Saturday, October 15, 2016

Demon, Volume 1

Jason Shiga is a comics creator whose works I seek out. They are interesting in a cerebral way, as he often includes puzzles in his stories. I thought Bookhunter, his hard-boiled librarian yarn (who thought that would be a thing?), and the peril/escape story Fleep were both great pieces of action and intrigue. I was very much taken with the choose-your-own adventure tale Meanwhile, in both book and app form, and his sort-or-love-story Empire State was very well done. What is pretty funny to me is that the star of those last two books, Jimmy Yee, a sweet, naive character, also stars in Demon, but in a very different vein.

This graphic novel is the tale of a man trying to kill himself in various ways. He checks into a motel, writes a note and then hangs himself, only to awake in the same motel minutes later. I am not going to spoil what is going on, but after multiple further attempts at suicide, he figures out what is happening and then the story really goes into some depraved territory. Jimmy does not really care about his life, or the lives of others it becomes clear, and a spree of violence ensues. Of course the authorities take great interest in these events, resulting in a clever cat and mouse game. Jimmy is wily and tough to trap, they find.
I found this book to be completely compelling, well-plotted, and enjoyable, even as it revels in its depravity. Jimmy is a surprisingly dark but hilarious figure, and I found myself rooting for him in sort of the same way I rooted for Light in Deathnote. He's despicable, but his resourcefulness is quite admirable.

All of the reviews I have read have lauded this book for its smart, humorous, and dark features. Rob Clough praised various elements of the book: "There are clever action setpieces. There are mysteries within mysteries. There’s squirm humor that gets its charge from violating social norms and expectations." Greg McElhatton wrote, "Don’t get fooled by the simple nature of his figures; Shiga really knows what he’s doing here and he’s a genuine talent." Lauren Davis opined, "While Demon has a much more morbid—not to mention violent—tone than Shiga's recent work, it still has that pleasantly mind-bending quality that makes Bookhunter and Meanwhile so much fun."

Demon, Volume 1 was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here. This series was first published as a webcomic, but now only the first chapter is available online. The entire story will be published in what will be a 4-volume series.

It contains a lot of violence, some profanity, and some sexual content, so I advise it for mature readers.

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