Comic Book Review: Kill Shakespeare #2, A 21st Century Classic
Up front, I have to be honest. I love modern storytelling. I was raised on the excitement of 20th Century pop-culture. My childhood was full of Lucas, Spielberg and Donner. My adulthood is garnished by Tarantino, Scorsese and Wes Anderson. Now, intellectually I understand that Shakespeare is a master storyteller. I know that if something was done right in a piece of fiction he did it first. I get it. He was a man of his time. At that time he was a modern storyteller. Hell, I’m a writer, but for whatever reason I’ve never studied The Bard in depth. I just, you know, haven’t gotten around to it. I’m not scared of 17th Century english. I know the King James Bible intimately. So, I can handle “thees” and “thous.” However, when it comes down to it, I’d rather pick up some Steinbeck, or (let’s be honest) some 1980’s Claremont.
And that’s where Kill Shakespeare comes in.
Kill Shakespeare is a comic book that crosses worlds and genres and happens to star a who’s who of Shakespearean characters. It’s an idea so crazy and awesome that I have to ask, why hasn’t someone thought of this before?
The story’s focus so far has been on a time-displaced Hamlet. I know enough about The Tragedy of Hamlet to know that he doesn’t end up in the court of Richard III and hanging out with Iago to boot. That’s where Kill Shakespeare takes it’s reader. To a place where The Bard’s creations can all get together and interact. Really, it’s a great idea, but what about the conflict? Oh, that’s the real killer. Richard III wants Hamlet to hunt down a (supposedly evil) wizard. This wizard controls people like a cruel-god. Maybe you’ve guessed already by the title of the book; Richard wants Hamlet to Kill Shakespeare–easy-peasy-awesome. I couldn’t help but think, only in comic books. However, the art is so cinematic it almost moves. And no offense to Mr. Belanger, but the action scenes were played out more smoothly than in issue #1.
Anyways, Richard uses trickery, cunning, and tyranny to control our man Hamlet, and since we know a little Shakespeare, we know that the dude is no good. Hamlet, true to character, wants to be valiant but gets his hands inadvertently dirty. Knowing these stories already will enhance your experience, but the comic is written well enough that you don’t have to.
I don’t want to get too detailed with the story here. I’d recommend you pick this baby up and read it for yourself. Let me just say, the violence is brutal, the action is kinetic, and the story is damn clever. And is it just me, or is there a little homo-erotic tension going on between Iago and Hamlet? Maybe it’s just me?
Do yourself a favor, pick up Kill Shakespeare. It makes this 21st Century man want to study up on ol’ Willy.
Kill Shakespeare #2, Written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, Art by Andy Belanger.