Demon Wars: Shield of Justice #1 is written by Peach Momoko with Zack Davisson on co-script, illustrated and colored by Momoko, and lettered by VC’s Ariana Maher. It’s published by Marvel Comics. Mariko Yashida has been pulled into yet another conflict involving yokai, this time, between the metallic samurai Bake-Yori and expert swordsman Yamato. Not only does Mariko have to deal with a yokai war, but she’s also suffering from fits of rage connected to the oni Jigandoshi. And she’s not the only one.
Momoko has used the Demon Wars saga and its predecessor Demon Days to put her own spin on the Marvel Universe, and that continues here as she adapts the Civil War storyline. As Bake-Yori was the Demon Wars counterpart to Iron Man, Yamato serves as Captain America’s. His armored sleeve, meant to protect yokai, serves as the titular “shield of justice.” Yet, he’s openly hostile to Mariko and even tries to kill her. That moment not only highlights the danger that Jigandoshi poses but also shows how Momoko and Davisson are willing to zag where others might expect them to zag.
And Yamato isn’t the only surprise. During her adventure, Mariko meets a living spider named Kumosuke, who’s meant to be the Demon Wars counterpart of Spider-Man. But where Peter Parker is known for his mile-a-minute quips, Kumosuke is fairly quiet and expresses his feelings with his eyes. That sort of expressive artwork is what Momoko excels at, with her panels zeroing in on the expressions dancing behind the characters’ eyes. There’s a tense staredown between Bake-Yori and Yamato in the rain, and even though none of them say a word, you can feel the anger rolling off of both of them.
Momoko’s colors also continue to be lush and eye-grabbing, resulting in some beautifully haunting imagery. Toward the end of the book, Mariko finds herself in her school classroom. While it’s painted a maroon red, she is depicted as ghostly white—a far cry from the colorful robes she was wearing in the yokai’s world. And Yamato wears a flowing blue and white robe to match Captain America’s classic star-spangled costume, while his ally Nekomata has jet-black fur and a leonine countenance to match the Black Panther.
As always, Davisson proves to be a major part of the creative process, especially when it comes to the “Yokai Files.” This supplemental material not only provides context into the choices that Momoko makes but also showcases the thought that both creators have put into shaping this world. So many writers have simply slapped Japanese aesthetics into a story without considering their impact, so it’s nice to see that some actual research and thought were conducted. It makes the book feel more authentic while also continuing a trend of merging Marvel and manga together.
Demon Wars: Shield of Justice #1 ignites a war between demons and pushes Peach Momoko’s reimagining of the Marvel Universe into new territory. The next chapter, “Down In Flames,” looks like it’ll put its own spin on the Phoenix Saga. And considering that’s one of my all-time favorite Marvel stories, I’m excited to see what Momoko does with it.
Demon Wars: Shield of Justice #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
Demon Wars: Shield of Justice #1 ignites a war between demons and pushes Peach Momoko’s reimagining of the Marvel Universe into new territory.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.