Gotta’ catch them all—“them” being a host of ultra-powerful demons set loose on earth and now largely under the control of an assortment of criminals, altruists, and opportunists. What’s the worst that could happen?
Boom! Studios brings us the opening volley in a new series from Simon Spurrier and Charlie Adlard. In voice over and flashback, the story opens with an introduction to Ellie and her uncle Alfie. Young and naïve, Ellie convinces her uncle to show her a summoning—an act he reluctantly agrees to. The moment… doesn’t go great, but no one dies and it begins Ellie’s introduction to an occult world of magic, angels, demons, and hierarchies far beyond human understanding jotted down in conflicting grimoires and notes scribbled by long-dead madmen.
Twelve years later, Ellie is not the naïve youngster she once was. Other things have changed, too. Alfie is dead, and the circumstances may not be so simple as they first appeared. More immediately, demons, once only summoned by complex rituals, are suddenly appearing at the beck and call of low-level gangsters with only the most basic understanding of magic. Something has changed. And so Ellie sets off with those few people she somewhat trusts, her trusty claw hammer, and all the magical knowledge at her disposal to figure out what happened to Alfie, stop the demonic rampages across the city, and send every one of these beings back to the abyss—even if she has to exorcise each one of them herself.
If only it were that simple.
In Spurrier’s hands, Damn Them All quickly embraces a richly textured mix of noir, dark urban fantasy, and horror. The characters are sharp, the landscape is gritty, and the action draws the reader deeper into this world where there is always some secret or paranormal mystery waiting to be revealed. Not every comic that takes on this scope of storytelling and worldbuilding manages to pull it off, but Spurrier clearly has a handle on the script and the medium to balance all the elements at play here. It’s sometimes a little tricky to keep track of all the players and developments, but the writing quickly brings it all to life and stays strong from start to finish, with snappy dialogue, careful management of time and character jumps, and a bold story that’s only getting started. As great as the demon-hunting adventure is, Spurrier takes the time to go deeper, giving us insight into the complexities of this world and characters, even as incomprehensible beings throw down in the street outside.
Hand-in-hand with Spurrier’s writing, Adlard’s illustrations do a fantastic job creating this world and these characters on the page. With realism that leaves room for stylization, the visuals feel rough and grounded except when reality is interrupted by supernatural forces. As the story continues, these two planes of existence become readily intertwined, as colorful magic courses along gritty back alleys and blood-stained crime scenes. The characters are distinct and diverse, with each page and panel engaging to look at, as investigation moves to action and back again—interspersed with ongoing narration from Ellie and other key characters.
Boom! does not list a specific age rating for this title, but Damn Them All is clearly written for adult audiences. There’s consistent strong language that those familiar with more British styles of cursing may not be surprised by—as well as graphic violence and disfigurement, drug use, and adult situations. The comic has a horror edge to it, but there’s a dark humor running through much of the story that lightens the impact somewhat. The marketing draws an unsurprising comparison to the character of John Constantine, and readers familiar with that brand of gritty but snappy dark fantasy should have an idea of what to expect here. In final summary, Damn them All is not for every collection—but if your readers like mature paranormal noir, Spurrier, Adlard, and the rest of this creative team have created an excellent first volume of a story that should not disappoint readers looking for a complex antihero who’s willing to throw a demon prince through a window just because she’s having a bad day.
Damn Them All
By Simon Spurrier
Art by Charlie Adlard
BOOM! Studios, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: British
Character Representation: British