It begins simply enough. Jimmy Yee has lost everything, botched his attempt to get payback, and just wants to end it all.
There's just one small problem: he can't quite seem to stay dead.
In fact, dying just seems to put him in one strange situation after another, until he finally comes to the realization that he is a demon - a being who can possess others simply by dying near them. And it's not long before he finds himself chased by shady government agents who would like nothing more than to use his powers to further their own agenda.
With his sharp wits and lack of moral compass, Jimmy Yee has no limits... He does not. And there is nothing he cannot - will not - do to achieve his goals...
Warning: Slowly revealing information is a fundamental part of this comic. Anything below this might be considered a "spoiler".
- Alternate History: Demon begins in the past relative to when it was published* , but even at that point, a few details imply that the world of Demon isn't our own. A news station mentions a Disney movie called The Princess and the Pea hitting the box office recently. A character says that the 1978 documentary Scared Straight! was filmed at an "ADX supermax in Colorado" (most likely referring to ADX Florence); in real life, it was filmed in Rahway State Prison (now East Jersey State Prison), in New Jersey. The most glaring detail, of course, is the existence of the OSS, which in real life was dissolved in 1945. (See Government Agency of Fiction below.)
- Arc Symbol: A white ring on a black background, which every demon sees between possessions. It's a parallel Earth, seen from 4D space.
- Black Comedy: Veers in and out of this.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: One of the things Jimmy does in his montage of depravity is fuck a camel.
- Body Surf: Jimmy's powers in a nutshell.
- Brick Joke: Hunter has his agents look into Jimmy's childhood aspirations in case it gives them a lead — if Jimmy dreamed of being an astronaut, for instance, they could stake out the homes of the crew scheduled for the next launch. But as far as they can tell, Jimmy never dreamed of being anything but an actuary. Later, once the entire organization is wiped out and Jimmy is free to live as he pleases, he muses that he always wanted to be an astronaut.
- Crazy-Prepared: Pretty much OSS's hat, and by extension Hunter's. Unfortunately, they have a Wile E. Coyote-like tendency to overlook glaring flaws in their clever defense mechanisms. An hour-long secure exit protocol seems like a clever idea until you have only minutes to escape thanks to a rogue demon with a hijacked fighter plane...
- Death-Activated Superpower: It's impossible for a demon to know they're a demon until they've died at least once.
- Demonic Possession: Jimmy thinks he's a demon because demons possess people. As it turns out, he's not the only one to come to this conclusion.
- Driven to Suicide: Jimmy commits suicide rather than face life in prison after bungling a robbery that was supposed to get him into the same prison as Heron Marsh so he could kill him in revenge for the death of his family. It doesn't stick.
- Chapter 13 ends with the reveal that Gellman wants nothing more than to die, and Jimmy unwittingly provides him the opportunity to kill himself he's been looking for.
- Expendable Alternate Universe: Inverted. Sweetpea figures out how to make a possession across parallel universes, effectively abandoning her "home" universe in order to infiltrate Hunter's compound with the help of her doppelganger.
- Foreshadowing: In volume 2, the truck driver responsible for the accident that killed Jimmy's family survived the crash, but apparently received brain damage — his reading level is mentioned to have been reduced to that of an third-grader. Turns out this is because Sweetpea took over his body.
- Government Agency of Fiction: OSS is a real, if defunct, agency; in Demon, however, they still exist and have influence well into the 21st century. They're also plotting to establish a utopia by creating an army of demons.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Demons wouldn't exist on Earth at all if not for Phaedra, a demon from another world who arrived on Earth through as-yet unknown means 3,000 years ago and influenced the development of civilization to the point where she could create more demons. We may never know her motivation; Gellman killed her shortly after becoming a demon himself.
- Hate Sink: Jimmy is not a likable or sympathetic protagonist in any sense of the word. His goals are completely selfish and he has no qualms with burning through hundreds (if not thousands) of innocent lives if it means fulfilling them. A lot of the comedy stems from his extreme callousness and indifference to the destruction his actions cause.
- Instant Expert: Thoroughly averted. It takes a fair amount of shenanigans before Jimmy even realizes he's able to switch bodies upon death. After breaking out of prison, he spends a fair amount of time experimenting to determine the exact limits of his abilities.
