Christopher Sebela’s Demonic comic series got off to a rocky start, but its second issue evened things out a bit: it took a different direction than the generic cop-turned-serial killer storyline, introducing a police officer knowledgeable about demons like Aeshma attempting to hunt down the main character Scott Graves. In issue #3, Sebela jumps even further into this territory, introducing a seedy organization called the Church of Novo which sounds somewhat like Scientology, except much darker; it turns out that Graves and his wife were raised under Novo, and now he’s out for revenge.
This adds a new layer to the series, one that Demonic has been missing since its opening issue. Sebela’s comic lacked depth and stakes, especially since his demon possession has already cemented his immortality: Aeshma has, at one point, commented that even if Graves dies while committing his murders, she’ll just resurrect him. Demonic has portrayed Graves as a family man, concerned about his wife and child’s lives, but overall the series has failed to give the reader much time to connect with that family. Demonic #3, however, allows Graves some time to hang out with his wife, to connect his work and home life, and with the Church of Novo hanging over both of their heads, it gives the reader an understanding of where Graves is coming from.
It also incorporates that sidestory about the police officer who knows more about demons than most normal people should, because he’s affiliated with Novo. This underlying corruption within the police force is more interesting than simply seeing Graves murder a bunch of random people in his antihero suit – plus, it gives Demonic a direction. Now that Graves has found his calling, these evil people become his sacrifices for Aeshma; apparently, he requires 72 souls to end his possession, although that could be a lie from the demon.
Still, Demonic #3 isn’t without its problems. A subplot about this mysterious church organization requires a lot of exposition, and Sebela delivers it in spades in this issue, some of it awkwardly placed when Graves talks to his passed-out wife. Graves starts a memoir, too, a series of letters describing his affiliation with Novo and highlighting the details of all of his murders; while it gives the reader plenty of information, it’s also a lazy delivery, one that explicitly describes everything we need to know about Novo without actually doing the difficult work to uncover it naturally. In that sense, Demonic #3 reads like a detailed breakdown of the inner workings of Novo.
Still, the exposition creates forward movement for this series, and that’s what I’ve been looking for thus far in Demonic. Now there are stakes, with Graves taking risks because of an inner turmoil driving him. There’s a potential endpoint for the comic. There’s room to define the progress that Graves has made. All of this is a welcome addition to this series, and it’s nice to see Sebela figuring out how to make what was once a fairly generic series break away from the crowd. And artists Niko Walter and Dan Brown continue to do excellent work, especially in the more violent sequences in this issue. Fortunately, readers struggling to find interest in this series will be pleasantly surprised with issue #3.