Review: Demon Knights #4 by Paul Cornell, Michael Choi, & Diogenes Neves

Demon Knights #4

“Merlin Watches The Storm”

Written by: Paul Cornell
Pencilled by: Michael Choi and Diogenes Neves
Inked by: Michael Choi and Oclair Albert
Colored by: Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by: Jared K. Fletcher

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

When I heard that Demon Knights #4 was going to be all about Shining Knight’s origin, I will admit I was a little disappointed. The main story has been moving a little slowly at times anyway, so I figured an extensive flashback sequence about Shining Knight would just slow the pace down more. Instead, Cornell ends up producing an entertaining comic that seems to be very important to the shape and direction of the DC Relaunch Universe.

Before I really start on this review, I want to give special thanks to my co-conspirators Grey and Babos, both of whom have written extensively on how the Relaunch universe seems to constantly be tying together in new and surprising ways.

Also, I will warn that this review will likely have a lot of potential spoilers from events around DC Relaunch, though I will admit that a lot of it is speculation.

Okay, with all that out of the way, what is this comic all about?

Summary (contains spoilers): Last issue ended with the Dark Queen’s evil hordes arriving showing that they had brutally killed the young girl who has been trying to spy on them. Shining Knight is enraged, ready to kill them all, but she suddenly collapses, having visions of her past. She is visited in her vision by Merlin. We find out that Shining Knight was a knight during King Arthur days (which is where Demon Knights #1 started). We find out that Merlin gave Shining Knight a drink from the Holy Grail in order to keep her alive after the Fall of Camelot, which was 9000 years ago.

Shining Knight had been questing for the beasts that destroyed Camelot ever since. Her journey through the years would often require her to sleep for centuries at a time, and she would endow her horse with this same blessing of eternal life.

Back in the real world, Jason Blood hears her mutter the name Merlin, and he starts to demand that Merlin free him from the curse that turned him into the Demon:

Merlin shows Shining Knight that she’s the best chance for returning the Holy Grail to him, but the quest will lead to difficult choices, her being possessed by an evil spirit, and losing everyone she loves.

The only way that Camelot can ever be restored is for the Grail to be returned to Merlin, so Shining Knight agrees to carry out this quest, no matter what the difficulties that lay ahead.

Back in the present, we find out that the Dark Queen is also trying to track down the Holy Grail.

The issue ends with Horsewoman firing a barrage of arrows into the horde. Before the heroes can celebrate, she then turns around and puts several arrows into Exoristos, which is how the comic ends.

So, why do I think this comic is so important to DC Relaunch

Well, a couple reasons. At the end of this book, when waking up from her flashback, Shining Knights says that soon she would come to know the Demon Knights:

Jason Blood’s assumption is that they mean the group of heroes that have gathered to protect Little Spring. But last week, we also saw the name Demon Knights in another context. In Grey’s Wildstorm Watch column he pointed out that the word Demon Knights came up in the last issue of Grifter, with Ollie mishearing the word Daemonite and thinking that it was Demon Knights:

There is no way that is a coincidence. I think that the Beasts that destroyed Camelot and the ones that Shining Knight has been hunting all these millenium are the Daemonites.

Another reason I think this comic is so important to DC Relaunch is that the title of this book seems a bit blatantly obvious: “Merlin Watches the Storm.” Stormwatch issue 1 (which was also written by Paul Cornell) already suggested that Demon Knights had ties to Stormwatch:

And Demon Knights #4 seems to confirm that fully.  My speculation here is that the name of this book “Demon Knights” actually refers to the Daemonites, and that our group of heroes are Stormwatch who will be still fighting Daemonites in the modern DC.

My third reason that this book seems to be so important is one that no one else seems to have picked up on. I actually think this book is telling us the origins of DC Relaunch’s Captain Marvel. For one thing, Merlin actually had ties to Captain Marvel in The Trials of Shazam. According to Wikipedia: “As of the Trials of Shazam maxi-series, the aspect of Merlin still free in the world now exhibits a visible demonic aspect and goes by his Welsh name “Myrddin.”

When Shining Knight’s vision starts, Merlin introduces himself as “Myrddin, Thing of the Dung”:

He also comments that he’s a Bird of Prey and a Black Hawk, but I don’t want to get too carried away with my speculation.

And when Merlin is telling Shining Knight the story of the Holy Grail, he mentions:

Lightning as a delivery vehicle of otherworldly energy….hmmm….sounds a lot like the lightning bolt that transforms Billy Batson to Captain Marvel.

And when you look at the case that Merlin puts the Holy Grail in before tossing it into obvlivion, the logo on the box really reminded me of Captain Marvel’s logo:

Merlin also tells us that the Grail would likely turn up again, which would explain how Billy Batson ends up with his powers later, though I guess we won’t know for sure until his story starts in Justice League #7.

Yes, I know that this is really just a lot of speculation, and I could be way off on all of this, but it definitely is what all this evidence suggests to me, no matter how flimsy it might seem. If any of this ends up being true, I definitely want to get credit for my foresight. You can just say that I used the Wisdom of Solomon.

Review: Man…this review is already over 1100 words, and I haven’t actually even reviewed the comic yet. I’ll try to keep this pretty brief, as most of my feelings about this book are similar to my review of the first issue.

Cornell really seems to be building a very epic story here, and it’s even more impressive when it seems to have such deep ties to the rest of the DC Relaunch universe.  I was concerned about a flashback issue, but Cornell really seems to have a very clear vision for Demon Knights laid out.  I actually hope that he slips in more of these flashback sequences to show us how all these characters ended up here.

The dialouge continues to be sharp, and I love the characterization. One of my favorite moments in the book was when Vandal Savage seemed to be addressing the reader directly when he knew the names of Jason Blood but had no idea what  Exoristos’ name was. To be honest, I had to look her name up when I was writing up my summary for this review too.

Most of the art in this book was done by Michael Choi drawing the flashback scenes, which were absolutely gorgeous. They had a terrific dreamlike quality to them, which seems to be exactly what the book was trying to convey. Series artist Diogenes Neves drew some framing sequences that continued to show he’s the perfect artist for this book. I especially loved the sheer brutality of the last two pages. Demon Knights is about war, and Cornell and Neves present the horrific images of war without flinching.

Demon Knights continues to be one of my favorite books of Relaunch, and I was surprised to see that this book seems to have a real important place in the Relaunch universe. I definitely thing this is a comic that everyone should be checking out!

Final Score: 9.5 I really think that when all is said and done, this issue will end up being very important to the DC Relaunch universe. Maybe I am reading too much into some things, but if not, this issue is required reading! And even if it isn’t, Demon Knights still is one of the best books DC puts out, so reading it is a win-win situation.

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