Review by Frank Plowright
Devil-Slayer had dotted around the Marvel universe for decades before earning his sole graphic novel to date. Beyond a demonic theme, however, this incarnation bears very little resemblance to the cloaked character of old.
Danny Sylva’s an Iraq vet who found the transition to civilian life difficult, and Brian Keene’s script over the opening pages is a damning indictment of why that is, with support services non-existent and a lack of understanding among anyone who’s not seen combat. Sylva’s solution is to re-enlist with his old unit, but he’s told things have now changed. An organisation of private contractors named Bloodstone now operate in the area, seemingly answering to no-one and not to be trusted. That’s the least of it.
These days Chris Samnee is rightly acclaimed as the brilliant artist he is, but on the basis of Devil-Slayer he’s been that good for a long time. There’s page after page of elegant composition, in which the panels are packed with detail, yet never seem crowded, and his redesign for Devil-Slayer is very Lawrence of Arabia, suited to the area of combat while still mysterious and able to blend in.
However, it’s not just Samnee who’s good. Keene knows his way around a horror plot, his novel CV already fullsome in 2008, and it’s grown enormously since. It takes until the midway point for Devil-Slayer to manifest, but the set-up is fast paced, gruesome and gripping, so that’s not a concern. The genre blending of war and horror has an ideal location in Iraq, but Keene comes up with an extensive background for it being the proposed site of armageddon, a condition some parties are interested in hurrying along. Suspense is maintained until the finale in what becomes a decent example of one man against impossible odds.
This is a very good set-up for a series, but one that never materialised. We’re still left with four chapters of cinematic horror by an excellent creative team worth looking out today.