By: Paul Cornell (story), Bernard Chang (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)

The Story: Isn’t it the worst feeling, waking up one day and realizing you’re young?

The Review: So we’ve come to the end of Cornell’s run on this title, and many more’s the pity, since it feels very much like he’s only scratched the surface of what he wanted to do with this particular set of characters.  It wasn’t even that long ago that they were first referred to by their collective identity as the Demon Knights, and here it seems they’re ready to never be identified as such ever again.

Of course, we know there’s no real danger of a permanent split, what with Robert Vendetti taking over for the indefinite future starting next month.  More than that, the strings of fate are wrapped tightly around the Knights, and despite their resistance, they’ll have no choice but to respond when the next crisis calls.  Horsewoman calls them fools for even attempting to thwart what’s been determined:

“To be offered hope—a destiny—and deny it immediately.  If you are still stupid enough to think you should be apart—then it is indeed the doom of humans—that they forget.”

Haunting words from the enigmatic lady, and probably her most important contribution to this series since she brought reinforcements from Alba Sarum in the first arc.  To the very end, she and Al Jabr remain distant supporting characters with no real personal storylines you ever got invested in—unless you count Jabr’s helpless grappling with magic, a conflict that never saw much development and which received almost no focus until the last minute in this issue.

That brief scene quickly gets swept away by the overwhelming amount of action in Avalon.  As if the forces of Lucifer, the Questing Queen, and the sacred realm’s own Silent Knights weren’t enough, Cornell throws in King Arthur and his special ops for good measure.  Frankly, any time you have the Pendragon in there is a good issue for me.  Who else can pull off those grandiose speeches?  “The shadows that are contained here do not rest, Grail-defiler.  They plan!”

Cornell is clearly in a hurry to wrap up as much of his pet storylines as he can, and while he does manage to give each just enough page-time to reach its climax, you get a distinct feeling of being short-changed some of the details.  Too many of us have long predicted the connection between Merlin and Adam (of Stormwatch fame), and the big reveal does little more than confirm our suspicions.  Nor can you get all that invested in the tiff between Xanadu, Jason, and Etrigan; it’s not as if Cornell ever succeeded in convincing you that Xan had even the slightest sincere affection for the Demon, nor he for her.  As for Exoristos and the terrible gift Lucifer inflicted upon her, it’s been apparent for a while what the significance of that little item would be.

I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I really would’ve liked to have seen Diógenes Neves work over this title one last time before Cornell’s run ended.  Chang is clearly a giant in his own right, but his elegant figures lack the playfulness and minute detail Neves brought.  I feel that absence most during the battle scenes, which are full of activity, but also rather monotonous, easy to fade into the background, where Neves would have given each and every single one of those warriors, no matter how expendable, something distinctive to do.  Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant-looking issue, and Maiolo gives it all a slick, smooth finish.

Conclusion: Cornell manages to clear the slate pretty clean for the next guy, although many of his plot threads get cut short for it.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – So…I’m to assume Ystin and Ex are a thing now?  Good for them to give the relationship a shot, gender complications and all.

– Whatever happened to Adam’s magic after his Merlin phase?  I never saw him use them when I still read Stormwatch.

– If Arthur established the Demon Knights as the de facto first Stormwatch at the behest of Adam, who do you suppose the later Shadow Cabinet (who disposed of Adam as leader in Stormwatch #5) are?