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Inside Look: Demon Wars: The Demon Awakens #3

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Last week’s Demon Wars: The Demon Awakens #3 concludes Book One of Devil’s Due’s series of adaptations based on R.A. Salvatore’s Demon Wars franchise. Writer Andrew Dabb talks about the book in this Inside Look.

The solicitation for the issue reads:

The adaptation of the first DEMONWARS novel concludes! The survivors of the terror sweeping the land have gathered together to form a guerilla army to stand against the encroaching darkness… but are they enough to stem the tide? The war comes down to gentle Avelyn facing demon dactyl alone – how can one lone monk hope to save the world entire?!

Like most comics these days, THE DEMON AWAKENS was very much written for the trade paperback (coming to fine bookstores near you in July), so rather than thinking of this as the third issue, I tend to think of it more as the third act in a much larger story.  Why does that matter?  Because at the beginning of any third act, be it in a movie, television show, or novel, pretty much everything that can go wrong has gone wrong.  And that’s definitely what we’re dealing with here.

As this issue opens, the demon dactyl’s army of bloodthirsty goblins, giants, and powries (evil, seafaring dwarves) is on the march toward the complacent, defenseless kingdom of Corona, slaughtering anyone in its path.  Standing against the army, is a ragtag group lead by the ranger Elbryan, Pony, an ex-solider, and Brother Avelyn Desbris, a skilled, if terribly insecure, magic user.  It’s up to them to stop the infernal force at any cost, or watch their world reduced to ash.

The fun thing about this issue is going from the story’s bleakest point (the beginning of act 3) to its hopeful (though not necessarily happy) ending.  I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk a little bit about how I did that script-wise.

PAGE 3

Click to enlargeA big part of THE DEMON AWAKENS is watching Elbryan grow from a tough, stubborn kid into a hero, and his actions on this page are a big step in that process.  Not because of what he does, but because of what he doesn’t do.  Confronted with the dactyl’s army burning and pillaging a town, Elbryan uses his brain rather than his bow.  Another, more immature hero, might rush in, but Elbryan knows right away that the battle is lost and that joining now would be suicide. 

He also knows that he can help the survivors of the fight in other ways, while at the same time (hopefully) protecting villagers in nearby towns—the dactyl’s next targets.  It’s a classic example of failing to win the battle, but preparing to win the war.  And the ability to do that is what makes Elbryan more than just a fighter, it makes him a leader. 

The burning of End-‘o-the-World also marks probably the darkest point in our story.  The demon’s forces are on a rampage with no one to stop them.  Of course, that’s about to change.

PAGE 11

Click to enlargeFrom the ashes of defeat, an army is born.  This page is devoted to Elbryan convincing refugees from the northern towns to band together and fight the dactyl.  He doesn’t tell them they can beat the demon’s army, that would be a lie, but they can slow the dark legion’s march.  And that may be enough to allow the defenders of the southern kingdom of Honce-the-Bear to march north and join the battle.

Once again, this scene marks a major turning point for Elbryan—shifting him into a leader of men—and also our story.  From here on out, the people of Corona will be taking the fight to the dactyl, rather than running from it.  For the first time, we see light at the end of a dark, bleak tunnel.

PAGE 21

Click to enlargeThis page marks the halfway point (more or less) of our issue, and another major turning point.  For the last 10 or so pages, Elbryan and Pony have been leading their ragtag force to victory after victory against the dactyl’s forces…only to learn that it’s all for naught.  Using a magical scrying device, Avelyn has discovered that the demon has more troops, hundreds of thousands more, enough to overwhelm any army that might stand against them.  Their only chance to save Corona is to strike at the demon directly, in the hopes that, once he’s gone, the goblins, giants and powries (natural enemies) will turn on each other. 

Avelyn is the major driving force behind this decision, and just as we’ve watched Elbryan evolve into a hero, Avelyn has changed a great deal in the course of our story as well.  Always talented with the mystical gemstones from which magic is drawn in the world of Corona; Avelyn has spent his entire life fighting against crippling insecurity.  He’s seen (and been party to) murder and other horrors, events which drove him from his beloved monastery and into a miserable life of wandering and drowning his sorrows with alcohol. 

It was only discovering Pony, and then Elbryan, that gave Avelyn some sense of purpose and now, on this page, we see just how much he’s changed.  Avelyn’s gone from being a man who doubted everything about himself, to one that’s now confident in his place in this world—and his purpose. 

The first half of this issue is really Elbryan’s, but the last half is Avelyn’s, for good reason, as you’ll see.

PAGE 40

Click to enlargeI said the last half of this issue is Avelyn’s, and this page pretty much shows why that is.  Trapped into doing battle alone with the dactyl, and horribly overmatched, it falls to Avelyn to make the supreme sacrifice to save Corona.  He dies, so that millions of others may live.

The amethyst he breaks in panel 5 has an interesting history as well.  It killed one of Avelyn’s friends when it fell to earth during a meteor shower, and he’s been carrying it ever since.  In the novel, R.A. Salvatore goes into great detail about how Avelyn cared for the stone, he literally imbued it with fragments of his own being as he prayed and meditated over the amethyst in order to understand its power.  So, in a metaphorical sense, Avelyn is really breaking his own soul here to defeat the dactyl.  Unfortunately, due to some space limitations, I wasn’t able to spend quite as much time on that aspect as I would have liked to.  Still, I think the scope of Avelyn’s sacrifice does come through here, and that’s what really matters.

PAGE 44

Click to enlargeWe started this issue in darkness, and it ends with hope.  Avelyn is dead, but so is the dactyl, leaving Pony and Elbryan to ride south—back to the world which has been saved...for now.  Still, there’s obviously more to come, good and bad.

THE DEMON AWAKENS is just the first part in a much larger story; there are 6 more Demon Wars novels available (THE DEMON SPIRIT, THE DEMON APOSTLE, MORTALIS, ASCENDANCE, TRANCENDENCE, and IMMORTALIS) following Elbryan, Pony and their children through a generations long battle against evil.  For while the demon is gone, his influence and corruption remains upon Corona.  And while fighting an invading force is one thing, fighting rot from within is quite another. 

But that’s a story for another time.  For now, thanks for reading and I hope this little write-up has offered you some more insight into THE DEMON AWAKENS comic book adaptation.

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