Demon Days is one of my favorite comic books that Marvel has published in the last few years. As a series of one-shots Peach Momoko crafted a new Marvel Universe that merged Marvel’s superheroes with legendary yokai and other mythical legends. It was such a unique take both narratively and artistically. So when I heard that Momoko is going to be doing a follow-up to Demon Days I immediately made sure to put all the one-shots for Demon Wars on my pull list as soon as they were available. I’m very excited to see where Momoko takes the Marvel Demon Universe next. Let’s find that out now with Demon Wars: The Iron Samurai.
Story & Art: Peach Momoko
Co-Script: Zack Davisson
Designer: Jay Bowen
Mariko Yashida has returned to her normal daily life after learning she is a descendant of an Oni. As she lives her normal teenage life Mariko sees various spirits reaching out to her only to disappear.
One night, unable to sleep Mariko decides to chase after the spirits and runs into a monk who summons a gate in front of her. Mariko steps through the gate and enters the yokai world wearing a yukata she wasn’t wearing before.
Mariko is greeted by a young girl named Oami, who calls her Princess Mariko, who welcomes Mariko to Ikai.
Oami then takes Mariko into a hut where the Iron Samurai Bake-Yoroi challenges Mariko to a fight. Mariko uses all her training under Kuroki to force Bake-Yoroi to use his mystical bow and arrow. Bake-Yoroi shot is stopped by a tengu named Hayabusa.
Hayabusa is quick to see from Mariko’s eyes that she is descendant of Kigandoshi. With that the fighting stops and everyone gathers to eat and talk.
Ibo-Gami reveals that Kigandoshi was a powerful Yokai who has been locked up with his head cut off to weaken him. Ibo-Gami goes on to say that Mariko using armor made of Kigandoshi’s head has caused him to reawaken and start causing earthquakes as his power is returning.
Ibo-Gami believes that if Mariko helps them give Kigandoshi his head he will calm down. Hayabusa reveals that the Yamato Clan are against this idea and if the Ikai go through with this it will end the peace between Yokai and humans. Hayabusa tells Mariko the decision of which side she chooses his her and she must be prepared for the consequences.
Not long after Mariko wakes up on a train in her world and wonders if everything was a dream.
As she walks back home someone sweeping outside a temple tells Mariko he’ll see her soon and disappears. End of issue.
There are times as soon as you open a comic book and see the first page you already know its special. That is the exact feeling Peach Momoko as soon as you open Demon Wars: The Iron Samurai.
It’s in the silence created by that opening as you get the feeling there is something big that’s about to happen. That is thanks to the simple sound effects of “Badum” to indicate an earthquake that you know your entering something special. From this opening to the visual of the Marvel Demon Universe version of Carnage as a Yokai that the sense of an awakening happening is such a cool way to start of the Demon Wars series of one-shots.
Going from this to quickly catching us up with where Mariko Yashida is at is all wonderfully captured. The inner monologue Momoko and Zack Davisson really get us inside how Mariko is feeling now after all that she experienced during Demon Days. The sense of boredom is nailed in the way all of the inner monologue is written that makes you even more invested in what is going on with Mariko.
All of that inner monologue perfectly compliments the color palette chosen whenever Mariko is in her world. The use of red, black, and white puts over how boring Mariko sees the world. The only time things feel interesting to Mariko is when she sees the spirits when they appear around her. The use of color just elevates everything to another level as there is a clear distinction given to the human and yokai worlds.
That all makes the moment when Mariko in her insomnia giving into following the spirits and entering the yokai world such a great transition. As soon as Mariko steps into the yokai world the entire color palette opens up as Mariko is brought to life with a lot of different colors to match the yokai world she enters.
Going from there to Mariko meeting and being challenged to a fight by Bake-Yoroi The Iron Samurai was a great way to get Mariko back into this entire world. The fight is quick but puts over Mariko’s skill that reminds the reader she is not the same person when Demon Days started.
This also helps to introduce us to how there are clearly two major sides in this setting as Bake-Yoroi and Hayabusa have such clashing personalities. There personalities are used well as an extension of the decision that Ibo-Gami presents to Mariko to make. On one end she can help the Ikai that Bake-Yoroi and Ibo-Gami are on and calm her ancestor down. On the other hand she can make help Hayabusa’s Yamato Clan to ensure this does not happen. It’s a big decision that clearly sets the stage for a Civil War event that is an unavoidable outcome to Mariko’s decision.
The importance of the decision is all elevated by the fantastic designs by Momoko and Jay Bowen. You really get a sense of the yokai world’s unique nature not only through the character decisions but how the setting looks. The watercolor look enhances everything going on as every character pops against the way the different shades of brown for the background are used. Every character from Bake-Yoroi to Hayabusa are so well designed that incorporates key elements from their main Marvel Universe counterparts. It makes figuring out who from the Earth-616 an added fun element to the entire story.
Demon Wars: The Iron Samurai is a beautiful start to the latest series of one-shots in the Marvel Universe Peach Momoko has created. Taking everything established in Demon Days to create an adaption of the Civil War event is all handled with great care that gets you invested in the characters and world. If you are a Marvel fan I highly recommend you do yourself the favor of picking up this comic book up. It is a can’t miss series.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10