By Matt O’Keefe
An atheist, a Catholic Priest, a Jewish Rabbi, an Islamic Mullah, a Hindu Brahmin, and a Buddhist Monk. Sounds like the start of a convoluted joke, but it’s actually the cast of a damn fine comic from Dynamite Entertainment.
The Devilers is a series written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Matt Triano about five exorcists of different backgrounds tasked to take on a Devil who’s welched on his deal. It’s a story told in the same vein as classic Vertigo’s dark fantasy titles like Hellblazer and Books of Magic, and, like Hellblazer in particular, the comic feels bitter. On the first page Father Malcolm explains away three supposed cases of demonic interference. By page three he’s watching Vatican City burn to the ground without shedding a tear. Fialkov included a recurring distaste for religion amongst his characters that plays well in the wake of an impending Armageddon.
The look of the book is perfectly suited for the story. Matt Triano’s art is realistic without feeling static, and his use of shadows and silhouettes compliments the tone nicely. All his characters feel like they have an inner darkness to them, which Fialkov probably intends. What I’m extremely impressed with, though, is how every demon in the story is drawn as a different beast. The effort put into designing all of them individually must have been extensive, and it adds a lot to the mythology of the book, especially in subsequent issues as we get to know more about the different demons.
As Part 1 of a seven-part story, there’s a lot we don’t know yet; The Devilers only just formed by the end of the first issue. The set-up will feel familiar to readers of team books, but it’s solid. Good storytelling relies on conflict, and an alliance of six characters of different and conflicting faiths is ripe with potential for conflict. The Devilers is not only a great comic but a strong start to Dynamite’s Creators Unleashed program, and I’m excited to see where both go next.