A Fast Paced Demonic Thriller In The First Issue Of The Devilers

By Christopher Helton

When your first complaint about a new comics is "man, that was too short" that bodes well for the issue, right? It does for The Devilers by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Matt Triano, the brand new comic through Dynamite's new creator-owned imprint.

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Maybe it is because I grew up in a time when movies about exorcists and people fighting off demonic possession were popular (as opposed to now, when they are popular again), but these kinds of stories have always appealed to me. Whether in the Geoff Jones penned The Possessed, many Hellblazer stories or any number of Top Cow comics dealing with the themes of demonic possession/invasion, nothing gets my attention like a good demonic story.

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The first issue of The Devilers is a good demonic story. I mentioned those other comics because Fialkov's story has a lot in common with them. The world weary, cynical and jaded main character. Secret Vatican accords with demons. An occult history unknown even to the main character. Yes, a number of these things are a bit clichéd in the action horror genre, but in Fialkov's hands they transcend the clichés. And, yes, there are some silly parts. A rabbi/Mossad agent/occult expert is a bit over the top, but in a world where invisible demons are walking the world that can be excused.

This comic proceeds at a breakneck, thriller, pace and there is a lot that is crammed into these pages. If you are a fan of more decompressed storytelling, this might not work for you, but I still suggest giving it a try. First issues are hard. It takes a lot of work to create a tone, create a world, and make people want to come back for more. There is that razor thin line for exposition in a story, between too much and not enough. In The Devilers Fialkov dances back and forth across that line and successfully weaves his new world around you as you read it. There is a couple of places where get to be a bit too much of an info dump, and this could have probably been avoided by not introducing as many characters all in the first issue.

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If I had to pick at a flaw of the book it would be that there is a lot going on in it. There are demons, the Vatican in flames, a team of heroes all being introduced in these pages. All of these things happening does enforce the idea that this is a lot of heavy and important stuff that is all happening right now, but it can be overwhelming. I don't think that all of this ruins the comic, and the lack of breathing room does contribute to the pacing, but it can be a lot to take in.  We will see how the pacing holds up over the next few issues.

One complaint that I typically have about Dynamite comics that thankfully did not happen with The Devilers is that the company tends to take talented writers and pair them with less capable artists, marring the otherwise good stories. Triano broke that mold with evocative and polished art that not only fits the tone of the story but elevates it. With another artist this book could have ended up with a schlocky Troma Movies feel, and wonderfully that did not occur. Triano's art manages to wed the realist and the fantastic in a way that breathes life into the world that Fialkov has created.

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Should you pick up The Devilers? Hell, yes. It passed that ultimate test of a first issue: "What? I have to wait a month for another issue?!? Arrgghh!!" So, yeah, I enjoyed the read. There were some flaws to it, but most of it are things that will hopefully be smoothed out over the course of the story. I was curious and interested in this book before it quickly sold out its first printing, and the book definitely delivered. Fialkov and Triano have created a comic that makes me want to keep coming back for more. It isn't a perfect comic but it was a fun ride and I want another turn on it.

Christopher Helton is a blogger, podcaster and tabletop RPG publisher who talks about games and other forms of geekery at the long-running Dorkland! blog. He is also the co-publisher at the ENnie Award winning Battlefield Press, Inc.  You can find him on Twitter at @dorkland and on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherHelton/ where he will talk your ear off about gaming and comics.

Christopher has a crowdfunding page to help raise money to defray the costs for going to the Gen Con gaming convention and cover it for his Dorkland! blog and Bleeding Cool. Please click here to go to the page and help out.

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About Christopher Helton

A geek blogger and rogue game designer. Lead writer for the Dorkland! blog (http:http://dorkland.blogspot.com ) and co-publisher of the ENnie Awarding winning tabletop RPG company Battlefield Press, Inc.
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