I’ve seen a lot of the Devil recently. He’s popped up in Holier Than Thou and I’ve just finished watching him represented in the TV version of Preacher. And here he is again, in The Devil in Disguise, a short graphic novel by Matt Garvey and Robert Ahmad.
It’s the same old story with a new twist. The Devil feels hard done by after a few thousand years being stuck in Hell and decides to return to Earth, in an attempt to prove to God that he can do some good. To this end, he possesses the body of a regular human and gives him unearthly superpowers, for the purposes of saving people and performing good deeds.
The set up is fine but the book is perhaps a little too short to progress the concept far enough. A super-villain of sorts shows up and then it’s all over. There’s some great internal dialogue between the Devil and the man he’s possessing, who remains conscious and coherent throughout, but it loses this charm when it inevitably makes way for the action.
The art is bold, with a classic monochromatic style, shaded with orange. A few elements are then spot coloured green, with striking effect. This, along with the art style, gives the book a retro, noirish, Darwyn Cooke feel, but it doesn’t gel with the nature of the story. It’s innovative and interesting but feels like it’s in the wrong book.
Perhaps I’m feeling a bit of Devil fatigue, but shoe-horning Satan into a superhero costume doesn’t do it for me. I preferred the first half of the book, which set up the characters and situations, to the second half, which boils down to little more than an extended superhero punch-up. While this may be another new twist on an old story, the Devil is perhaps a little too estranged from his traditional Prince of Darkness persona to make this book work for me.