Kill Shakespeare #1 - 'A Sea Of Troubles' - McCreery, Del Col and Belanger
Story - I'm not a particularly big fan of old William Shakespeare. Like every Englishman, I studied his work a lot at school, I've read Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant Of Venice and Hamlet. But that was work, that was something I was forced to do, I had to read them and write lengthy essays on them, or otherwise I wouldn't pass my A-Levels. I've never read the Bard for fun.
Which is why this issue surprised me by how much I enjoyed it, and by how much knowledge of the plays I had retained in my mind. I suppose it helped that this issue was mainly an adaptation of Hamlet, up until the very end. We pick up after Hammy has murdered Polonius, and is being sent to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. It's from this point and the attack of Pirates that McCreery and Del Col spin their take on the story. Instead of heading back to Denmark, Hamlet is washed-up in England, and meets Richard III, and is tasked with killing an evil Wizard named William Shakespeare, in order to resurrect his father. It's a goofy concept, but the writers make it work, and I'm interested to see where it goes.
I was impressed by how well the writers adapted Shakespeare's language, it wasn't exactly the same (the only writer I've seen ape this style perfectly is Alan Moore in League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier) but it was a nice halfway house between standard comics language, and Shakespeare. I was also surprised at how action-packed this issue was. It wasn't all soliloquies, the fight between Hamlet and the Pirates was bad-ass to say the least.
While this issue is mainly about Hamlet, the writers do seem to be bringing in other Shakespeare characters, you get Richard III (or is it actually Macbeth? I think it might be), and I'm interested to see which other characters show up, will we get a wise-cracking Shylock? Romeo and Juliet as a crack-assassin team?
I'm also interested in just how meta this book is willing to go, how is Shakespeare in the world of his own characters? Is he travelling into them? Or are they suggesting he was a Wizard who replaced real history with stories? Hamlet's home being called Helsingor rather than Elsinore could indicate that.
In the end, this was a fine issue, it reminded me of how good Shakespeare actually is (I may go and read him for pleasure now!) and made me forget about frantic English Lit exams, if it doesn't get too Meta, then I can see myself enjoying this a lot.
Art - Belanger isn't an artist I'm familiar with, but I liked his work here, reminding me of Cameron Stewart and Locke and Key artist Gabriel Rodriguez. Strong lines, and clear expressions. With complex dialogue, you need clear art, and this fits.
Best Line - 'And all this land shall be ours'