Issues #0-15 written by Paul Cornell, issues #16-23 written by Robert Venditti
Although not directly Wildstorm-related, this series features the first Engineer and the first StormWatch, so it thought it was fair to include it here.
Demon Knight tells the story of seven heroes coming together by chance to face unlikely odds… But was it by chance? In reality, everything was orchestrated by Merlin, who saw visions of upcoming threats and realized the world needed a team of protectors. It takes place during the Dark Ages, so most of these “heroes” are violent, if not outright amoral. A couple of them don’t stay in the group for long, due to their villainous nature.
The team is comprised by Jason Blood, who can switch places with the demon Etrigan; Madame Xanadu, youngest sister of Morgaine Le Fay; Vandal Savage, the immortal Cro-Magnon; Shining Knight, a remnant of fallen Camelot; the Horsewoman, a paralytic woman capable of communicating with horses; Al Jabr, a wise man and Engineer; and Exoristos, Amazon from the island of Themyscira.
Merlin receives instructions from the Shadow Lords, four beings from the Island of Avalon who instruct him to create the team. He foresees that Jason Blood will end up killing his lover, Xanadu, if his anger keeps on growing unchecked, so Merlin fuses Jason with the demon Etrigan so that their personalities balance each other. Camelot is destroyed soon after, but Jason and Xanadu had been made immortal so that they could live on until the Demon Knights existed. Camelot falls because of the attack of alien spaceships which are never identified, but could they be the daemonites Merlin was warned against?
Merlin is also present when another reincarnation of Camelot is destroyed, for the city is a repeating concept which is always rebuilt again. This time he saves Sir Ystin, a knight with pure heart, and makes her drink from the Holy Grail so that she becomes immortal too. This taste from the Grail will leave Ystin yearning for more forever after, so she sets on a quest to find the Grail and use it to rebuild Camelot. The Grail has been stolen by the daemonites, so Merlin’s actions end up bringing his heroes against his enemies, as he planned.
The Demon Knights first get together to face the Questing Queen, a tyrant who wants to find the Holy Grail to rule the world. She’s headed for the city of Alba Sarum, destroying any town she finds in her way. The Demon Knights happen to be in her way, so the Queen’s advance is finally stopped. This grants the heroes passage to Alba Sarum, where Merlin was staying. But the daemonites had already made a move against the magician, controlling human bodies to remain in the shadows and murdering Merlin.
Sadly, the Demon Knights have no chance of finding Merlin’s killer, so instead they set out to bring him back to life. It is a dangerous quest in which they visit Avalon, the land of the dead, and after they turn out triumphant Merlin dubs them the first incarnation of StormWatch.
The team meets again 30 years later, when the vampire Cain is making his way across Europe with a horde of vampires; he plans to turn the amazons of Themyscira into his own unstoppable undead army. The Knights begrudgingly get together again and stop Cain. In reward, the Amazons of Themyscira share with them the information they have about the Holy Grail; now the Knights have a location. However, when they visit it they find a nest of Giants who work for the daemonites, hoarding treasures that would help humanity if they were released.
Stealing the Grail enrages all of the Giant people and a war is started. The group is forced to take refuge in Al-Wadi, the city the Engineer has built. In there they hold a last stand against the Giants, ultimately defeating them with help of the Grail. They are a proper team, now. They won’t separate again like they did 30 years ago. Those who try to take the Grail, that is, who try to work against good, now have to learn that the Demon Knights will forever be opposing them.
All in all, this is a fantastic series which plants the seeds for the new Wildstorm universe.
Next: Spotlight on StormWatch