Demon Days: X-Men #1 is a tale for the ages. In ancient Japan, the Oni are fighting back against humans for expanding into their territories and taking away the Oni’s food sources. Can humans and Oni, who once coexisted peacefully, find balance again?
Demon Days: X-Men #1
Zack Davisson (Translator), Ariana Maher (Letters), Peach Momoko (Writer and Artist)
March 3, 2021
I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but when I saw Peach Momoko’s gorgeous Demon Days: X-Men #1, I knew I had to read it. Best decision I could have made because I loved this book!
I am a sucker for a good alternate universe story, and Demon Days: X-Men #1 does everything I love in this genre. It features different but recognisable versions of our favourite Marvel characters with an amazing female lead, as well as ancient myths that made me want to grab a book about Japanese mythology asap. Finally, it has some of the most stunning art I have seen in a comic book. This issue was an experience. I am delighted that Momoko will be telling more of this story soon.
What is Demon Days: X-Men about? The book follows Sai, a mysterious samurai on a long journey, who stumbles onto a village in danger. Sai and her wolverine Logan want a place to rest for one night, and in exchange, she is willing to offer her services with her psychic swords. Lucky for her, young Tsuki, who is a bit too enthusiastic to fight, needs Sai’s help. An Oni called Hulkmaru has been terrorising the village, raiding it every other night. Sai, having met many Oni on her journeys, knows that they aren’t malevolent. Don’t bother them, and they’ll leave humans alone, as well.
The village has a bigger problem—the Orochi, Venom, is attacking again. The only sorcerer who can fight Venom, a Jushi named Juju, isn’t doing a great job. It’s up to Sai to make peace with the Oni, while Tsuki, Logan, and Juju keep Venom at bay.
Momoko has been working on this concept for two years and it’s clear she’s put a great deal of thought into this passion project. As I said, Demon Days: X-Men #1 has an amazing story and the way Momoko writes it, the book ties Japanese myths with X-Men characters and powers seamlessly.
While reading this book, I had a madeleine moment—I was transported back to my childhood, sitting on my grandmum’s lap, listening to her read stories from Thakurmar Jhuli. Translated as Grandmother’s Bag, this was a collection of Bengali folk and horror tales featuring gods, and monsters, and the simple acts of humankind that either saved or doomed us all. That’s what Demon Days: X-Men expertly evokes in the reader—not just the a-ha moments of discovering which X-Men characters have been mythologized in the tale, but also that delightful feeling of experiencing a captivating story with innumerable wonders.
The world-building is fantastic, yet simple and organic. You don’t need to research what an Oni, a Jushi, or Orochi is; the characters either share these details via conversation, or the art shows you what you need to know. This book could have drowned in exposition, instead, it’s a surprisingly quick read—you’ll spend more time turning back the pages to swoon over the art.
Speaking of the art, which I am in love with, it is gorgeous and varied. It’s almost hard to describe. The watercolour style is reminiscent of the past, and the panels often look like paintings in a museum but with X-Men as the modern muses. It’s a combination that speaks to Momoko’s artistic abilities. What’s impressive is that the characters are consistent despite the change in style—I was never confused about whom I was following.
Demon Days: X-Men #1 has it all—a great story, the potential to grow into a major universe, a fantastic reimagining of established characters, and stunning art. I’m delighted I picked up this book for review. This issue ends on something of a cliffhanger that’s whet my appetite to read more. Will we see Sai, Logan, and Tsuki again? I get the feeling Demon Days: Mariko #1 might have the answer. I’ll certainly be reading it in June to find out.