Demon Wars has delivered an imaginative follow-up to Peach Momoko’s Demon Days series. What’s made Demon Wars so much fun is how Momoko has melded both Marvel’s Civil War and symbiote crisis with the mythological universe she has created. The latest developments threw a lot into chaos as the characters you would think you’ve sided with aren’t what they seem. That has created a narrative that we don’t know what will happen next or what other Marvel characters will appear in their Demon Days Universe form. Let’s find out with Demon Wars: Down In Flames #1.
Writer and Artist: Peach Momoko
Co-Scripter: Zack Davisson
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Determined to finish what she started Mariko Yashida makes her way back to the Ikai world.
On her way back to Ikai she is stopped by Yamato’s (Demon Days version of Captain America) aura warning her that if she returns the head of Kigandoshi (Demon Days version of Carnage symbiote and Oni King) it will doom both worlds. Sensing something evil in Yamato, Mariko says she believes him.
Mariko returns to Ikai and reunites with Itsuki (Demon Days version of Magik). Itsuki wants to go return Kigandoshi his head but Mariko says she wants to talk to Yamato first before deciding what to do.
Before they can get into a deep argument Aosagi (Demon Days version of Phoenix) arrives. Knowing how troublesome of a foe they are up against Itsuki trusts Mariko to go make her decision while she holds off Aosagi.
Mariko finds Yamato, Nekomata (Demon Days version of Black Panther), and Hayabusa (Demon Days version of Falcon) with the captured Kigandoshi. Kigandoshi immediately goes after Mariko.
Elsewhere Bake-Yoroi (Demon Days version of Iron Man) uses fire sprites to reform and go help Mariko.
At the same time, Itsuki and Aosagi have an intense personal fight. When Itsuki catches Aosagi by the neck Hitotsume-Kozo (Demon Days version of Cyclops) suddenly unleashes a cry that sends a powerful stream of water across the land.
Hitotsume-Kozo cry hits Kigandoshi. This gives Bake-Yoroi time to reunite with Mariko.
Mariko goes to talk with Yamato but when Yamato touches her Mariko suddenly crumbles from the Yokai spirit inside Yamato.
As Bake-Yoroi takes on Nekomata and Hayabusa to help Mariko suddenly someone named Momiji appears. End of issue.
The way Peach Momoko has utilized Japanese folklore and other mythology has always been the strength of the Demon Days/Demon Wars world. That’s what made Demon Wars: Down In Flames #1 the first miss with how the folklore aspect of the universe does not connect well with the overall story developments.
The opening was the first sign that this issue wouldn’t find a groove. Rather than having a creative way for Mariko Yashida to get out of the mysterious world between worlds she found herself in at the end of Shield Of Truth it was all rushed along. Momoko tried to add some emotion to it by having the forms of Kuroki and Mariko’s mother appear but they just didn’t hit the way intended. Instead, they just led to a much simpler solution of Mariko going through a portal that just came off as uncreative and didn’t put over Mariko as someone who can overcome whatever she goes up against.
Mariko running into a form of Yamato was much more effective. This did give more motivation for Mariko to not solve things just through fighting. Hinting that there is more going on was definitely needed as Mariko has been in the dark as to everything going on. Showing that she is finally turning the corner of realizing something is off with Yamato and other things going on was a smart call.
But while that was well done we got a lot of rushing along in the plot with Aosagi’s appearance coming across as more of a distraction than a meaningful character making her presence known. Aosagi simply was here to stop Mariko and Itsuki’s disagreement from intensifying and give Itsuki something to do in this issue. It’s too bad because there was potential there as shown by how Aosagi and Itsuki have a shared history. Though that shared history had too much tell rather than show since Mariko needed to still be the focus.
Similarly impacted was how everything around Kigandoshi just came across as rushed. Momoko has done such a wonderful job merging so many folklore elements into crafting this universe that it all came to a crashing halt here. Maybe there were one too many characters to juggle because even as Mariko confronted Yamato we just got more teases rather than any closer to answers to the greater plot around Kigandoshi.
That’s where the return of Bake-Yoroi and the appearance of the mysterious Momiji is a miss. With Bake-Yoroi he just does not add anything to the story other than giving us some action. Then there is Momiji who is just another character to add more questions when there haven’t been any answers to the story or character arcs yet. Momiji is just another plot device to add to the mix just so we get a hook ending and then be presented as a character that you are immediately intrigued by.
All of that said Momoko continues to knock it out of the part with her artwork. Momoko’s designs for Aosagi and Momiji do have a standout presence that further shows how every character’s personality shines through the way they are drawn and colored. Similarly, Itsuki unleashing her true power during the fight with Aosagi made for a nice change of pace for the action as we continue to see how differently each character in this series fights.
Demon Wars: Down In Flames #1 is the first issue in the Demon Wars Saga that the story doesn’t completely hit. The artwork is still at the high level you expect from Peach Momoko. But the way Down In Flames handles the developments in the Shield Of Justice chapter does not as well as past issues. Hopefully, the new character reveal leads to much better developments in the next chapter of the Demon Wars Saga.
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10