Comics Features

REVIEW: The Devil You Know Issues 1-4

Written by Robert Porter

End of summer blues getting you down? How ’bout a nice, heart warming tale of revenge to perk you up? That’s right folks, today we will be taking a look at the first four issues of writer/creator Frank Mula‘s The Devil You Know! Jam-packed with sweet, bloody carnage, The Devil You Know will literally plunge you into the depths of Hell itself. Don’t worry, it will be fun. Just put the kids to bed first, or if you are a kid, turn off your computer right now because The Devil You Know is for adults only! So slip into your favorite swim trunks, slap on a pair of dark sunglasses and slather on some UV repellant; it’s about to get hot as hell… in… Hell. Ehem. This review will contain minor spoilers.

Meet Greydon Cross, a morally ambiguous corporate executive who returns home one night to find his wife and children murdered by none other than Satan himself! Before he can react, Cross is fatally shot by Satan (yes, with a gun), at which point he drifts into purgatory. There, Cross meets a particularly badass looking version of God (complete with trench coat) who explains that due to Cross’s moral… “fluidity,” he is in a unique position to take revenge on Satan and all of Hell; but there’s a catch: if Cross manages to defeat the Prince of Darkness, he will be forced to lead the denizens of Hell for all eternity, effectively becoming the new “Satan.”

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Cross, being characteristically warm and understanding.

It’s difficult to compare the plot of The Devil You Know to… well, anything really. The idea of the hero becoming the villain is something we’ve seen in literature and film, but I cannot remember a story where the hero actually forges a path towards Satan-hood. This is one of the aspects of The Devil You Know that really stands out, and it will be interesting to see where Mula takes the story in the future. Will Cross destroy the Devil and become the ruler of Hell; and if so, what then?

The artwork in The Devil You Know is a collaborative effort between Kellik (pencils), Nunun Nurjannah (ink), and Victoria Pittman, who handles coloring and letters. For a comic that takes place mainly in the seven layers of Hell, there is a lot of variety with regards to the locales. During the course of the story, Cross travels to different realms of Hell, and the look of some of these realms will surprise you. In these travels, we meet an interesting and varied cast of characters ranging from demons and monsters, to the tortured souls of humans who have landed themselves a permanent vacation to the tropical pit of lovely Hades. So aesthetically speaking, The Devil You Know has a lot to offer and manages to stay visually interesting throughout the first four issues. I particularly enjoy the action scenes, as the creative team pulled no punches when it comes to glorious violence and mayhem. Cross also seems to “transform” as he eventually loses the Armani suit and begins to look more and more barbaric. Going forward,  it will be fun to see the visual changes to the character as time goes on.

One of the most entertaining things about The Devil You Know is that most of the characters aren’t exactly “heroic” in the traditional sense. Take Greydon Cross for example, who admits to having no remorse at firing fellow employees despite a harsh economic climate, and then visits a strip joint (heh) to reward himself for being “a good corporate soldier” before returning home to his wife and children. To be fair though, Cross does offer his most likely expensive leather gloves to a homeless man and donates a few dollars to one of those Santa Claus-bell-ringing-people, so he is not devoid of all emotion.

When Satan murders Cross and his family, he tells Cross that it is “business” which alludes to the possibility that Cross is being punished for something. Whether it was his ice-cold disposition when firing underlings, his frequent hedonistic behavior, or something that has yet to be revealed is unknown. The point is, in The Devil You Know the roles of “hero” and “villain” are not conventionally defined. Having said that, I did not find it bothersome whatsoever that I was rooting for Cross during his battles with Hell spawn.

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“I don’t have time to take revenge right now!”

I’ve always been a proponent of the creator-owned, independent side of comics, and The Devil You Know is a prime example of why. I can recommend this book to just about anyone, except those who are offended by Hell or Satan, or God wearing a trench coat, or violence, or nudity (tee hee), or strippers; to those, I can highly, highly recommend it. But in all seriousness, The Devil You Know is most certainly not for kids so… you know, just watch out that they don’t read it or anything. Issue one can be bought here at publisher AA88’s website, where you can also check out some of the other cool books they’ve got in the works (warning: ALL of them seem to be highly offensive and insane, which is awwwwlright).

Will you be reading The Devil You Know? If you already have, what did you think? Was it all the little devil on your shoulder imagined it to be and more? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!

About the author

Robert Porter