It’s hard to remember a day when Peach Momoko didn’t dazzle us with her iconic cover art and acclaimed Demon Days series. She is so consistently good at capturing our imaginations in beautiful watercolor it’s as if she’s been here forever. That quality can be forever collected on your bookshelf now that Momoko’s entire run of one-shot stories is collected in a beautiful oversized Treasury Edition from Marvel Comics. Running 8×13 inches, there isn’t a better way to experience Momoko’s incredible world.
Collected here are the five one-shot Demon Days issues that tell one ongoing story. There are also materials from King in Black #4 and Momoko’s story from Elektra: Black, White & Blood #4. Fans of Demon Days will know there are also files on folklore creatures from Japan plus every variant cover reprinted four to a page. There’s also every design sketch variant cover by Momoko along with six pages of sketches with notes. All told, this is a very comprehensive Treasury Edition with far more extras than most.
The basic premise of this work is a remix or reimagining of Marvel characters set in ancient Japan. Even though the opening issue was subtitled “X-Men”, it included characters like Venom that go outside the box, with characters like Jubilee and Psylocke showing up too. As the story unfolds, familiar faces serve as mentors and villains with a young girl named Mariko Yashida as the central character.
At its core, this story is about a reluctant hero with few tools and no idea of her potential. There are powerful characters she must confront — and surely the main villain understands the threat she poses — but she overcomes them because of her steadfast determination. This is a hero’s journey where the hero will likely realize they are a hero, but only by the end of the story.
The book is gorgeously rendered and incredibly pretty. Stepping back and looking at the totality of this book, it’s clear Momoko’s skill is layered. It’s in her framing and artistry that you find yourself daydreaming about these unfamiliar creatures. It’s magical on a scale not unlike a dream, yet somehow rendered on the page.
It can also be quite disturbing. The creatures and perspective are used in ways to create mystery or an unnerving question mark of intent, but there are also some gross-out moments in this issue too. All of these elements add up to a book that makes your own imagination come alive.
It’s not all mystical and magical weirdness, though. If you enjoy fight choreography, especially with unconventional weapons, you’ll enjoy the fight scenes in this book. The heavier focus on action in this issue does mean less plot development, which makes the overall feel of the book even more dreamlike and vague. Some might find that frustrating since it’s hard to gather what is going on here on a deeper level, but also from the perspective of the larger story.
The main story will draw you in, but there’s definitely a lot of joy in seeing a rematch between a version of Hulk and Wolverine from Japanese folklore. It’s not only fun to see Momoko’s reimagining, but how she keeps their identities somewhat relevant within the story.
Apart from the main story, the overall story wraps up well. It ends in the real world, but there’s a fantastical moment that is not to be missed. Seriously, the last three pages offer a magical wonderment that is beautifully rendered and, if we’re lucky, may one day be turned into an anime. It’s impactful, and quite something.
Once you complete the read, it’s fascinating to read about these creatures from Japanese folklore on the page, but also in case files at the back of the book. Since the characters we do know are changed to fit within the story, the book feels entirely new and different. All these elements combined create an interesting and new reading experience.
The dialogue and captions are written by Zack Davisson with lettering by Ariana Maher. Both do well to harness the dreamlike qualities of the story and convey different emotional interpretations at times. The language and lettering can help create a foggy weirdness at one point or certainty of what is to come in another. Maher also uses smaller fonts at key moments to convey the loudness of the words being said, or subtle effects on word balloons like a slight waviness to convey the last words of a dying character. Davisson’s sound effects are also great. Little sounds like an “ssss” or a “thwip” are used here or there to help add layers to the action.
Momoko is one of the leading and best comics artists working today, making this a must-buy for comics aficionados. It’s also a must-buy if you appreciate art, or are interested in Japanese culture. This series of one-shot-style tales perfectly melds Japanese culture with the Marvel universe, maintaining its own identity. In many ways, this isn’t just a comic book, but an experience.
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