Ava’s Demon, Book One: Reborn by Michelle Fus
(Skybound Comet, 2023)
Reviewed by Phil Nicholls
Ava’s Demon is a YA graphic novel published by Skybound Comet, adapted from a web comic. As the title suggests, young Ava has a Demon. More precisely, the demon is trapped within Ava and often communicates with her via a rotary telephone kept within a compartment in Ava’s torso.
The Demon has made Ava’s life in school a misery by taking command at inappropriate times. However, once Ava agrees to a pact with her Demon, she is launched on a quest to recruit an army. It turns out that the Demon is an alien called Wrathia and was formally a queen, so needs an army to be restored to her throne.
Ava rapidly finds herself on a new planet, accompanied by a small group of young people each with their own problems and agendas. As a YA graphic novel, Ava’s Demon features the usual mix of personal drama and a fast-paced plot.
Indeed, the characters are thrown together quickly, but as the first book in the series, the slow plot development gives each of the supporting characters a chance to shine and reveal their personal backgrounds. Because this is a graphic novel, Fus carefully creates each of the supporting cast with a distinct visual look, along with the usual character traits.
There is Maggie, Ava’s classmate and rival from high school, who displays plant magic. Odin kidnaps Maggie and takes her to a spaceship, which Ava then sneaks aboard and joins them on their voyage. They eventually meet Gil, who is training to be a doctor and is a devoted member of the TITAN corporation.
The high-tech TITAN planet forms the backdrop for the second half of the graphic novel. The TITAN corporation seems to be a cross between a commercial entity and a cult, with strong dystopian overtones. This adds a level of social commentary into the multi-layered story.
I greatly enjoyed the assorted characters. Despite running to around 280 pages, most with six panels of art, Ava’s Demon is clearly focused on setting the stage for a longer story. Backgrounds are revealed, relationships established and there is some character growth, but Fus is predominantly laying the groundwork. The finale delivers more of a plot twist than a conventional conclusion.
Whilst Fus delivers a dramatic ending, from a narrative standpoint I would have liked more resolution to the character arcs. However, this is only Book One, so there is a lot more story to come. The webcomic has been running 10 years, posting about ten panels a week. Thus, Book One may not cover the whole of the first year. If Ava’s Demon appeals, then you may need to make a long-term commitment to reach the end.
Visually, the art here is clear and colourful. Each character has a distinct look and an associated colour palette, as demonstrated on the cover. Ava and Wrathia are red/orange, while Maggie is a thematic green, Odin is purples, and so on. Fus expertly uses the tools of the graphic novel to support their story.
The setting is clearly a fusion of SF and fantasy. Maggie’s magic is pure fantasy, while the TITAN corporation is straight out of cyberpunk. Fus blends this all together into a story that feels like space opera, with a nod to the Japanese comic storytelling tradition. Ava’s world is one where anything seems possible.
Yet, the core of the story is Ava: a young women beset with problems and trying to use her wit and imagination to make the best of a bad situation. She has found the makings of a strong group of friends, but Book One only shows this potential, setting the stage for further development. Ava’s Demon builds the foundations for an epic tale, with fascinating characters and great art. This is the perfect springboard for the subsequent books following Ava’s story.