Billy Demon Slayer: Prologue (2005)

Editor Hayden Fryer
Publisher Siberian Productions
Writer Hayden Fryer
Art and Colours Hayden Fryer
Genre Fantasy

Talk us through it

In days of yore, okay not defined think pre-empire earth, warrior Marduk tools up and leaves his village in order to take down one of the Pantheon who is intent on enslaving the world for his own evil purposes. We later learn the evil one is Mummu who has this whole fog of evil thing happening for him.

Marduk must climb the highest mountain, venture through valleys enthralled to Mummu and confront the evil one in his own domain. Along the way Anu and Ki, early prototype gods I guess, must be freed, and Marduk must realise the power invested in his sword blades.

Can our local Conan overcome the force of evil arrayed against him and save mankind?


"Even in the knowledge that the blades won't hold Mummu forever" - Marduk

There's a certain amount of coolness to being an online Reviewer that really does compensate for the lack of earning potential, the long hours, and the piles of material needing a look at that never seem to diminish in size. Firstly there's only about sixty or so of us doing it worldwide, extremely hard sector to break into folks, and secondly you on occasion get sent free stuff to check out. I was actually quite chuffed to be sent a year's worth of Billy Demon Slayer comics, a book I was unaware of previously, till I realised I would have to actually sit down, read them carefully, and then write up reviews on each issue. Damn getting this free stuff! Considering there are eight issues in the year, including the prologue, that's something like 10,000 words to compose given the review length ScaryMinds aims for! Bloody hell, best get started then before it becomes overwhelming.

[Editor's Note: Someone forgot to read the fine print, there's a little something about an Article covering the entire series, muhahahaha!!!!]

There are only twelve pages to the Prologue issue, which is about right considering all we really need is some mythos, some indication of where things might go, and a hint at the Writing style in use. Purists might also want an early introduction to the actual artwork, but in the realms of the dark genre story is everything, the actual art is secondary. To draw a parallel with the small screen, the Prologue here is acting like a Pilot to a new television series, except in this case we are journeying back in time rather than focusing on current events. Guess a better comparison would be to one of those horror movies where they show some major event in the past, then roll the opening credits, before finally informing us it's the present time. The remake of The Amityville Horror immediately springs to mind.

Hayden Fryer's story and script are pretty much tropes of the high fantasy genre, hey how much can you do with a limiting twelve pages, but I believe put in place all the information you are going to need for the next seven issues of the comic. Cosmic forces are no doubt going to be in alignment against the titular Billy and they all start right here, right now. Marduk, a sort of Conan like barbarian hero recognisable to any student of mythology sets out on his quest to stop the forces of evil ensnaring the world. The same quest can be seen in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or any number of other fantasy tales. Against insurmountable odds the hero, or group of heroes, must face and defeat an evil to avoid some calamity to their world. Well hello Grendel and is that The Eye of The World peeking at us. This does not mean that Hayden Fryer isn't being original here, he categorically is, more that high fantasy for all it's trappings is as stylised as a Mills and Boons romance novel.

There are a number of ideas being introduced that you are clearly going to have to keep in the back of your mind somewhere as no doubt they will inform later issues. Sorry haven't read ahead to check this, I'm reviewing as the page opens with an open mind rather than rushing ahead to see how it might all pan out. Marduk has these cool swords that he uses to not only cut his way through various possessed persons but that he also uses to absorb the essence of the "deep", a sort of mesmerising mist used by the demon Mummu as both a defence and an enslavement device. There are twin large snakes of the Anaconda type who would appear to operate as sort of elemental Gods, you know the real primitive type that people used to pray too before they got all sophisticated and made up even more complex personas for their deities, and of course Mummu is somehow enslaved by Marduk's blades, which is a pretty nifty idea in itself. Okay so it shouldn't be overly taxing to keep everything straight at this stage, but don't come crying to me if you get lost in a mist and start turning all zombie on us. The short form here is pay attention friends and neighbours.

Right think that's about all you need to know plot wise. It's pretty straight forward, get's us underway without wasting any time, and conveys enough in the way of bangs for your buck to drag you into the Billy Demon Slayer world. The horror elements while not dominating, possession and demons might make that statement seem strange, are not that far away from the high fantasy story you'll be reading.

Art wise everything is rendered in greys, blacks, and whites. We're talking a pretty mythical start to the series so the colours in use are entirely appropriate to the subject matter. Hayden Fryer surprises here with a number of panels that almost seem to have been drawn in 3D, of course they aren't, it's a perception thing brought about by Fryer's inherent control of his foreground and background elements. Another aspect that should be applauded is the Artist's use of detail for foreground characters and a minimalistic draw for background elements. Your focus is always directed where it should be, which doesn't allow for intrinsically unimportant elements to become dominant. There's a story being told here and Hayden Fryer's ink work is focused solely on getting the plot across visually.

I guess I should mention that some readers may not like Hayden Fryer's style with the pencils here; it's certainly not going to be confused with the sort of heavy definition colour work coming out of some of the New York publishers. There's a minimalist, almost primitive approach being taken that will certainly appeal to readers more grounded in the avante garde underground comic movements than the razzel dazzle majors.

Summary Execution ...

This one came out of the blue for yours truly, so I sort of approached things with a relaxed optimism. Thankfully Hayden Fryer delivered on my optimistic outlook, I was dragged into the story and held by the elements being presented, and I'm really looking forward to digging into the rest of the comics making up the series. That's three comic series I will be keeping you up to date with folks, seems there's movement at the graphic station.

Drop your linen and start your grinning folks, you can either check the comic out online in serialised form or charge right in with a purchase. Okay so the official site can be found right here. You can purchase the individual comics at the insane price of $3.50 per issue and $5.00 for the final double issue or go full hog with a $25 investment in the entire seven book series, click through. Or if saving your pennies then follow the online serialisation here. Yes I hate choice as well but you have to applaud Siberian Productions for putting us in touch with our inner Demon Slayer.

Considering you can check the comic out without laying down the hard earns, and you are currently reading the review, a recommendation is probably not going to be needed. Check it out online, buy a few issues, and knock yourself out kids. I'm certainly up for the next issue which I'm going to start reading right about .... now!

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  Excellent introduction to what could be a rollicking ride, stay tuned folks we're hitting Hayden Fryer's groove train here.