PLOT: Spanning several centuries, a race of voracious demons exploit the power of thought to infiltrate the human realm (and others) and gorily devour every pure soul in the universe.
REVIEW: In a historical mash-up of a prequel, DEMONS 3 posits infamous seer Nostradamus, through metaphor, being responsible for as many horrors of the world as some of his fruitful predictions. If INCEPTION taught us anything, it's that an idea is the most resilient parasite. Well, authors Stefan Hutchinson and Barry Keating have a lot of fun with that notion by using a historical framing device to unleash a hellish breed of fire-eyed foes upon the human race. Highlighted by gorgeous artwork from Jeff Zornow, DEMONS 3 is a clever, fast-paced "origination" of Bava and Argento's demonic mythology.
We open in France, summer of 1528. Michel De Nostradame is yet again wracked with malefic visions of impending doom. He seeks counsel in his companion Christian, but words can't combat the horrific warnings, not now, not ever. As we jump back and forth in time around 16th century Europe, Nostradame has grown older and wiser to the wonders of his premonitions. Unfortunately, through trial and error, Michel continues to lose loved ones, who in some form or fashion become shredded to bloody flesh-rags by these interminable ghouls. But why are the demons upon us in the first place? How did they get here? How do we quash this odious curse forever?
I must say, I truly dig the way DEMONS 3 is framed. You needn't look any further than ABE LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES to realize how chic these historical mash-ups have become. In DEMONS 3, Hutchinson and Keating use that narrative device to not only tell a cool story, but to actually make you think about the ramifications Nostradamus' visions have incurred over the centuries, BUTTERFLY EFFECT style. Not that we take the summoning of demons literally in this particular tale, but it still has a historical reference point that makes you stop, think, reconsider, and imagine all the different possibilities...all the harm and good an idea can have. How many reactionary ideals and practices, for the negative, have resulted in the wake of such great visions? I like that angle a great deal on its own, and certainly even more when you consider how wildly disparate it is from DEMONS or DEMONS 2. Out of the box, for sure.
And as much as I enjoyed the writing, it's time to laud Zornow's lush illustration. Vibrantly popping with Marcus Smith's color and detail, I literally counted a half-dozen full-page pieces I'd gladly blow up, frame and slap on my bedroom wall (Jeff, I want that Henrietta shot!) Beautifully disturbing is a way I'd put it, punctuated with an ominous gloom in the pages preceding the extremely graphic. The metaphor is extreme, and so aptly are the visuals; a good balance indeed. No joke though, when one thinks of comics, they may often think of kiddy fare. On the contrary, DEMONS 3 is replete with ultra-violent, hyper-gruesome images...none more notably jarring than a demon's turgid phallus swaying in the fore. Wow! Or how about a newborn's lower half clawed to a gory pulp...entrails dripping to the ground? Shite's gnarly!
In the end, I have little doubt that fans of DEMONS, DEMONS 2 and all they're exorbitant stylings will greet DEMONS 3 with anything but love. It's a novel novelization, as nasty as it is fun to read. Granted, it's loftiness would likely preclude a film adaptation, but that's beside the point. As it is, DEMONS 3 lives as a separate but faithful entity, in alternate universe where themes of space and time reflect how durable a notion, a vision, a premonition can be and how civilization may alter as a result. Weighty in theme, backed up by eye-gouging artwork, I'd encourage either casual comic fans or even passing fans of Bava's movies give it a gander. In fact, the only way to nab yourself a copy is to pick up the new DEMONS/DEMONS 2 steel-pack Blu-ray edition.