There is a lot of overlap when it comes to Christianity and comics. Depending on which title you read, you can start to see a lot of God’s truth reflect within the issues. Obviously we see truths like that reflect in Superman, Green Lantern and of course, Spider-Man’s famous truth, “with great power comes great responsibility.” When your new in your faith, there a fire that feels fresh and like you just need to tell everyone about God. Which you absolutely should. That fire is more energic when you’re fresh within your faith. You’re constantly learning new things of God’s word and constantly looking for wanting to learn about Jesus and his word. Consequently, all of that knowledge has to go somewhere – the fire spreads and the fire rises. Yes, I just made a reference to The Dark Knight Rises. Bonus points, if you caught it.
Same can be said about being a comic fan, though. When you’re fresh to the medium, you want to read just about everything you can. I started out as a Batman exclusive reader. Wanting to know and read all of the Dark Knight’s most iconic moments. From Death in the Family to Knightfall to Hush to The Dark Knight Returns to even his earlier days as a detective solving the criminal syndicate. Some many amazing stories and with this curiosity hunger formed to know what else DC Comics had to offer. So I started reading comics from George Perez and his run on Wonder Woman, Superman: Earth One, Birds of Prey, Swamp Thing and more. Here’s the thing about being a new comic reader, at least that I’ve found, it can be overwhelming. You just want to read it and know it all. Comic book medium is so vast and endless, it’s such a daunting task.
Personally, over the last few years, I’ve made a goal to challenge myself with content I normally wouldn’t choose.
In the last year, I’ve read Power Girl, Justice Society of America, The Sandman, Xandau, Justice League Dark and more. This curiosity also brought me to the door of Danny Cassidy. Ol’ Danny might be known to some of you guys as the Blue Devil. Cassidy was a minor player in the DC Universe series, Swamp Thing. You can here my podcast’s review of that show, by clicking here. Honestly, Ian Ziering brought the character to life and did a fantastic job at doing so. Cassidy was personally my favorite part of the series. So, color me curious when it came time to do this month’s column on his first solo series in 1984’s Blue Devil.
This month, we are going to be covering the first 6 issues of the series. Which will include the first large arc and a one-shot issue as well. These books were published in May to November of 1984. He made his debut in Fury of Firestorm #24 before sailing off to his own book that same month. The series focuses on Dan Cassidy, a stuntman extraordinaire, who designs a suit for an upcoming blockbuster appropriately titled “Blue Devil.” Only when an ancient monster, known as Nebiros, is unleashed does Danny’s suit become grafted to his skin. Forever becoming Blue Devil. This entire first arc is Danny’s journey to undo what Nebiros has done, unwillingly turning Danny into a superhero.
Some of the narrative from the writing duo of Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn is a bit askew at times. The first three issues feel more like three individual stories, rather than a cohesive arc. Though with the introduction of Zatanna in the fourth issue, the story brings a proper conclusion to the first major arc for the series. There is a constant underlining thread of Danny trying to reverse what has been done with him and the suit. Though, the execution for that thread is not always well executed. In fact, it feels like background noise for the majority of issues 2 & 3. During those issues, little to nothing is said about Danny’s transformation. Instead, he faces off against Superman villain, Metallo & his henchman, Shockwave. The narrative isn’t bad, it just feels out of order.
While the story is fun, the art matches that tone perfectly. Paris Collins, the artist on the book, is joined by a revolving door of inkers which include Pablo Marcos (Issue #1), Gary Martin (Issues # 2 -5), Ernie Colon & Sal Trapani (both of which did Issue #6). While some of the subject matter within the plot might be a bit dark, the art is a time machine that transports you back to its release. The Blue Devil book ran in the year, 1984. The art has a bright pop to it that creates a fantastic juxtaposition between the art and the storytelling. Collins masterfully creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere for readers. When its’ coupled together with some of Mishkin & Cohn’s writing, it can feel more like a Spider-Man book at times rather than dealing with demons and monsters.
Overall, Blue Devil is a fun throwback to the bright days of the 80s. Before comics got dark thanks to Alan Moore & Frank Miller. Writers Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn craft a fun, fantastical and sometimes out of sync narrative with a stuntman turned reluctant superhero. Presenting three separate adventures with little to no connectivity the series lacks attention until the fourth issue. The fun atmosphere, the cool cameos, and awesome fight sequences do allow for an entertaining read. When it’s brought to life by Paris Collins, expect a colorful visual atmosphere to bring the level of fun even deeper. Blue Devil is DC’s answer to Spider-Man meets Dungeons and Dragons – definitely worth the read.
FINAL SCORE: 3.5 / 5
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