The young girl who Etrigan the Demon toasted at the end of last issue turns out to be none other than Merlin the Magician in disguise. As always, Etrigan is at the ready to maim his brother, but Merlin quickly justifies his presence by explaining to the Demon, Jason Blood, and Madame Xanadu what he is doing here and what exactly is going on. We learn the one responsible for the encroaching Hell in Death Valley, and we learn whether or not Etrigan the Demon is willing to stop it.
The Demon: Hell is Earth #3 slows the previously smooth pacing with its plot dump courtesy of Merlin. This comic makes the mistake of assuming we need a highly detailed explanation of a rather conventional occult story arc in comic books. The forces of Hell want to bring the underworld to the overworld. That just seems like the thing they prefer to do. We could have discovered this as we went along without Merlin casting a spell of exposition. The twists and turns could have come with the progression of the story itself.
Regarding the one responsible for pushing up on the Hell-evator — well, it won't come as a surprise to anyone with some knowledge of the Demon's history and antagonists.
What saves it from becoming too banal is Etrigan's constantly awful attitude. He keeps threatening to separate Merlin from various parts of his body. Jason and Xanadu are no fans of Merlin either, so they're entertainingly complacent with the idea of the Demon killing the Arthurian sorcerer.
Plus, the exposition finishes up about halfway through, and we get to see the Demon return to bloody and violent action. He gets a bit brutal with the forces of Hell, and it's damnably fantastic.
Xanadu and Blood get oddly pushed to the background in this comic. Etrigan and Merlin take up most of the page space and dialogue.
Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy continue to give the comic high visual fidelity in this issue. The Demon and the hellish antagonists still look very awesome. Merlin looks appropriately grim and serious. There are some odd faces made by unusual angles on some characters here and there, but the overall comic looks good. Chris Sotomayor's color art brings the netherworld palette, and there are many landscapes vastly improved by his eye for chromatic balance.
The Demon: Hell is Earth #3 does kill the pacing a little bit courtesy of exposition wizard, but it's still an overall fun experience. Etrigan's personality has a way of salvaging even the slower moments, and the bloody finale is quite enjoyable. Mix that with some solid artwork, and you have a pretty damn good comic. This one gets another recommendation. Check it out.