HARRIET TUBMAN: DEMON SLAYER #1 | Writer: David Crownson | Artist: Courtland Ellis | Release Date: April 13th, 2017 | Price $2.99
The wait is over. After the announcement of Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer a few months ago, issue #1 is finally releasing tomorrow! But with an advance read of the book, I’m going to save you the trouble of making a tough decision, and tell you what you need to do- Buy it! David Crownson and Courtland Ellis have delivered exactly what fans have been waiting for in this 29 page, 1860s epic, and you won’t be disappointed!
The story follows the Edgefield’s, a black family in 1860 attempting to escape from their slave masters on Wallace Plantation. In the first few pages, Crownson reveals, Ceasar, Venus, and Catherine’s rich, lovable personalities. We are quickly able to gather a sense of their individualities, and the while different, they all carry a common trait: Vigilance. We discover this as soon as they cross paths with the local slave patrols who they find out aren’t exactly human after they unload a hailstorm of bullets into them. Of course, as the title of the book suggests, Harriet Tubman arrives as their unlikely savior.
A few things I pick up quickly about David’s writing style is that he isn’t afraid to put full throttle on personalities. As I mentioned about the Edgefield’s we get full, well rounded characters. We get determination, pride, humor, and astonishment all in a few pages. When the plantation patrol arrives, they too get robust characterization as written with unabashed dialogue. While the book is set in 1860, and the speech reflects that, we don’t get ditch drug self-esteems, and head bowing acquiescence from the running slaves. While the theme is dark, the Edgefield family is a strong light in that darkness.
Once the action starts in this issue, it doesn’t let up. We aren’t even allowed to be bored, and Ellis’ art keeps us wanting more. The Edgefield’s, the plantation patrol, and Harriet Tubman herself are displayed in constant action that keeps readers turning the pages. This reminds me something of a new age Blaster Knuckle, except instead of a black man killing white supremacist demons, it’s Harriet Tubman, and she looks amazing.
When we take a look at the cover of Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer #1 we can see Harriet with two katanas in front of her, and in the reflection of the katanas, hordes of red eyed demons. This creates an excellent resonance with the title. Futhermore, I can’t help but admire the detail in her features. It’s one thing to draw a woman holding swords, but it’s something entirely different to draw a black woman with accurately drawn features, holding swords. From the bandana to the lips, this is an excellent portrayal of a young Harriet.
On the pages, Ellis exercises his skill in drawing expressive characters to match Crownson’s writing, and the result is astonishing. The entire issue is a treat to look at from the action shots to the shaded trees in the wood’s backdrop. Each panel captures the emotion and conflict of the scene, and every single depiction of Harriet herself evokes feelings similar to that Superman would when he arrives to save the innocent. It’s epic.
If I have any complaints they might be with a few lines of dialogue and how its broken up, or perhaps not broken up. There are small (if at all recognizable) moments where dialogue is blocked up in a way that breaks up the flow of reading. This could do with lettering or dialogue in general, but it’s hard to pinpoint.
Also, there are a few dialogue vs. panel shots that don’t seem to flow as well as they could have with placement, and again this slightly throws the flow of reading off, but none of these things actually take away from the story. When it comes to the story itself, we could use more. Issue 1 is a lot of action, and this is drawing, but we can use more plot to go with the great characters. This is something that will likely be resolved in issue #2. In either case, this opening is enough to keep us reading.
As badass as the idea of Harriet Tubman slaying demons sounds, I promise that it’s 10 times better to actually see it happening on page. She’s an empowering sight to behold. A black woman slaying the white supremacist demons that would have her chained, is something that everyone should want to see (unless you yourself are of course, a white supremacist). With that being said, this is a necessity! You need this book in your collection! I implore you all to purchase it day one! I give issue 1 a solid 4 out of 5.
Edit: You can now purchase Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer #1 here!
Also, check out the interview I did with David a few months ago here!