These comics take place in the Dark Ages, long before the rest of the current DC comics. Initially we’re introduced and given the backstory for Etrigan and Jason Blood, which I won’t spoil here because its very good and I want you to go read the comics yourself. I will say its different slightly from the old one. If you’re familiar with Etrigan, you pretty much know that these comics are going to be very violent, and that fact is drilled into you with the introductions of Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage (one of the classic villains in DC comics who in this series becomes allies with Etrigan through bizarre circumstances). You also are introduced to the town of Little Spring, a small village directly in the path of the Horde, lead by the Questing Queen and Mordru (another classic DC villain). The Horde is a gathering of barbaric creatures and savages who have been rampaging through the country killing anything that gets in their way.
In the town of Little Spring, Etrigan/Jason Blood and Madame Xanadu meet up with Vandal Savage, Shining Knight (a gaelic knght of ambiguous gender), Al Jabr (an inventor and ambassador from a nearby country), and Exoristos (an amazon with a violent temper) while stopping in the local inn for food and drink. While there the outriders of the horde burst in causing trouble. This does not go over well with Blood and the rest of those gathered and of course a fight breaks out, its a tavern after all. This triggers the first time you hear the Rhyme of Etrigan (which has changed to a new variation) and see Jason transform on his own into the demon. During the violence you learn that even though Madame Xanadu is acting as if she loves Jason, she is in truth in love with Etrigan and using Jason for some other purpose. Before the heroes (if you can call them that) can finish the fight a dragon busts in and Issue 1 ends with a cliff hanger.
Issue 2 picks up with the dragon and more outriders heading into town. When Vandal Savage sees the dragon he says one of the best lines i’ve seen in the comics so far “Excellent! I haven’t eaten one of these in centuries!” and immediately attacks it while rhyming as if mocking Etrigan (who is famous in comics for speaking in rhyme). The group continues to beat down the baddies until there is a slight lull in the battle. We get a few scenes where the group learn more about the Horde from the townsfolk and encounter a mysterious horse woman who lives in the hills and is the town’s early warning system. We get a great sense of Etrigan displaying his morhpic abilities by growing wings and taking to the air for a spectacular aerial battle where Shinig Knight joins him with his/her (did i mention they haven’t said if its a guy or girl yet and the face is very ambiguous?) pegasus mount as they combat some more beasts that look like a combination of dragon and pterodactyl. The issue ends with the Queen demanding the entire village be fireballed and the tagline for the next issue is “The Maleficent Seven”.
As a HUGE fan of Etrigan i am thrilled they brought him into a comic that lets him be as violent as he wants without being completely out of his element. The addition of Vandal Savage as a savage barbarian with a rage problem is the perfect counterbalance to Etrigan’s calculating yet violent personality and they work very well together. The love triangle between Xanadu and Jason Blood/Etrigan looks to be an interesting complication while the innumerable Horde and Mordru provide an unlimited amount of enemies for the “heroes” to fight. I say “heroes” like that because I’m betting at some point Vandal Savage is going to show his natural bad-guy stream and Etrigan is really more an Anti-Hero. The artwork is what you’d expect in a DC comic, and the way they handle the fight scenes shows that they’ve got an eye on making them flow without being distracting.
Make no mistakes, this is going to be a violent and bloody comic and I’m going to love it every step of the way! From the new background for Jason Blood, which no matter how i describe it you have to read to understand, to the relationship complications and the interesting choice of Vandal Savage as a heroic character i think this will be one of the breakout comics of The New 52.
Gone gone the reviewer of comics…until next issue.