DCAU #110: Demons

IN THIS ONE... The struggle for a mystical tablet flares up between Ra's al Ghul and the Demon Etrigan.

CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; art by Glen Murakami and Bruce Timm (co-plotters).

REVIEW: Matching the Demon and the Demon's Head, Ra's al Ghul, is a great idea, and the creators lay the Kirby tribute on pretty thick as if to ask the (New) Gods permission to use Etrigan. The art is dynamic, that's a must, and the designs are straight out of Kirby, or else looks like they are (case in point Haahk the demon summoned by the tablet). But it's also a very bloodthirsty comic, quite violent for the DCAU. People die left and right, like the innocent victims of Ra's destruction of a building (just after we meet the poor souls who meet their end in the prologue, well done), and the various henchmen who get fried and turned into skeletal corpses by dangerous magic and demonic hands. The stakes are high.

Jason Blood is quick to reveal his immortality to Batman, but then, he must use divinatory magic all the time; he'd know who to trust. Blood and Etrigan as "partners" is a good way for him to tell his history with Ra's, though you'd think in for a penny, in for a pound, and it's Batman who makes the "Rise the Demon Etrigan" incantation later, so... why do coy? I do like the idea of Blood and Ra's fighting over mystical artifacts across the centuries. Perhaps they crossed swords with Vandal Savage as well. Overall, we don't get a WHOLE lot of the Demon itself, except for the final punch-up. Perhaps there are too many characters to service.

And yet, one might have cut the extended hallucination/dream Batman has after getting tranqed by Talia. Part romance, part nightmare, part mystery, the dream is nevertheless fun to follow. And when Talia is in a story, you really do want Batman to explore his mixed feelings about her (and hers about him). Here, both of them do what they must, every gesture filled with regret. And in the end, the coda isn't about Etrigan, but about how this relationship is destroyed with every new engagement.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Batman will eventually meet Jack Kirby's Jason Blood/Etrigan in animation, in "The Demon Within" where they appear to already know each other; now we know how. The Demon lives in Gotham in the comics too. Another Kirby tribute is the strange aquatic goddess Batman sees in his hallucinatory dream. She's from Kirby's Weird Mystery Tales #1 (1972), a story called "Witch Queen of Ancient Sumeria". And finally, there's the reverse-spell (corrupting a page from Zatanna) that reads "Kirby is the greatest" (the others say "My sweet satin", "Sometimes my arms turn back", and "I buried Paul!".

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - A high-octane story in which Batman steps into the world of the supernatural and it works quite well, though the tone is a bit intense compared to the rest of the DCAU.

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