle77 (1659 posts) - - Show Bio

Y'know before the Channel 52 segments started popping up in the back of DC's books, I found myself regularly skipping over a Superman preview, a Batman preview, and even a Constantine preview in one title after another. What was DC thinking? Was Superman not popular enough that readers of New Guardians, Demon Knights, and Flash needed to see him for a couple of pages at the end of their books? Did that really boost sales at all? Hey, why not use Superman's books or Batman's books to push something like Demon Knights instead and shore up a good book that is having trouble making sales?

#45 Edited by Stormbox (2001 posts) - - Show Bio

@beserkerfury said:

Bad book is bad,hopefully we can get another Batman series running now that all these sorry ass comics were canceled.

God, its like your only purpose in life is to be as much a troll as you possibly can

Its kind of a miracle when you think about it, albeit one nobody wanted to see in the first place that is

#46 Posted by fodigg (6146 posts) - - Show Bio

I will miss Demon Knights. It was as close as the new 52 came to the greatness that was Secret Six.

#47 Posted by Press Oblivion (1643 posts) - - Show Bio

Man . . .I want to read this now.

#48 Edited by Star109 (7 posts) - - Show Bio

@avengers_4everxx:

But see the fact is they did try with this book.The sad truth is this book failed because people would rather spend there money on a other Bat title than try something new.

#49 Posted by Twentyfive (2845 posts) - - Show Bio

It is a damn shame that DC has to close the book on Demon Knights and let live crappy Batman and Superman titles like Detective, the Dark Knight, Katana, and got-danged World's Finest.

Good gracious.

#50 Posted by RazzaTazz (9676 posts) - - Show Bio

I read the first six issues or so. It was a good series.

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