Devil Dealers

The Devil is a very popular character in literature ranging from the classics to modern comics. Even in stories where he is not seen or heard from, his presence and influence can often be felt within the atmosphere of the story. It’s pretty easy to see why this figure is so intriguing; he never intervenes directly but brings mankind to ruin through their own choices and actions. The Devil only represents the weakness within all people which means anyone can fall prey to his tricks, even the best and brightest among us. The character is so widely known across cultures, and his mysterious and varied behavior within stories and local legends opens up many possibilities for story telling.Devil Dealers takes a pretty interesting approach to a Faustian type of story. Often about the lesson that one should stay away for resist temptation, the characters in this story decide to beat the Devil at his own game.

Devil Dealers prioritizes the Devil’s love of gambling. The main character, Greg Gagne, is a professional gambler who puts his soul up for collateral in the card game. Originally believing it to be a joke, as the host agrees to wager half of all the world’s money, he wins the hand only for the host to be chased away by three intruders. He learns that his host was indeed the Devil, and that they had all previously bet or bargained with him. They claim that they are trying to remove the Devil’s claim to a friend’s soul. Greg is initially unmoved, desiring to spend all the money he won, but he immediately realize what a thrill he got from his encounter. The group sets off to find the notebook of Dr. Faustus that supposedly holds the secrets to the afterlife. This story turns Faustian cautionary tale on its head because what would normally be portrayed as weakness for the Devil to exploit is the greatest weapon that these people have for defeating him. These characters recklessly play with dark forces they don’t understand and come out on top.

Greg's fortune gets boring for him almost immediately
Greg’s fortune gets boring for him almost immediately

An interesting point to note would be that this story does not really use biblical interpretations or references to establish the character. The Devil here is based more on local and urban legends, this version is formed by cultural superstitions instead of religious ones. This is not the ultimate evil waiting to bring about man’s fall, this is a compulsive gambler who despite immense power can be beaten in a tests of both skill and guile. He is not really seen doing anything that human beings don’t already do to each other which is extremely poignant. The comic isn’t ashamed of the silly nature of a lot of devil superstitions either, instead it embraces them. One of the characters is the man who beat the Devil in a fiddle contest in Georgia. The Devil also loses a chicken race despite not being able to die and having no reason to fear a traffic collision.

The only issue with the story was that it felt very cramped; it felt like the author was setting up a story to large to be contained within the limited amount of pages. The characters are amusing, but a bit static due to glanced over back stories. There are plenty of interesting implications and unanswered questions that could be further explored as well. None of this seems due to poor writing or poor concepts, but rather a lack of space. The comic feels like a pilot or  a rough draft that has a lot of potential to go to interesting places. It doesn’t leave the reader feeling unsatisfied, but rather wishing that it was longer and more fleshed out. In the end, Devil Dealers is a fun and quick read with an ending that feels far more like a beginning of a series; a series seems almost necessary to tell the story intending to be told. It would be fair to call this work unpolished, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t real substance and something to enjoy.

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