In 2020 Marvel Comics unveiled their new Stormbreakers, a title for the next wave of elite artists working for them. One of the members of Stormbreakers is Peach Momoko. And there is a very good reason why Marvel believes so much in Momoko as her comic book covers have been some of the most stunning and best-selling in the industry. Now Marvel has tapped Momoko for a mini-series that will be made of five one-shots under the title of Demon Days. The first of these comics is Demon Days: X-Men. With how spectacular Momoko’s covers have been I’m excited to see what she can do with a full comic where she is handling both the story and art. Let’s find out with Demon Days: X-Men #1.
Writer & Artist: Peach Momoko
English Translation: Zack Davisson
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: A long time ago humans and Yokai (spirits of Earth, air, fire, water, life, and death) live in peace. The Oni forms of Yokai coexisted alongside humans for a long time until the humans greed got the best of them and they started cutting the forests to expand their territory. In the process the humans ended up leaving the Oni to starve which caused the two sides to go to war. This is where The Tale of Kirisaki Mountain begins.
During one of the Oni Fire raids a kid named Tsuki (Demon Days Universe version of Danielle Moonstar) gets frustrated and confronts the Oni attacking her village alone. The Oni ends up escaping rather than fighting much to the Tsuki’s confusion.
The next day a mysterious wanderer (Demon Days Universe version of Psylocke but isn’t addressed by name yet) arrives at the village alongside her pet Logan arrive at the village that was raided by he Oni Fire the previous night. The wanderer runs into Tsuki and asks for a place to stay for the day. Tsuki is to preoccupied with getting revenge on the Oni to help. The wanderer offers her services in fighting the Oni Fire.
Later, after listing to the story of the Oni Fire the wanderer questions why an Oni would raid the village.
Before she can get an answer other villagers rush in screaming that the Orochi Great Snake known as Venom is back to feed. Tsuki’s grandmother says they can only turn to Juju (Demon Days Universe version of Jubilee) for help against Venom.
Going to Juju’s place, Juju tells the villagers that she can only use her magic powers to kick Venom out of the village but it is in no way a permanent solution. Juju suggests recruiting the Oni Fire for to help find a way to permanently deal with Venom.
The wanderer offers to talk with the Oni Fire. Juju gives Tsuki some fireworks to buy them time against Venom.
Before leaving the wanderer leaves Logan with Tsuki and reveals her name as being Sai.
In the forest Sai finds Oni Fire, who goes by Hulkmaru (Demon Days Universe version of Hulk). Hulkmaru reveals that they only raided the village to get food for a young Oni Water in their care. Seeing this Sai promises that if Hulkmaru helps fight Venom that she’ll get the villagers to promise to respect the boundaries between the forest and village.
Back at the village the fireworks are used to hold Venom back. The fireworks only work for a short time as Venom shows that it has grown stronger since last it fought Juju.
As Tsuki and Logan try to hold their own Hulkmaru and Sai show up to help fight Venom. Sai tells Tsuki to take Logan and get in position for an opening to shoot Venom on her mark.
Sai and Hulkmaru battle Venom together but can only be on the defensive. Eventually Sai and Hulkmaru provide Tsuki the opening she needs to nail Venom with several firework arrows. When the fireworks are set off Venom ends up leaving the Orochi that was its host. Hulkmaru and Sai then do a tag team move to finish of Venom.
Later the villagers thank Sai and Hulkmaru for their help. The villagers then promise Hulkmaru they will respect the boundaries between their village and the forest.
He next day Sai and Logan (who now has a scar on his right eye from the fight with Venom) get ready to leave the village. Sai reminds Tsuki and the villagers to keep to their promise with Hulkmaru. Tsuki has special thanks for Logan helping her out and asks Sai to visit them again. Sai says “We’ll see…” and takes off with Logan.
In the present day Mariko finishes reading The Tale of Kirisaki Mountain story. Ms. Kuroki (Demon Days Universe version of Black Widow) tells Mariko its time for her to go to sleep. Mariko wishes Ms. Kuroki a good night.
