Here’s another one to file under the “Why did it take so long for this to get a collected edition?” category. For years, Garth Ennis’ run on “The Demon” stood as the only long-form comics work from the creator (in America, at least) that had yet to be collected. It’s kind of surprising considering that his run on that title with artist John McCrea served as a precursor to their longer and more successful run on “Hitman.” In fact, Tommy Monaghan’s first appearance is re-printed here and he has a fairly prominent role in the title arc. Yet this is Etrigan’s show as he’s recruited by Remiel and Duma -- the angels who were sent to run Hell in “Sandman” -- to round up demons who have escaped and send them back where they belong. This is a solid setup for the series which has the title character taking on all sorts of demon-associated evildoers including bikers, a ganglord and his entourage, and Nazis.
As it goes, none of this is bad at all yet it’s not so great that I wish I had been able to read it sooner. Wait. Scratch that last bit -- if it had been reprinted when “Hitman” was being published I’d have probably been more entertained. Mainly due to the fact that Ennis’ style felt fresher back then and the over-the-top violence and comedy on display here would’ve been novel. Instead, there’s the distinct feeling of “been there, done that” to most of the action here. Though, if anyone has wondered why a writer so fond of war stories like Ennis hasn’t done a story featuring the Haunted Tank before, you’ll be glad to know that’s because he did it here. It’s the one featuring the demonic Nazis. Still, Etrigan is a fun, anarchic presence in all the stories while McCrea’s demented art really fits the bill here. This is a collection best enjoyed by Ennis completists (like me), though it’s likely they’ll think that the writer’s introduction -- where he explains his background with the character, the series, and how he made the title’s editor feel dirty -- is really the most entertaining part of the whole collection.