Damion Hellstrom one of the flag ship characters of Essential: Marvel Horror Volume 1. His books from the 70’s exude that paranoia bestowed on the American psyche by The Exorcist that behind curtain and around every corner there was a demon waiting to possess you. Those come across as pretty standard super hero fare. Even though Hellstrom is the son of the Devil, and constantly fighting against the Devil’s forces (because unlike Satana he wants to be free of his father), he is basically a hero in a cape there to fight against the forces of evil.
The re-boot of this title finds a darker and more sinister Damion Hellstrom in its pages. It would seem that the internal struggle of Damion against his darker demonic self is now external . He is no longer a man with something deep inside of him longing to get out, he is actually two entities. One that wants to crush the forces of evil and another that wants to herald the return of Satan to earth. There are two people on the trail of the evil side of Damion. Damion himself, and a former priest and exorcist named Gabriel (also from Marvel’s bullpen of 70’s horror characters).
There are points in this where the plot is a little muddled, and the hints at back stories and other characters alluded to make it a little obvious that this is just supposed to be an introduction to the title. Because of that, as a single issue it is a little unsatisfying. The writer, Rafael Nieves has some clunky passages in here, and some of the exposition seems a little forced. It is almost like he was being forced to tell the story of one and a half comics in one comic.
Artist Michael Bair has a sketchy and intense style that fits the title really well. It is almost a throw back to some of the pre-code horror titles, while maintaining the same feel as other Marvel horror titles from the 90’s. That style made more dark and intense by full bleed, and full black pages. This is the look that I loved when I was in middle school reading all of those Midnight Sons titles, I’m not sure how I never picked this book up when I was a kid. Discovering this later in life I can see the flaws in it, but overall I do enjoy it. I will be interested in seeing where subsequent issues take the plot.