Demon Days: Blood Feud #1 Review: A Dreamlike Reimagining Reaches an Abrupt End

Peach Momoko has made a name for herself as a cover artist, but Marvel's Demon Days offered this "Stormbreaker" the opportunity to show her storytelling abilities. No one can fault her ambition. Demon Days is an attempt to reimagine the Marvel Universe through the lens of Japanese mythology and folklore, casting many of its extraordinary beings as yokai, spirits with supernatural powers that come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. For all the ambition of the pitch, the Demon Days story—thus far consisting of one prologue set in the distant past and the four-part "The Yashida Saga"—has been a beautifully rendered but narratively straightforward affair, taking on the style of a fairytale crossing over into reality. "The Yashida Saga" ends true to form, with gorgeous artwork and a fable-like tone, but an ambition to expand the Demon Days universe further keeps the ending from being entirely satisfying.

Demon Days: Blood Feud begins with protagonist Mariko Yashida staring down Ogin, the sister that, until recently, she had no idea existed. Previous issues of the series revealed that the two sisters followed different paths after their mother's death. Mariko remembered nothing of her past, including her yokai heritage, and grew up assimilated into human culture. Ogin grew up among yokai, drinking their blood to gain more strength, nursing a grudge against the sister she wrongly believed killed their mother. Years of Ogin's preparation and manipulation have led to these two girls standing across from each other, now in full recollection of their pasts, and Momoko plays up their differing histories in their designs, with Mariko's dark hair contrasted against Ogin's paleness.

As expected, Momoko's signature style is on display here, and it's no less stunning than ever before. Here flowing linework is enhanced by watercolor hues. She also focuses on natural beauty, often leaving extra room in panels to allow the landscape to have a more significant presence and backgrounding tightly paneled layouts with a full page of tress or other greenery. 

The sisters' confrontation is exciting due to its complexities. Mariko knows that Ogin based her quest for revenge on a misconception. As such, she's not interested in slaying her sister but waking Ogin from this rage-fueled state, turning the conflict into an emotional duel and a physical one.

The back-and-forth between the two reveals a conversation, a struggle, about identity. Ogin feels left behind, left to fend for herself on Kirisaki Mountain inhabited by yokai. Mariko expresses her pain at having been taken from that same life, raised elsewhere, and denied the whole truth of who she is.

That sense of unmoored identity carries into the way the story ends. Ogin returns to Kirisaki Mountain. After expunging her hatred toward her human-raised sister, her focus is now on helping others in her yokai community (everyone seems very chill about Ogin being fond of drinking yokai blood up until recently).

Meanwhile, Mariko comes full circle, awakening in her grandmother's house and rejoining human society, but with full knowledge of the past. She attempts to resume her "normal" life, but knowing what she's lost sticks with her, making everything around her seem that much more mundane.

Momoko emphasizes a specific line from Mariko's grandmother towards the issue's end. "Everyone is where they're supposed to be," she remarks in a half-page exterior panel with no other text. It's clear that Momoko wants this line to carry weight, but how is unclear, partly because, despite being the end of "The Yashida Saga," the issue reveals that more Demon Days are on the way later this year. However, it doesn't say whether the story will continue with Mariko at its center. Thus, it's hard to know whether this is "the end." Does grandmother's line frame "The Yashida Saga" as the story of two wayward sisters finding their places in life? Or is this the beginning of Mariko breaking free from the life in which she woke up after discovering that the one she saw in her dreams was true?

That all undercuts what's an otherwise a stellar story. Momoko's artistic abilities were already well known. Now she's proven capable of great imagination, remixing the Marvel mythology through another cultural prism, and crafting a light, enjoyable tale with subtle yet weighty themes. It's a shame that looking ahead kept this finale from being entirely satisfying, but there's plenty of good reasons to be excited about another Demon Days' chapter.

Published by Marvel Comics

On March 23, 2022

Written by Peach Momoko

Art by Peach Momoko

Colors by Peach Momoko

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Letters by Ariana Maher

Cover by Peach Momoko