Billy Demon Slayer S2#2: Return of Deadus (2006)

Editor Hayden Fryer
Publisher Siberian Productions
Writer Hayden Fryer
Art and Colours Hayden Fryer
Cover Hayden Fryer, Alesha Gosling, Guy Dernee
Genre Demonic

Talk us through it

Scythe and Shadow, two Underworld denizens, were hoping to pick up a body as a result of hamster rampages, unfortunately for the dynamic duo Billy was on hand to mop things up. Billy also shows them how to swing a cricket bat when the need arises.

Noel still has the Roos bounding around in the top paddock, but apparently isn't going to let a small thing like insanity stop his pursuit of unholy science. Cue the hunchback servants and cackling. Meanwhile Billy finds his way might not be the best option when it comes to modelling clay, hello Principal's office. Rather than being saved by the bell Billy is saved by being dragged into the Underworld where Deadus awaits him. Apparently there's an old acquaintance Billy needs to meet.

Back in the real world Billy visits some dude who clearly had one of those deals where he gave up demon status in order to live in the big house with no doubt the trophy wife in return for something or other unexplained. There's something brewing behind the scenes and Billy best find out what before the streets of Walksville become the Underworld's private hunting preserve.

Ready to walk like an Egyptian a dead thing from the Underworld?


"Is it really you? Or are you some kind of evil doppelganger from hell!" - Blake

Drop your linen and straight your grinning folks we're now in demon central and Billy is up to his arse in underworld machinations. Seems Billy's old nemesis Deadus is back, no idea haven't read the first series of comics, just run with the concept friends and neighbours. We also find out Billy is at least a demon himself if not the anti-christ! You have to say hell's pre-school day care center is probably not doing a decent job considering Billy is swinging a bat for the forces of goodness. This probably comes as no surprise for veterans of the first comic series but I'm flying blind here, and we are talking a whole anti-christ thing going down!

We're clearly in the days following events depicted in the hamster of doom comic, Noel is doing his impersonation of being totally off the planet, Blake is still being held up for ridicule for consuming Noel's "spinach" experiment, and dark beings lurk in the shadows of the local high school. Billy is naturally taking this all in stride and is handing out some justice of his own. Interestingly, from a narrative flow point of view, Hayden Fryer drops us into the action post Hamster Troubles but doesn't actually inform us how much time has elapsed between the previous comic and the start of this one. I'm picking not much water has flowed under the bridge as Billy appears to be still cleaning up following Noel's impersonation of Frankenstein, though whether or not any discernable time has passed is probably moot in terms of where the second series is headed. Sorry I'm slightly anal in needing to know all things about a series, is there such a thing as a Billy Demon Slayer geek?

Return of Deadus works as a sort of bridging instalment, sure we have a story arc developing but we are also being introduced to a number of characters from the first series. I'm not yet up to speed with all things Billy Demon Slayer so can't comment on where individual characters fit in the overall Universe Hayden Fryer is presenting us with here. Regardless the comic leaves the reader with the impression that the Underworld may not be fully aware of the plans that are afoot, Noel is clearly deranged and going to be problematic, and we have still seen no sign of a certain blade trapped demon. For first time readers it can be slightly confusing, for example Deadus is clearly a major figure from the previous series, but if you stick with it things become somewhat clearer. Of course I've got no idea about ex-demons, pacts made, and promises to keep. Should make for interesting reading as things progress and it definitely is keeping yours truly interested and entertained.

Slight detour off the beaten track here kids, continue to the next paragraph for more of the actual review. What is the requirement for an Author to keep his/her readership informed of events from previous episodes? The team were split on this one. Don't you hate it when you pick up a season of something on DVD and before each episode you get the "previously on ...". Usually in a movie sequel some device will be used to get new viewers up to speed with what happened prior to current events, e.g. the camp fire scene in Friday the 13th Part 3, what we have dubbed the "Nancy's Diary"* effect. Actually that's probably less likely to happen now what with DVD, blu-ray, and torrents. My personal belief is that if you have missed things leading up to what you are currently reading or viewing then cry me a river, man up and do your own catching up without wasting my valuable drinking time. Back to the slaughter house blues.

The one aspect of the comic that I wasn't getting is Billy's "return" from the Underworld. He doesn't appear to have an evil twin, or underworld spawned clone, yet since the Demon Slayer is still down stairs one assumes the "Billy" in the second half of the comic isn't the real deal. Unfortunately upstairs Billy acts the exact same as downstairs Billy, which threw some confusion my way. This may or may not get resolved in the next comic in the series. Can Billy be in two places at once, is there an evil version about, or am I mixing up the timelines?

Hayden Fryer leaves us with a couple of plot arcs to contemplate on the tree of episodic woes. But what's a good series without some underlying questions needing answering somewhere down the line. Exactly who is going to get someone's demon status back, and what's going down in Walksville during Billy's absence down in Hades or whatever the Underworld is called in this Universe. Would have been cool if we had a three headed dog, but I wasn't the interior decorator here.

Similarly to Hamster Troubles there's an overriding sense of everything being slightly tongue in cheek rather than the reader facing a hay ride to the centre of the dark genre. Besides the ever mentally challenged Blake, there's Billy's constant one liners, Scythe and Shadow (a sort of unholy Siamese twin concept) camping things up, and Deadus looking like he might want a future on Hey Hey It's Saturday. In case you are wondering Deadus isn't exactly the funniest person on the planet so will fit right in with the crew on Hey Hey. I can't say I was laughing out loud at any stage but the comic did amuse me on occasion. And where else are you going to get Underworld demons spouting Shakespeare!

The same primitive outline artwork used in the previous two Billy Demon Slayer comics I've reviewed is in use again through Return of Deadus. I'm actually happy enough that Hayden Fryer is not jumping all over the Underworld with changes in style as that way leads to chaos. What is apparent is the comic is easy to read, characters are drawn in enough detail to be recognisable, and the panels follow a logical narrative progression. There are some fun touches in the comic however that keeps things interesting. On about page nine check out the artwork outside the Principal's office. Overall I was getting down with what I was seeing without getting too many bruises on my knees. Hey besides we're all here for the actual story, right?

Summary Execution ...

Return of Deadus continues the often times amusing adventures of Billy and certainly kept me entertained, interested, and ready to enjoy the next comic in the series. There strangely seems to be two or three separate stories being told, but there isn't a hint of things being overly complex, so no foul there. I had a good time reading the comic and was grooving to where the story was headed.

Okay I've already had one person wondering if the first series is available. At time of writing I have no idea to be honest, will follow up and find out for those interested. Check back next review in this series.

If you haven't dialled into the whole Billy thing by now then I'm not too sure what to say to get you onboard. The storyline is interesting, the art doesn't require you to overly concentrate, and there's enough comedy to keep you smiling through to the end panel. There's not a lot more I can say folks. Recommended comic for kids of all ages, drop the serious view of the world and simply enjoy some quality time with yourself. Okay that sounded wrong, take time out to read a comic that doesn't take itself seriously.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  The horror/comedy continues as things start to come to the boil nicely story wise.

* - "Nancy's Diary" - In A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge we find out about what happened in the previous movie via Nancy's diary, found in Jessie's closet, right next to the probe box. Actually the diary isn't the only thing that needs to come out of the closet in that movie.