The DCnU Take 2: Paul Cornell's DEMON KNIGHTS


When DC announced the 52 new comics that would launch in September, fans were surprised to see a few genres that didn't exactly fit the superhero label.

Among those is Demon Knights, a fantasy/sword & sorcery by writer Paul Cornell and artist Diogenes Neves. While Cornell's story takes place in the same world that's currently occupied by superheroes, it's long before the capes showed up.

Starring the Demon Etrigan, who despite being from hell aligns with forces for good, the comic is set in Medieval times and is aimed at new readers.

"It's an epic that anybody can join at the ground floor," Cornell told Newsarama the first time we spoke. "You need no knowledge of these characters, of the DC Universe, of Medieval anything or anything else to enjoy #1, and that's going to be our policy for the start of every arc as well. It's really a jumping-in comic. If you like this sort of thing, then you will like this."

Cornell, who's also writing the new Stormwatch comic for DC's relaunch, is well-known for crafting stories that are a bit outside the norm, from his Captain Britain and the MI-13 title at Marvel to his recent Lex Luthor-dominated run on Action Comics, which just ended this week.

Now he returns to the unusual with Demon Knights, which begins September 14th. Last time we talked to Cornell about the new comic's line-up, he revealed very little beyond the words "Medieval" and "Etrigan."

But he did reveal that besides Etrigan, the comic also features Vandal Savage, an immortal who's been around since the days of cavemen.

Cornell has since revealed more line-up for the comic during convention appearances, including: Horsewoman, an archer who can ride horses but cannot walk; Shining Knight, a young sword-carrying hero whose true identity (and gender) is masked behind armor; Madame Xanadu, a mystic with a mysterious background; and Al Jabr, a Medieval playboy inventor.

Now, as we continue our DCnU Take 2 series, Cornell fills in a few more blanks for Newsarama.

Newsarama: Is there anything you couldn't talk about or detail before (when we first talked) that you can tell readers now?

Paul Cornell: Our last cast member is a powerful woman from a mysterious island, who we call 'Ex' for short. She's one of many of our characters with secrets. We start in Camelot, in a flashback, but the story proper begins hundreds of years later, when the world is not so fair.

  Nrama: Now that you've seen the reaction from fans to the news about your comic, what are the top three things you want to clarify about it?

Cornell: It's set post-Camelot, not at Camelot. The characters don't see themselves as superheroes; they're wanderers, brought together by chance. Etrigan will only be rhyming sometimes, such as at the end of scenes. Most asked question: it's Grant [Morrison]'s Shining Knight [from Seven Soldiers], but with a few new angles to her. I mean him.

Nrama: Now that you're further into writing the comic, how would you describe the direction your title is taking?


Cornell: We're also creating mythology here. As the Magnificent Seven stand off develops, we'll start to learn about our characters' back-stories, and how they relate to the history of the DCU. Some sneaky flash-forwards to future events here.

Nrama: What character(s) in your comic do you expect to become beloved by fans? And why?

Cornell: Not up to me, and I love them all equally, but I hope the Horsewoman reaches out to the people I'm writing her for, and impresses with how hard she is. And I hope you take the same delight in Vandal Savage I do. If I had a point of view character, I'd say Xanadu. Who's very practical. And of course it's Etrigan's book, so he's at the heart of everything.

Nrama: Most important thing you want readers to remember about your comic?

Cornell: They live in a very harsh world, and they'll all have to make hard choices. I want you to fall in love with them, and experience the hurt of real drama when they hurt. No fluffiness, and I don't want anyone complaining when his or her favorite character goes through something shocking. That's what loving characters is about, not what should be avoided.

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