Slaine: Demon Killer
by Pat Mills, Glenn Fabry, Dermot Power
(Hamlyn, 1996)

Demon Killer continues the saga of proto-Celtic hero Slaine Mac Roth, picking up after The Horned God at the end of Slaine's seven-year reign as High King of Ireland. Preparing to be ritually sacrificed according to tradition, he is instead summoned by the Earth Goddess to travel through time and defend the Britons from Caesar's legions at the side of warrior-queen (and, in this version, witch-priestess) Boudica.

But the Romans are not to be underestimated, especially with Slaine's old foe, the demon Elfric, on their side. The Britons' situation seems desperate, especially after the Romans defile the sacred places and spread slaughter in their wake.

Bloodshed, of course, is plentiful in any Slaine story, and it reddens the pages of Demon Killer from start to end. Ukko, the second-most revolting dwarf, is also there to provide his slant to the tale.

Unfortunately, the story lacks the depth and rich detail that made The Horned God a pinnacle of achievement among fantasy-based graphic novels. It's a rollicking good adventure, yes, and the use of Boudica and her Britons is effectively explained; while they ultimately fail at repelling the forces of Rome from British soil, they do convince the Romans not to invade wild Ireland as well.

Still, the terrible dark forces arrayed against Slaine in The Horned God are much better foils for his aggression than the foppish, unkillable demon who faces him here. Demon Killer is disappointing in comparison -- but, to be honest, I suspect I'd have enjoyed it much more if I'd read it first. The Horned God is a high standard to beat.

I look forward to reading more from the series.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 26 February 2005

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