Mariko will not take sides in the yokai until she better understands what is going on. Despite his good intentions, is there something evil hidden in Yamato? Find out in Demon Wars: Down in Flames #1 from Marvel Comics!
DEMON WARS: DOWN IN FLAMES #1
Writer: Peach Momoko
Artist: Peach Momoko
Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
Editor: Lindsey Cohick
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 1, 2023
Previously in Demon Wars: Mariko Yashida is torn between two worlds – the human world, and the yokai dimension. The yokai dimension has its own troubles as two factions are building toward a war. The conflict could have consequences not only for the yokai but also for the human world. And now Mariko finds herself caught in the middle!
DETERMINED TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT
Demon Wars: Down in Flames #1 continues the Demon Wars saga, and helpful opens with a brief summary of what is going on. Not only is Mariko being forced to choose a side in the war the Ikai, or spirit world, but she has learned she is the descendant of Kigandoshi, the Oni King. The issue opens with Mariko drawing a katana from the ground. She is urged to return home, but she feels she must finish what she has started. The door to the Ikai is open, and she steps through.
In transit, she sees Yamato, one of the faction leaders. He tells her she is not wanted, but also that if she returns the head of Kigandoshi, it will doom the human world. Even as he speaks, she can sense something else in him, something evil.
She lands in the Ikai before her friends there. Itsuki, who forged her new katana, is eager to proceed with their plan to return Kigandoshi’s head. But Mariko wants to talk to Yamato first. Her decision could have major consequences and she wants to know as much as she can about what is going on. Yamato says he wants to protect humans and she believes him, but he also talked about humans tainting the yokai. Mariko wonders if she can communicate with Kigandoshi somehow.
Suddenly, a bird-like spirit, Aosagi, arrives. Itsuki urges Oami to take Mariko and go; she has a score to settle with this newcomer. They once were friends, but Itsuki’s father killed Aosagi’s father, among other things. As they fight, Itsuki gets angrier and angrier until she bursts into flames. Aosagi’s water magic counters that, but her companion with a cyclops eye starts to tear up. The tear shoots out like a force beam.
Mariko approaches Yamato and requests to speak with him. The large, red monster with him, Teoi-Hebi, attacks! Bake-Yoroi hears this and realizes that something has happened to Kigandoshi. He arrives as the cyclops force beam strikes Teoi-Hebi, who begins to merge back with Kigandoshi.
Things quiet down enough that Mariko can explain her intent to try to communicate with Kigandoshi. Yamato grabs her wrist, and she hears voices in her head telling her she knows nothing of the ways of yokai. Mariko recognizes that he is not Yamato!
A TERRIFIC REIMAGINING
One of the cool things about the art of Demon Wars: Down in Flames #1 is that even though the depictions are strongly based on Japanese stylings for yokai, we can make connections between the characters we see here and their counterparts in the human world. The Iron Samurai in his red and gold, for example, can be seen as a reinterpretation of Iron Man. Yamato’s outfit is in red, white, and blue and features a pattern of concentric circles which are reminiscent of Captain America’s shield. I liked that I did not immediately figure this out, but did not start seeing it until most of the way through the issue, and it made me enjoy it even more.
Overall, the art is amazing. The color palette is rich and somewhat muted, rendered in a way that looks like watercolor. The sequence where Mariko travels to Ikai helps set the mood for the entire issue. She encounters Yamato, and his color theme of red, white, and blue merges into and becomes the background. Circles lose their shapes; some of them become a series of dots. There is an organic flow to it that is mystical and delightful.
BOTTOM LINE: DEMONS, SPIRITS, AND MAGIC ABOUND
Even if you have not read the issues leading up to Demon Wars: Down in flames #1, this is a creative and enjoyable book. I love seeing the Marvel Universe in a land of Oni and yokai and trying to identify characters through that lens.
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Demon Wars: Down in Flames #1
Mariko tries to get to the root of the conflict between Yamato and Bake-Yoroi.
This is my most anticipated comic this year. Demon Days was the best book Marvel has published in more than decade, maybe more and I will be picking this one up as well as soon as its available in trade. Peach Momoko’s style is something that’s never seen in a big two comic, she’s probably the best illustrator today and its not even close.