In the outskirts of town, near a grave that has had some trash thrown on it, a mysterious wolf that has Logan’s scar is seen watching Mariko. End of issue.
The Good: Demon Days: X-Men #1 is a fantastic example of how self-contained stories can be told in a whole new Marvel Universe and still feel like it has a deep history to what is going on in the story. Peach Momoko took the full opportunity to craft a new Marvel Universe and reimaging classic X-Men characters in a fun new way.
Framing the entire story in Demon Days: X-Men #1 around a folklore tale worked extremely well. This wasn’t some universe ending tale. It was very much contained to a village and surrounding area. But that did not take away from how important the story felt for the characters involved. That speaks to how well Momoko was able to craft this story being told in this folklore tale framing device.
The Demon Days version of Psylocke, Dani Moonstar, Wolverine, Hulk, Jubilee and Venom all worked well within this folklore setting. Momoko kept enough design familiarities to get across who these characters are for hardcore fans that will notice those details. At the same time, Sai, Tsuki, Logan, Hulkmaru, Juju, and Venom all stood on their own as unique characters. These are characters that weren’t just pulled out of the main Marvel Universe to fit the story. Instead, they were all characters that are part of this world that Momoko created that you become immersed in.
Through all the character work Momoko did a very good job in having Sai and Tsuki balance one another out as characters. Tsuki was the energetic wild card who is done being afraid and wants to take action. She was ready to go at all times. While that made her a fun character for Sai, Logan, and Hulkmaru to play off of what made Tsuki truly stand out was the arc of maturity she had. As things get more serious with the Venom Orochi, Tsuki remains focused on the villages safety and co-operates with Hulkmaru without question. It was subtle storytelling that made Tsuki’s growth over the course of Demon Days: X-Men #1 be a standout.
Tsuki’s energetic character was balanced out well with the calm and collective Sai. As a wandering samurai type character Sai was able to use her status as an outside to get the villagers to better understand how to best deal with Venom. While we do see how badass of a fighter that Sai is during the battle with the Venom Orochi I’m glad we first saw her as a peacekeeper. It helped get her across as more of a vigilante superhero in this era where the folklore tale was taking place.
Sai’s approach to dealing with the conflict that the Venom Orochi gave greater layers to how this world works. We already saw how in this world that the humans and Oni did live in peace for a time but because of humans greed in expanding their territory they created a war between both sides. Furthering on that concept introduced in the opening page of Demon Days: X-Men #1 by showing us how Hulkmaru, a Oni Fire Yokai, only goes on raid to feed a child Oni added so much to this world. It shows that the conflicts going on in this world are more on a need base as Hulkmaru would not commit such actions if it wasn’t for his home in the forest being destroyed. Learning this made you care even more for what is going on in this world.
Tying the folklore tale in Demon Days: X-Men #1 to a present day story that this universe’s version of Mariko was reading was a good way to set the tone. We get the idea that this is more than just a legend but there is a lot of what we learned that is based on what actually happened. Which seaways well into the next one-shot in Demon Days will be starring Mariko.
All of that said the star of the show was Momoko’s artwork. Momoko did a fantastic doing so much storytelling through the artwork alone. You feel even more immersed in the world because of the style of Demon Days is so unique, especially for a Marvel comic book. It really puts you in this world that is based around a folklore tale.
There were many times were Momoko just let her artwork do the talking. The characters and world look so cool that you can tell what is going on in the action the characters are taking without the need of a bunch of dialogue. It kept you focused on what is going in every panel of Demon Days: X-Men #1.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Peach Momoko knocked it out of the park with the story she told in Demon Days: X-Men #1. This comic book did such a fantastic job setting the tone for the rest of this series moving forward. The writing and artwork by Momoko worked perfectly in sync to make you feel immersed in the new Marvel Universe we are presented with. This is a must have comic book for Marvel fans.
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