Writer Kevin Gunstone is never one to aim small when it comes to world building. After the incredibly complex Neanderthal sci-fi of Future Primitive he has aimed even bigger for his new series, Planet of Daemons, which stretches across time, space and the afterlife to create a truly devilish and demonic read.
Publisher: Amigo Comic
Writer: Kevin Gunstone
Artist: Paul Moore (Art) Stefan Mrkonjic (Colours)
Price: $3.99 from Amigo Comics
Amos Deathridge is the guardian of the planet of Qliphoth, a kind of intergalactic afterworld populated with roaming daemons and lost souls. The story is told in two parts, with one strand seeing Amos on a quest to find a succubus queen and work out why the Lord of War is so interested in her. While the second explores how Amos got to Qliphoth in the first place and looks at the inevitable connections between these two threads.
What makes Planet of Daemons stand out from your average indie/space/afterlife-fare is that Gunstone’s hero is a 17th century witchfinder from Salem, rather than a modern day Joe. It’s a unique twist on this kind of tale and prevents it from being another fish-out-of-water/last-human-on-an-alien-planet kind of story. Instead gives it an emotional depth and gravitas, as well as a bit of a Hammer horror vibe (you expect Amos to sound like a booming Vincent Price as he takes on the daemons) which allows you to forgive some of the more hokey dialogue and confusing character names.
The story is a bit of a slow build, and even after two issues we’re not entirely sure where it’s going. However one of its strengths is that Gunstone builds his world and his characters side by side and there is such attention to detail that you can’t help but get drawn along. Unlike Gunstone’s other book Future Primitive, where the plot got lost in the concept and exposition, Planet of Daemons has a relatively simple and straight forward quest story, which is fleshed out with the flashbacks of Amos past, and means it’s easier to follow. Plus with the mystery connection of who the succubus queen is, and why she knows Amos to be revealed along the way we’re intrigued to see how it resolves.
Planet of Daemon’s vintage vibe is helped by the superb visuals of Paul Moore and colourist Stefan Mrkonjic. Moore’s line work is very classic and feels like a mix between David Lloyd and Sean Philips. It’s quite raw in a few places, but his figure work is so strong and his character design (especially the Succubus queen) is excellent and it makes for a very unfussy yet accomplised piece of work, which we’re sure will lead on to great things for him. His line work is brought to life by Stefans colours which instead of being flash digital colours, are muted and muddy, which makes it feel even more vintage and like it should be printed on newsprint and hidden in a long box gathering dust alongside some forgotten classics. Although this may sound like a backward compliment, this is meant to be a real positive as it feels very much like and early Dark Horse or Vertigo title, or better yet a strip from an old issue of Warrior or classic 2000 AD, and is a great antidote to the stylised slickness of most current indie books.
It would also be easy to make a lazy comparison to Sandman with Planet of Daemons, and if you like Gaiman’s otherworldly world building and his unorthodox beasts with complex and impenetrable names then you will love this. But unlike other Gaiman wannabes Planet of Daemons manages to get that balance of smart story telling and unique ideas just right, (especially when supported by the excellent art) and means that neither one of these outweigh the others.