Belial awaits the return of his son along with his companions, and Etrigan the Demon, Jason Blood, Xanadu, and Merlin wander across the Hell wastes that now stretch across Death Valley. Numerous demonic creatures lurk in the shadows, and our heroes may not be able to withstand the punishment.
The plot structure of this issue should make it feel like a padded-out waystation before the battle kicks up again within Hell itself. However, Andrew Constant’s ability to play with the characters and insert a decent helping of action keeps what could have been a dull issue from being so.
As always, Etrigan the Demon is a deliciously vile character, always ready to shed blood and wreak torment upon those that surround him. In addition to constantly hurling insults at Merlin and Jason Blood, smaller demons and a giant demon-snake lie in wait to receive the Demon’s wrath.
On top of that, we get some insight into both Etrigan and Jason Blood. We receive a more visceral display of the toll the Demon has taken on Jason. Plus, we learn what the Demon’s connection to Jason Blood has done for his standing in Hell and among his own species. There is some pain in Etrigan, despite all evidence to the contrary. Madame Xanadu actually gets some lines and a share of the spotlight in this issue too.
The one drawback to all this characterization and development is that it is spread like deposits throughout the comic and mostly delivered through text dumps. That does slow down the pacing in spots due to the amount of dialogue to plow through.
Brad Walker’s art mostly delivers in this issue. The Demon gets some sweeping scenes of fire-breathing and tearing through hellish hordes. There are some odd-looking faces put to Jason and Xanadu here and there. However, these are thankfully few. Andrew Hennessy’s inkwork backs up Walker well. Chris Sotomayor’s color art is vibrant and uses reds and oranges to create an intentionally oppressive brightness for flame. The palette is fitting for the depths of Hell, and it looks great.
Demon: Hell is Earth #4 shows skill in character development and using every issue to one’s advantage on the part of Andrew Constant. With more demonic fun to be had and some interiority for our conjoined leads, this issue earns itself a recommendation. Check it out.
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