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Comic Book Throwback Review – The Demon #6 (DC Comics)

The Demon #6 (DC Comics) cover (detail) by Jack Kirby
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The Demon #6

Writer: Jack Kirby
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Mike Royer
Publisher: DC Comics

Etrigan the Demon faces off against the monstrous The Howler, but there is more to this beast than meets the eye and Jason Blood might be the key to saving it.

 

Etrigan the Demon Faces the Howler in The Demon #6

Once again back with another Comic Book Throwback Review; today we are looking at a Jack Kirby classic in The Demon #6 from DC Comics. Etrigan the Demon has always been an interesting character to me. I never knew much about him, but the hunched-over, grotesque design, the rhyming talking he does, it always piqued my interest.

Well, I got all the knowledge I could want about Etrigan the Demon when my wife bought me the complete 16-issue collection of Jack Kirby’s The Demon. For one, how can you not love the cover of this collection? Just pure Kirby goodness. Second, how cool is my wife for getting me this for Christmas, she knows me too well! I won’t lie, though; the first few issues of this, especially the beginning origin story, are a little rough to get into. As dynamic and legendary an artist as Kirby is, his writing, at times, is a little rough. It’s not terrible, but a little hard to get through. But once you do, it gets more into a “Monster of the Week” type storytelling, which works for this character extremely well.

The Demon #6 (DC Comics) cover by Jack Kirby
The Demon #6 (DC Comics) cover by Jack Kirby

Also, the setting allows Kirby’s imagination to run wild. Bringing in the ancient world of sword and sorcery with modern-day super-heroics and occult/demonology allows Kirby to do some wacky things with the character of Etrigan. I mean, we have Merlin the Wizard as a main character; a demon that talks in rhymes; witch children; a witch named Ugly Meg; Soul Snatchers; and this play on a werewolf-like creature in The Demon #6

The Howler

The Demon also has Kirby going back to his horror/monster comic days, but blending it a bit with his Fourth World/New Gods sci-fi stuff. It is a nice little mix you can see as you read through these issues. The Demon #6 is a straight-up monster/horror story, though. Jason Blood finds himself in Transylvania (which is a fantastic location). After battling evil witch Ugly Meg and the Iron Duke, Jason Blood is looking for a way back to the US. He happens upon a small pub that soon boards its doors, as the residents fear the beast “The Howler” as its wicked cry goes across the land.

I can’t help but feel the similarities in the scene in the pub with the best werewolf movie ever, An American Werewolf in London. It is a small pub in the countryside, filled with regulars fearing the howl of the beast. Jason Blood being a “tourist”. The visuals have some similarities as well. I can’t help but believe that maybe a little bit of that scene in the movie was pulled from this comic. Anyway, Jason Blood heads out and comes face to face with the Howler. Luckily, he recites a rhyme and turns into Etrigan the Demon.

Now, Kirby makes it clear that this “Howler” is not a werewolf, but let us face it, it is a “werewolf” creature. Apparently an archaeologist cursed by some ancient magic, looking to transfer his curse.

Back Home

Kirby throws a bit of a curveball into the story after Etrigan and the Howler’s first encounter. The Howler turns back into his human form and follows Jason Blood home. Knowing Blood is a demonologist, he wants him to perform an exorcism on him to release the Howler curse. It is all a pretty wild scene, as Blood performs it only to be interrupted by his possible love interest. The Demon fights the Howler again, throwing him out a window. The archaeologist dies, but not before passing the curse of the Howler onto an innocent bystander. The Demon #6 ends with an ominous howl going over the city (which just happens to be Gotham City). Great eerie ending.

The Demon #6 is one of those “monster of the week” type stories. Now, Kirby does build up some bigger things in the background of the run, but issues like this (much like The X-Files) are my favorite. Now, Kirby is very wordy with his dialogue, and at times this, too, can be a little rough to get through. But it is a fun little story and a good little horror in it.

It’s Time

Okay, so the main event, as always, with Jack “the King” Kirby is the artwork. I mean, he is a legend and he shines as brightly as ever in The Demon #6. He starts off the issue strong the first page is a great shot of the monster howling in a field with the ancient-looking Transylvania town in the background. Then you turn to a delightful two-page spread of that after mentioned pub scene. It is full of detail and wonderful characters. Man, it is one of those pages you can just look at for days. Tons of little details, from the characters’ clothing, to the candles, to the little things on the walls. Kirby does some exquisite work here. He also sets the perfect mood for the story in these pages. The coloring is bright but it still has this dark, ominous tone about it.

The first fight scene between the Howler and Etrigan is fantastic as well. Kirby fills the pages with tons of energy and movement. There is a wonderful scene of the Howler catching a charging horse and tossing it to the wayside. It looks great, as Kirby draws a fantastic-looking horse, and just the image of the Howler catching the horse and tossing it. It not only shows the character’s strength, but may be a little unintentionally comical at the same time.

The whole issue is full of splendid detail and wild visuals you expect from a master like Kirby. It also seems he is having fun with what wild stuff he can put in these stories. That exorcism scene is filled with all kinds of crazy things. We can’t look past incredible inker Mike Royer. He does a great job of bringing out all those details in The Demon #6. He adds some flair with some deep, dark, thick ink lines. It really adds a nice look to the series.

Leave, Leave the Form of Man; Rise the Demon Etrigan

The Demon #6 is a fun story, though Kirby can be very wordy at times. Even if you don’t know much about Etrigan the Demon you can get the gist of it and enjoy this story. If you are at all interested in Etrigan and/or just want some terrific Jack Kirby art in your life I highly recommend you pick up this collection. Or, if you have an awesome significant other like myself, maybe they will buy it for you! Really, though, fun stuff here with Kirby doing some more horror/fantasy mix up. 4 “Kirby Dots” out of 5.


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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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