Seeing as fantasies are low selling choices in the world of comics, Demon Knights was bound to end some time; this being the final volume of the series. But Demon Knights does not go out in a whimper at all. It goes out in a bang of glory of action and team humor, which are some of the big reasons I have enjoyed the series since its very beginning. And even the writer Paul Cornell --who wrote the first 15 issues and left the series (issues 13 through 15 collected here)-- and Robert Venditti took over til the very end, the series still kept it's bold action and team charm. Volume 3 does have its share of stumbles, but for the most part, I think the series went out on a good note.
DEMON KNIGHTS VOL.3: THE GATHERING STORM collects the remaining issues of the series #13 - #23. Since Cornell wrote issues #13 - 15 before leaving, I will do a quick review of that, and then finish up with Venditti's work with issues #16 - #23.
Paul Cornell review:
After the end of volume 2, the Demon Knights are in Hell because of Etrigan the Demon selling out his teammates for favor of Lucifer...or did he? Because the Knights appear to have a plan of their own...as well as Lucifer...AND the Questing Queen! (you know the antagonist from volume 1?), and they all want a piece of Avalon for their own agendas.
Cornell speeds through these last three issues at a breakneck pace, tying up all his plots into a massive showdown over reign of Avalon. The writing is still witty and interesting, as well as being a decent close for Cornells story arc. The only problem is Cornell confuses readers with each of the warring factions having plans within other plans, WITHIN other plans. That part is a bit unnecessary, as well as the ending might come off as anti-climatic. It's not perfect bookend, but it is still pretty good.
Robert Venditti review:
30 years after the end of issue #15 and the knights have gone their own paths. But an undead army of vampires led by Cain is taking over Europe at an incredible rate, to which, the knights must form together again to stop the vampiric horde, even if the outcome means finding the holy item to cleanse all evil: the Holy Grail, it too will be difficult to find.
Venditti does make a 4-issue on the vampires and 4-issues for the search of the Holy Grail. The thing that Venditti doesn't quite have that certain level of wit or charm Cornell has, but he still maintains the heart of the series with fanatical action and proper voices for the characters, which is amazingly in-tact. Jason Blood/Etrigan is still conflicted with each other, Madame Xanadu still keeping Blood and Etrigan in-line, Horsewoman still prefers horses or humans, and Vandal Savage is still the immortal thrill seeker and type of guy who would slit your throat if money was on the line. Additional work goes into the sub characters, which we really did not get much panel time under Cornell. We get much more information on Ystin and his/her subplot on the Grail (which was referenced back in volume 1), Exoritos history with the Amazons, some origins for Horsewoman (and her real name), and Al Jabr...well, he doesn't have eternal youth like everyone else. And more insight with Lucifer and Etrigan, which plays out pretty humorously as a deep-seated rivalry/sense of entertainment for each other. I found I enjoyed reading Lucifer's monologue pages some of the most entertaining pieces in the series.
Most of the art duties are by Bernard Chang, who did some of the last issues in volume 2. He does the remaining issues of Cornell's work (issues #13-15) and the first part of Venditti's story arc (issues #16-19). His art is incredibly clean and detailed and keeping the action and character development in check. Chad Hardin does issues #20 - #22 which are very well done, and Phil Winslade (of Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti's Jonah Hex know) does the final issue #23.
If there are any flaws, the first is the breakage between Cornell and Venditti's work in the same book. It would have been more cohesive if DC put the remaining issues 13-15 into volume 2 and volume 3 is only Venditti's work of issues 16-23. Secondly, the art changes from Chang to Hardin in issue #20 is pretty under done. It looks rushed, because Hardin's artwork with issues 21-22 are amazing in their own right. And Phil Winslade's art is great for the last issue, but I was just getting used to Hardin's art that I would have liked him finish the series. And lastly, Cornell's last three issues are a bit of rush to tie up plot points, including the reference to Stormwatch.
For the most part, DEMON KNIGHTS VOL.3: THE GATHERING STORM still ends on what it did best: it was fun. Even under a new writer, this series was big on action, great characters, tons of magic and fantasy, good artwork, and a fun-loving Vandal Savage (when will we ever see this carnation again? Probably never.) But Cornell's last issue are bit rushed, the clash from Cornell/Venditti is a little odd feeling, and the minor change ups in the art at the end hurt this final outing of the knights. I'll give it a 4 ½ score of 5 stars, but I truly enjoyed this series from the get-go, so I'm rounding up to 5 stars.
If you have enjoyed the series, then finish it off. I hope to see the likes of these characters in some shape or form in the New 52. Farewell, thou Demon Knights.