ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Demon Days: Mariko,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

DEMON DAYS MARIKO #1 - But Why Tho

Demon Days: Mariko #1 is written, illustrated, and colored by Peach Momoko (with English translation by Zack Davisson) and lettered by VC’s Ariana Maher. It is published by Marvel Comics.  Part one of “The Yashida Saga” finds schoolgirl Mariko Yashida being haunted by dreams of an oni and gripped by fits of rage. Soon, Mariko learns the truth from her grandmother: she is the child of an oni, with another oni named Ogin hunting her for her blood. Mariko soon battles Ogin’s minions with the help of her maid Kuroki, who is secretly the Black Widow.

Continuing Momoko’s Demon Days Saga, Mariko picks up from where the Demon Days: X-Men one-shot left off. It also focuses on one of the X-Men’s most important supporting characters, Mariko. Mariko had a long and tragic romantic history with Wolverine in the mainstream Marvel canon, while also being related to other mutants such as the Silver Samurai (her half-brother) and Sunfire (her cousin.) Here, Momoko turns the spotlight on Mariko and gives her both depth and agency. She struggles to fit into school and control her rage, which nearly leads to her killing a man. And she also runs the gamut of emotions upon learning she’s an oni; from disbelief, to shock, to resolve. Marvel is no stranger to giving supporting characters their own superhero identities including Gwen Stacy; here, making Mariko the focus of the story ties into the Japanese culture surrounding the story and makes it feel more authentic.

That influence can be felt in other aspects of the story, including the names and professions of certain characters. Mariko’s grandmother is a jushi (a curse master) who specializes in spells and medicines meant to ward off evil. Black Widow is referred to as Kuroki, which translates to “black tree” in English. And Mariko was found as a baby with a tanto blade, which she reclaims later on in the issue. Davisson also returns with the “Yokai Files,” which feature more information on the ao bozu (“Blue Priest”) and the kidomaru (oni child); the latter essay is both a learning experience and rather fitting since Mariko falls into that category.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Momoko’s art, which continues to be visually stunning and showcase the influence of Japanese mythology in this world. Black Widow wears a black dress with a design that incorporates her signature widow emblem, along with a matching hair clip. The X-Men’s Nightcrawler is shown as a ghastly pale man wearing a blue feathery cloak, with tendrils that shoot out and ensnare his victims. Momoko’s paintings also have rich splashes of color, including splatters of red that resemble blood and shadows falling as candles are snuffed out. Between her work on Demon Days and her various variant covers, Momoko is slowly cementing her place as one of the most visually dynamic artists in the comic industry.

Demon Days: Mariko #1 continues to place a Japanese-inspired twist on the Marvel Universe, this time shifting its focus to one of the X-Men’s supporting characters. The next one-shot promises to continue the “Yashida Saga” and introduce other characters such as Gwen Stacy/Ghost-Spider and Mystique into this unique new universe; considering how great the series has been so far, I can’t wait to see how Momoko continues to flesh out this unique universe.

Demon Days: Mariko #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on June 16, 2021.


Demon Days: Mariko #1
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TL;DR

Demon Days: Mariko #1 continues to place a Japanese-inspired twist on the Marvel Universe, this time shifting its focus to one of the X-Men’s supporting characters. The next one-shot promises to continue the “Yashida Saga” and introduce other characters such as Gwen Stacy/Ghost-Spider and Mystique into this unique new universe; considering how great the series has been so far, I can’t wait to see how Momoko continues to flesh out this unique universe.