Killing Demons
By Peter Siegel and Brent White
Published by Engine Press

I have a great deal of fondness for the stylish and wonky horror comics produced by Charlton Comics in the 1970s. They were weird and mannered and felt like they were being imported in from another dimension -- Killing Demons feels a lot like that, but with much better writing and artwork than Charlton ever managed.

Joshua Brand is a demon killer whose has the ability to see these entities while most people cannot, and who is raised into his vocation after his family is wiped out by these creatures. This is something of a common theme lately, and it's been seen in comics such as Mortal Souls and Route 666, but Siegel's script has a terse, unique edge to it that combines with White's creepy black and white artwork to give the work a fresh and compelling feel.

Brand is approached by police detective Sarah Bentley to help in the investigation of a murder -- one depicted in a particularly grisly and convincing manner. While the nature of the demons could be more sharply defined (and may be, if there are more stories about Brand -- which I hope there are), the vile work of their human agent (a clever workaround of Brand's abilities that shows some thought went into the rules of the story) is bound to give chills to the spines of many readers. Siegel discusses his love of a certain style of horror movie in a terrific couple of text pieces, and certain scenes aptly demonstrate the influence those films had on his storytelling.

White's art is really striking. This is my first exposure to his work, and I found it intimate and engaging. His backgrounds are particularly strong in both indoor and outdoor scenes; his facial work has some of the distance of some eastern European cartoonists but it remains both appealing and strong. The toning applied to the black and white artwork is stunning -- you'll forget this isn't in colour within a few pages.

There's definitely room for more stories to be told about these characters at the close of the graphic novel, and I hope more are in the works. Very nice design and production, a first-rate horror story and a couple of value-added text pieces, squarebound, for the bargain price of $8.95. It's extremely unusual, and most welcome. Grade: 4/5

-- Alan David Doane

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