Sunday, October 30, 2016

Demon Squad: Institutionalized review

    The Demon Squad series is basically a literary comic book with a regular output and no end in sight of the adventures of Frank Trigg a.k.a the Devil's Nephew. The books are a kind of offbeat dirtier Dresden Files with aliens, Lovecraftian entities, Babylonian gods, angels, and demons as regular opponents in the strange world which Tim Marquitz has created. As much as I love Tim Marquitz's Blood War books, I think the Demon Squad books will be what he's remembered for.

    Institutionalized brings us to Frank trying to figure out how he's going to get the US government off his back, which is kind of hilarious given he's the ruler of Hell now. However, the United States government is an elephant in the room even for the Lord of Evil(ishness). So, he goes to make a sacrifice to get his friends back only to be given the leadership of the Department of Supernatural Investigations. It turns out they have bigger fish to fry than Frank and need the new Devil to take her own.

    Newcomers may be overwhelmed by the amount of continuity which is present in the books as we've got Frank as the ruler of Hell, Frank having murdered his ex-wife, Frank's dead wife Karra, the prison dimension where God kept the gods of other pantheons, and the current war against the Great Old Ones with God and Lucifer teamed up. This is no more difficult than your typical comic book to follow, though, and is well worth the continuity. Fans of the series will love seeing oft-ignored characters get used to their maximum potential with a couple of ones I didn't expect to return, well returning.

    The book is mostly a fast-paced action story with lots and lots of craziness crammed into two hundred pages. I'm actually a little disappointed by the size of the book since I think the book could have slowed down a bit in order to allow the story to breathe. There's a bunch of events, twists, turns, and changes before everything explodes in the big finale. I certainly was satisfied with the story but I hope the next book will take a little more time to work on the characters.

    I think my favorite part of the book is the fact it nicely wraps up the storyline of Shaw, the insufferable Amanada Waller-esque bureaucrat who has been a perpetual thorn in the side of Frank Trigg. No matter how powerful Frank has gotten, he's remained the punching bag of mortals as well as gods. Shaw has never treated him as anything other than an insufferable annoyance, so it's fascinating to watch us see just how dastardly our protagonist can be in taking down the most dangerous (human) woman on Earth.

    Frank gets some decent character development here as we see him slowly come out of the rut he's been in ever since Karra died. A natural grieving process is a good thing when you kill off a major character, especially a love interest, but it's been awhile so seeing Frank develop feelings for other people would be welcome after this book. We also get to see Frank's devious treacherous side and just how dangerous he might be if he really turned evil.

    One problem I do have with the book is the Babylonian Pantheon is set up as a major group of antagonists which have a reason to hate Frank given he killed their chief deity. The Babylonians were wronged in this reality by being unfairly imprisoned by God for no other reason than they were rivals. Furthermore, they really haven't shown any sign of being bad guys. Frank has devoted himself to exterminating them preemptively, though, and I think that could have been an interesting plot to develop. I don't think that's going to happen after this book, though.

    I am a little confused about the introduction of yet another faction to the world with the existence of a secret power behind the DSI. A power strong enough that their agents don't see anything wrong with invading God's prison dimension, talking smack to the second Devil, and are capable of hiding from Hell. I actually liked the idea of Frank being the head of the DSI and am sorry it didn't last more than one major plotline. I suppose Frank has enough on his plate, though.

    In conclusion, I think Institutionalized is a fine new entry in the series. The Demon Squad books are loud, funny, crash, and enjoyable. Frank Trigg is the kind of character you could easily do a hundred books with and I don't see any sign of the series dying down anytime soon. I also wouldn't like it if it did.


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