In The Devil You Know, Greydon Cross is an average Joe. A tough boss who isn’t afraid to make the difficult decisions, but a committed family man who gives to the homeless at Christmas. So when he and his family are murdered by a mysterious stranger, things take an unexpected turn as he wakes up in limbo and is given the offer of a lifetime by God himself.
Publisher: AA88 Press
Writer: Frank Mula
Artist: Kelik Iskander and Nunun Nurjannah
Price: £0.69 for issue #1-2, £1.49 for issue #3 from ComiXology
How far would you go to avenge the murder of your and your family? In The Devil You Know Greydon Cross wakes up in limbo after his family are killed by a mysterious stranger and is given the ultimate choice by God himself. It turns out Greydon is half angel and half demon, so God offers him the choice between going to heaven, to hell, or to get revenge on his family’s killer, who it turns out was the Devil – but only if he takes his place on the throne of hell. Greydon takes God up on his deal and heads to hell to kill the demon who murdered his family and get his revenge!
Making his way through the seven levels, he kills some demons, crosses paths with a fearsome dragon, (who he appears to have an affinity with) and rescues some slaves before killing yet more demons. On his journey he begins to find allies to help him on his mission as well as learning more about his unique powers and skills.
The Devil You Know aspires to be a mix of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and Garth Ennis’ Preacher, with a dose of Heavy Metal style fantasy thrown in for good measure. Writer Frank Mula has set out an ambitious, if slightly convoluted premise for the book, which seems far-fetched at first. However, once you get past the clunky exposition of the first issue, it evolves into a pretty decent fantasy quest book with dragons, cyclops and demon armies.
The morals in The Devil You Know are not as front and centre as they could be with Mula using the eternal battle for heaven and hell as a back story for Greydon’s adventuring rather than getting bogged down in a philosophical or metaphysical debate on the nature of life, death and religion which is a definite plus.
Unfortunately Greydon himself is a fairly vanilla main character who does little to stand out from the crowd. He is shown to be both a good and bad man pre-death, by laying off a family man at work and then donating to a homeless Santa. However compared to someone like Preacher’s Jesse Custer (who is also part angel, part demon), he lacks a certain charisma and edge. Is he a rogue with a heart of gold or a hero with dark heart, we aren’t sure. As the story begins to develop his motives becomes a bit more fleshed out as he rescues slaves and hacks down demons galore, so it will be interesting to see how he develops in future issues.
Visually, artists Kelik Iskander and Nunun Nurjannah give the book a solid if slightly generic ‘indie’ feel, mixing manga and modern US comic book styles, without ever giving the book a unique look and feel. The ambition is there visually, with some unconventional layouts and panel structures, while the character design of the demons feel suitably devilish. But overall it lacks a sophistication or originality to help it really stand out. Once we get into the afterlife the quality raises up a notch, especially with the arrival of the dragon and cyclops Frango, however with this book aimed at an adult audience there is a slight reliance of cheap thrills like blood and nudity, which is neither necessary or over the top and gratuitous (as in books like Preacher) and so it leaves the whole thing feeling quite average.
“An ambitious attempt at telling a story that encompasses the eternal battle between heaven and hell. However, it lacks the sophistication and polish needed to make this kind of story stand out against some potent opposition. All this means the Devil You Know ends up languishing in comic book limbo.”
Author: Alex Thomas
Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.