Devil, #1 – 4
Story and Art by Torajiro Kishi and Madhouse Studios
Rating: Not Rated
Devil is the result of a collaboration between Dark Horse comics and Madhouse Studios. It’s a comic mini-series created by Japanese creators and a Japanese company for the American market, something that’s not unheard of but is hardly common. It’s something of a throwback to the 90s, featuring a future where mankind is beset by a disease which turns its victims into devils, super powered killers with a taste for a human flesh known as “devils”.
The story focuses on two detectives in Japan who are part of a division that specializes in cases dealing with the “devils”. The Takimoto is your typical, rogue cop action movie cliche. He does things his way, gets the job done and regulations be damned. Migawa is much more by the books and almost feels like a naive rookie, clinging to the idea that devils are simply diseased ridden humans and should be treated as such, despite their tendency to rip people apart. The mini-series sees them involved in the pursuit of a devil named Nishioka with connections to a secret experiment; an early attempt at studying and understanding the virus which ultimately resulted in the creation of a pure sample in human form, a young girl named Mariko. The two must stop the devil from reaching her lest something horrible happen. In amongst the various action scene’s and shots of Nishioka splattering people left and right, there are weird and awkward bits of philosophical pondering tossed in. Characters discuss human civilization and how we’re no longer part of nature, how the introduction of a predator species will destroy it and more. I’m not sure if it’s the translation or simply the quality of the writing, but these bits generally read horribly, feel a bit odd and seem almost like the ramblings of miserable, angsty teens at times.
Continuing on with the trend of stiffness, the artwork is peppered with characters in awkward, stiff looking poses, particularly in the action sequences. The backgrounds are frequently just blocks of color with little else, this is actually a good example of the kind of thing you can get away with in black and white but isn’t really suited for color. In your typical manga you can slap a black background in and the readers mind will fill in the blanks. Maybe it’s outside and they’ll envision a clear blue sky with the various hues that they normally see. Maybe it’s inside and they imagine the color of the walls, feint glow of lamps, etc. In full color though, it’s just two fully colored and detailed figures against a blank white background, or in the case of Devil, against solid blocks of color. It just looks lazy and weird. Admittedly, the entire comic isn’t like that, but there was enough of it that I found it hard to ignore. On the upside, the design for the “devil’s” glowing blue skin with swirling masses of black was rather neat, and I loved the blueish white glowing effect they gave it and Mariko’s hair.
Despite all this, Devil is not a bad read. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a good read either. The are some fun and cool moments in the visuals and the core idea is fun in that crazy 90s way; something that sounds really cool and then you see it and it fails to be as cool as whatever you imagined in your head. In the end Devil was forgettable average.
Devil, Issues #1 – 4 are available now.