Billy Demon Slayer S2#3: Darkness Rising (2007)

Editor Hayden Fryer
Publisher Siberian Productions
Writer Hayden Fryer
Art and Colours Hayden Fryer
Cover Hayden Fryer, Emma Toia, Tim Pearson
Genre Demonic

Talk us through it

Loren and Blake are selecting CDs down their local shops, Blake is horribly out of touch of course, and goes with the tried and true. An evil moan sounds that regular Billy Demon Slayer readers will recognise immediately and suddenly we have a possessed outbreak threatening the streets of Walksville with eternal damnation, brimstone, hell fire, and Celine Dion tunes. Blake immediately surmises it's an emo convention.

Billy, who we discover is the anti-Christ, is still hanging in the Underworld trying to find out what evil is planned for his hometown. Deadus is proving even less useful than Blake. The Underworld council is concerned about the outbreak, as it's hampering their soul collection business, as things spiral out of control. Billy is sent back up top to deal.

Making things even more dicey is the imminent release of the riders of the apocalypse and the possess being under the thrall of Trenchie, the former demon introduced last issue. And if you think that's sounding bad a certain mist demon is on the verge of waking up and entering the fray.

Billy back on the scene, it's time to rumble kids.


"So since when were you scared of Emos?" - Loren

For something completely different this review I'm going to tackle the artwork before having a look at the script and the ongoing story arcs. Hey I'm an out of control reviewer and I'm not to be messed with kids. Let's strap on some knifes and cut into the dark.

Hayden Fryer pulled a couple of neat tricks in Darkness Rising that I certainly appreciated in a geeky sort of fashion. When Blake declares the emo circus is in town the next panel shows a shambling mass of the possessed passing a store with a prominently displayed "Depressed" sign in the window. Okay shut up right not, puns used to be the highest form of wit according to Vampire Bill over at Bon Temps. I love a good sight gag and that one had me smiling like a teen chick getting preview tickets to the latest Twilight saga. For the sharp eyed and bushy tailed there's also a wink at Jason Paulos' Hairbutt comic. If you don't know that book then you haven't been paying attention in class and are edging towards a detention. There's a bunch of other things to take note of, but half the fun here is discovering them for yourself. Look out for an Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom reference kids.

As we have come to expect from the Billy Demon Slayer comics the artwork in Darkness Rising is from the naive simplistic school of thought. Once again, for the art challenged, that's not a criticism, naive is an art movement that is heavily represented in Western works. Andy Warhol brought the whole thing to the attention of the public back in the 1960s leading to an explosion over in North America of "pop" culture. For our purposes the art is easy to follow, the characters are drawn with enough detail to be recognisable, and nothing is going to take you out of the comic, an inherent danger when Artists get too "arty" for their own good. The panels show a logical progression and reinforce the script development, which is the primary requirement of art in the comic book form for mine.

I've had a couple of people asking me what the quality of the actual comic is in physical terms but can't answer that one. Siberian Productions sent us electronic review copies, which I'm very grateful for, so clearly we have no idea on binding, paper weight, or anything else. At $3.50 an issue find out for yourself, it's not like you are putting the house on the Storm finishing bottom of the NRL ladder or something.

We are now heavily into the second series story arc after a couple of placement issues. A new evil has been unleashed on Walksville, by whom and exactly why are mysteries at the moment, and Billy and his mates are naturally caught right in the middle of things. There's a real feeling of George R. Romero going down here with the possessed standing in for the walking dead. Of course George didn't have the cool mist of evil or an ancient evil waiting in the wings. What's interesting from a script point of view is that the Underworld Council, who we assume are evil incarnate, have no idea about the spreading carnage either. There's a third party in play here, hints are being thrown out, and I would imagine anyone who is a veteran of the first series of Billy Demon Slayer comics might have an inkling of the identity of the antagonist here. On the bright side of the staple, those of us who got late call ups for the game get to have a fun time working out the mystery. Hayden Fryer is dealing out the cards slowly and one gets the feeling there might be an ace or two up the sleeve, excellent stuff.

As mentioned last review I'm playing a bit of catch up here and am gradually getting the good oil on who Billy, our clear central character, is. He is being referred to as a "half breed" and the "anti-Christ" so Billy would appear to have a foot on both sides of the dark divide and is clearly seen as a danger to the nefarious plans being hatched. More as we discover additional details in future reviews of the ongoing saga.

Hayden Fryer is still keeping things firmly in the comedy side of the street with nothing being played too seriously or for keeps. Without too much work Billy Demon Slayer could be serialised for the Sunday comics page of your local newspaper without an overly large number of people complaining. We excuse the Daily Bogan here as the idea would involve a new concept, something the Bogan readership don't want to have anything to do with. Just keep published you're out of date yank stripes, it's not like there's a thriving comic community Down Under or anything. In the wash up we are talking a comic book in Billy Demon Slayer that can safely be shown to kids without damaging their mental development or doing any other harm that the "cotton wool" inspired PC crowd are concerned about.

I've completely missed mentioning in previous reviews a couple of bonus features you get with your Billy Demon Slayer main course. Hayden Fryer apparently wasn't overly up for doing a "Where Are They Now" section, but popular demand forced his hand. Catch up on the fates of minor characters in each issue in a short prose section, an excellent and well thought out addition to your whole experience. And if that's not enough to have you getting a tad way too excited you also get a short additional comic featuring characters from the main comic, this issue we got New Union Laws.

[Editor's note, Yes all very good but what the hell happened to Noel?]

Summary Execution ...

I was going to drop in a quote here about Darkness Rising being a mildly amusing diversion, but then figured I was having more fun than a barrel full of monkeys with the comic hence "mildly" didn't really sum it up for me. Don't you just hate it when you have a good quote and then can't use it? To be honest I had a hoot with Darkness Rising and read it a number of times to get with the groove, I'm now so hip I'm thinking of cosmetic surgery as an antidote. I'm jiving to Hayden Fryer's beat over here and having lots of fun.

Sorry didn't get around to touching bases with Siberian about the availability of the first series of Billy Demon Slayer comics, way too much on my plate last week with movement at the station on painting the exteriors of my place. I solemnly promise to remedy that situation for next week's review.

Okay so don't muck around go check out this comic today, you will not be disappointed when you do by the way. The comic can be found online at the official site, so dig on in there kids. I'm recommending this one to younger readers and the young at heart, knock yourself out.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

  We're got possessed, we have wheels within wheels, and we're having a lot of fun.