- Internal Monologue: A Shiga standby.
- MacGyvering: Another Shiga standby, taken to its most horrible extremes when Jimmy is in the body of a naked prison inmate in a bare cell.
- Magic A Is Magic A: Possession rules are well-defined, and several scenes hinge on using these rules to unexpected effect.
- Modern Stasis: Despite several time jumps, the only visible advances in technology are electric cars and extremely tall buildings.
- The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Jimmy sees his own head on the possessed body when he looks in a mirror. Other demons can see it as well.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: A natural consequence when your superpower relies on killing yourself so you can possess others.
- Oh, Crap!: Jimmy and Sweetpea have a downplayed version of this reaction after they realize the full ramifications of demonizing the earth.
- Our Demons Are Different: Naturally. The ability to possess people and general lack of scruples are just about the only things these demons have in common with the traditional depiction.
- Our Souls Are Different: As it turns out, a person's personality and memories are stored in a fourth-dimensional organ called the flastical. Demon flasticals are unique in that they are parasitic, which accounts for their possession abilities.
- Pineal Weirdness: A person's flastical is connected to their body via the pineal gland.
- Public Secret Message: While imprisoned in Hunter's compound, Sweetpea leaks information about the compound's defenses via coded messages inserted into seemingly innocuous posts on a message board. Unfortunately, Hunter isn't fooled for long...
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jimmy's actions following the realization he's a demon could be considered an unusually calm and calculated version of this trope.
- Retired Monster: Jimmy banks on Gellman being this when he goes to meet him in chapter 13. As it turns out, he's tired of life to the point he kills himself as soon as he's face-to-face with Jimmy.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!
- Shout-Out: The title page for chapter 7 is based on the dead World's Strongest Robots scoreboard from Pluto.
- Starts with a Suicide: Jimmy hangs himself on the very first page. The fact that it doesn't stick kick-starts the entire plot.
- Takes One to Kill One: The only known way to make a demon's death permanent is if they die closest to another demon, making possession impossible.
- Take Over the World: The goal of Project Azazel, which Hunter intends to see to fruition.
- The End... Or Is It?: After thwarting Project Azazel by demonizing the world, Jimmy begins to theorize that there is another way to switch can bodies: being a good person for thirty three days. And now that everyone on earth is a demon, the ramifications of this are potentially even more catastrophic than Project Azazel.
- Time Skip: Near the end of chapter 12, it's suddenly almost 90 years later.
- And over 100 years pass between chapters 13 and 14.
- Training Montage: Once Jimmy and Sweetpea resolve to thwart Hunter's Take Over the World plot, they set to work training to overcome all the obstacles Hunter has established to demonproof his compound. This includes learning how to walk and fight on a pegleg against a small army of Navy SEALs armed with nothing but a baseball bat.
- Unsound Effect: ADDUCTION! ROUNDHOUSE!
- Utopia Justifies the Means: OSS's goal is to create an army of demons with which to take over the world and establish a utopia. The fact that all three of the (human) demons they've encountered are sociopaths does not seem to have been factored into this plan. After Jimmy singlehandedly destroys OSS, Hunter makes this his personal goal.
- Villain Protagonist: Oh Jimmy, you lovable scamp.
- Wham Line: "I can't believe it! Another demon!!! After 217 years, it can finally end..." BLAM! FLUMP!
- Wham Shot: At the end of chapter 7, Jimmy discovers that his daughter, Sweetpea, is a demon, and has been living in Heron Marsh's body for several months.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Touched on in chapter 13; explored in more detail in chapter 14.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Hard to say if it's the demonizing process, a sudden feeling of invincibility, or just natural jerkassiness.
- In chapter 17, Jimmy admits it's probably the third.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Usually averted, as Jason Shiga is actually very good at math, and math-based reasoning tends to play a crucial role in many of his works. But some of the dates mentioned in Demon don't add up. For instance, in volume 1, a woman born in 1985 is 23 years old, which makes the "current" year 2008. Not long after, Jimmy is stated to be 44, which means he was born in 1964. Later, his dad is said to have been born in 1951. While it's not impossible, it's highly doubtful that Jimmy's dad had him at age 13.