Etrigan the demon gets his own series. Paul Cornell is writing it, so that is in its favor. If anyone can write this as more than just the mystical blather the character has been infused with since his creation, it is Paul Cornell. I like that at least for the beginning of the series they won’t have to worry about modern continuity or what other characters are doing as it all takes place not long after the mythical fall of Camelot. Likely a hundred years or so later.
Etrigan is a complex character and combined with needing to set up a mostly mythical England in which to tell the stories, most of this first issue is just background. We see Merlin combine Etrigan with his apprentice or page or other lackey Jason of Norwitch, soon to be known as Jason Blood. Jason still has the ability to call Etrigan forth, but doesn’t seem to have control over him once he does. One change that I greatly appreciate, though it has been such a part of the character they may bring it back, is that Etrigan is no longer a “rhyming demon”. It will be so nice and so much easier to read if he isn’t constantly in verse. Etrigan seems to fight for good, or at least against Morgan, because Jason’s companion is the magical Xanadu and she is Etrigan’s lover.
They seem to be keeping the character of Madame Xanadu as she would have been at this point in history according to her own recent title, now cancelled. I hope they do, it was a good backstory and she was a powerful non-human in this era. They’re also throwing in some other characters that would have been around then like Vandal Savage, though he’s unlikely to stay allied to either side for long, and The Shining Knight, though he is now a she.
They also add some new characters that are likely to be long term allies like the Shining Knight is likely to be, at least I think they’re new. There’s Al Jabr who seems to be a gadgeteer of sorts, though I’m basing that entirely off his introduction where he states “I bring mechanisms that can make you rich”. There’s also a woman named Exoristos that I’m betting is an exiled Amazon of the era. Finally, there’s an unnamed bowman or bowwoman, woman now that I look at the silhouette more carefully, who is unnamed and unintroduced. She slays several of Morgan’s minions in her appearance, so I’m guessing she’ll be an ally as well.
There’s one other major character introduced here and I find it an odd one. Mordru is Morgan’s Lover/Consort/King. He’s the incredibly powerful wizard that fights the Legion of Superheroes in the 30th century, so I’m not sure what he’s doing in the 7th or 8th century. This might be part of his new origin or he might have gone back in time, you never know with this kind of thing. Even without his presence, the setup has me wanting more, but with it I’ll certainly keep getting the series.
The series has begun with a traditional epic fantasy beginning. Or, if you like, a traditional beginning to a D&D campaign. Most all of our heroes are gathered in an inn for some rest and refreshment and to get the campaign hook. There is a mighty evil on the land and one of its expeditionary forces has made the mistake of smashing into this inn. Now the heroes will fight them together and bond and become the adventuring group.
There’s a catch though, Paul Cornell is writing this. He’s a very capable writer, good at humor, plot, dialogue, characterization, drama, everything you’d want in an epic fantasy comic. He also knows the history of the characters and the DC universe. He’s familiar with the tropes, fantasy and SF. He’s capable of either going with the traditional beginning as I’ve laid it out above or standing it on its ear and making it an enjoyable, engrossing tale either way. I look forward to seeing what he does and reading what stories he has to tell.