REVIEW: The Demon #5

THE DEMON #5 cover A

THE DEMON #5

Story & Art: Matt Kyme
Cover B by Matthew Dunn

 

STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN IN THE NIGHT-TIME HOURS

‘The Demon’ by Matt Kyme is an odd duck of a comic, but one that will warm the heart of the older comic story aficionado, and hopefully inspire the younger generations to seek out books from a time gone by.

Remember The Phantom? Prepare for a trip down memory lane with this one.

I’m ashamed to say this was my first exposure to Kyme’s work, and I have to admit, it evokes my primal comic sensibilities. This is a wonderful trip back in time, to the way comics used to be. When I finished the book, great memories of reading The Phantom came tumbling back. Sitting up a tree as a young lad, I would devour page after page of pulpy Phantom goodness.

Reading The Demon gave me the same sensations – purity, simple storytelling that still grabs you by the throat. I was reminded of the time I fell in love with comics, and I sincerely thank Matt Kyme for that experience.

Presented in newspaper strip style, the collected panels tell a noir account of jilted lovers and femme fatales. I lapped it up. The pacing was brilliant – 12 panel grids every page that gave a great beat to the read. After reading, it occurred to me how difficult it must be to emulate such art. It is pitch perfect for the story, and could very well be part of a legitimate Golden Age story.

Having said that, it’s not exactly amazing. It doesn’t define the genre, or bring anything new to the table. It plays it safe to great effect.  Not too dialogue heavy, and when there is action, it is quick and moves well. Speaking of the dialogue, it is fantastic. Kyme has nailed the 30’s / 40’s sensibilities to great effect (what the deuce! Mind the lip, kid). It oozes with a ‘Dick Tracey’ vibe.

Exposition comes straight from the characters, there is no narration, lending heavily to the 40’s style storytelling. This combination of old school gumshoe dialogue and simple 3 panel scenes results in story that flows greatly. Twists are alluded to in the immediately preceding panel, and when The Demon runs afoul of The Heartbreakers Gang, it is a familiar story. Familiar is the key word here – even though the story may appear cliché, it’s something we haven’t seen in a while, and the nostalgia factor is through the roof.

I thoroughly enjoyed the backup story, ‘The Lapwing.’ Taking place in 1974, we are treated to an origin story of sorts for the latest incarnation of The Demon. Yes, just like the Phantom and many others, the character of The Demon is passed on from generation to generation. As this story takes place in the 70’s, everything from the art to the characterization is completely different to the main story. Panels are more open and not beholden to the 12-panel grid, the shading is deeper and used to great effect, and the story itself is reminiscent of any golden-age hero; remembering great advice from a parent before leaping into action.

I’m intrigued. The Demon #5 made me yearn for the books of yesteryear. There’s no agenda, no politics, just good old-fashioned heroic storytelling. Of course, it’s not for everyone. Not to sound ageist, but I would imagine a younger audience would struggle with this. It is experimental for sure, but in this instance, the experiment worked insanely well.

I want more.

 

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About James Cassingham Randall

James Cassingham Randall
James Cassingham Randall lives in Brisbane with his wife and cats. He collaborates with artist Dan Watts, and is currently working on a few short stories for Bipp and Trax: Intergalactic Real Estate. James enjoys whiskey, ice hockey, a good narrative, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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