The Magic of Demon Knights #3

For my fourth ever critical examination of the science of a single comic book issue I decided to look at Demon Knights.  The main problem facing me though is that this is not a science fiction book rather mostly a fantasy one (and thus no science).  Therefore instead of looking at the science I will look at the magic of this issue.  Strangely enough a lot of the magic focused directly on women.  Also as before keep in mind that most of the issue is given away here. I also obviously can’t analyze whether it is good or bad magic.    


Faustian Bargain

This is an interesting twist on a Faustian bargain as Madame Xanadu is in a sense selling her beauty to protect a demon as opposed to the usual case of selling your soul (or something else of value) to a demon or the devil in return for power.  It is interesting here that Madame Xanadu pays for her spell with her age and beauty, and thus by association also an aspect of her femininity.   



Barrier Maiden

This is not really a magical concept, instead it is a trope that I ran across.  Essentially the case here is that instead of a damsel in distress sometimes a female character, although still in a sense someone that needs to be rescued, also is someone that is an active part in the protection of a barrier.  This would be the case here with the Horsewoman, a mysterious character whose job appears to be to protect the mountain pass and is not bound by the magical barrier around the town.  Another aspect of being a barrier maiden is that the abandonment of the barrier can have catastrophic effects.  Although seemingly a throwaway character, the young peasant girl that goes for help meets an unfortunate end later on.



Science as Magic and Prestidigitation/Legerdemain

This is the one which interests me the most.  Thus far the character al Jabr has been portrayed also quite mysteriously, but appears as something more related to a stage magician than a true sorcerer.  Throughout history people have often resisted the influence of science as a form of heresy.  More so many important scientific discoveries during the Middle Ages in Europe were done by those from Arabia and Persia as the influence of Islam over science was not as strong (al Jabr’s name suggests he is from one of the two places.)  As with most stage magicians though al Jabr does not reveal his secrets, and instead gets confused with a real magician.    




Quests are a fairly common theme in fantasy based fiction, and although they don’t need to be magical, in this case they are (as they have appeared to Sir Ystin in a vision).  Heroes often are in search of something on a quest and must face a number of obstacles, and in this case this plays into the other aspect of Sir Ystin, that it is presumably a woman posing as a man (or at least this is alluded to more than once). There are numerous accounts of this in both fiction and history and this seems to be tying into the underlying purpose of the quest here.  If that is the case presumably some aspect of romantic love is also to be incorporated.

As a final note, and as a person that often makes mention of the way in which women are portrayed, this issue is all over the place in this regard, from selling of beauty to decapitation to hiding gender to heroic sacrifice. 

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Posted by Leliel

Now this something interesting women in comics, women in media in general. As you mention here we have all tropes; the beauty, the strong-woman, the maiden in disguise, and could go on and to say I actually like it would be undermine. I would particularly like a team made of more female heroes than males maybe from different times and exploring the different way each of this men and women see gender in those eras. Oh I gatten away from the actual topic. Which I must say was very interesting are the many of your blogs