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Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

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Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby LOLtron » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:43 pm

Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

The Vertigo limited series presents a super-powered British Royal Family during WWII.




The Royals: Masters of War has an interesting concept. Writer Rob Williams and artist Simon Coleby present an alternative history where the members of the British Royal Family have super powers. Sadly, the concept gets somewhat wasted in this Vertigo limited series that takes place in World War II.



The first issue introduces the reader to an alternative Britain ruled by equally alternative House of Windsor. Its monarch is King Albert, is non-powered and determined to keep his children’s abilities secret from his subjects. His oldest son, Prince Arthur is a drunken, privileged louse with an extreme lack of decorum. The younger son, Prince Henry, is the complete opposite, troubled he has to hide his Superman-like powers during the London Blitz. It's suggested that his brother is even more powerful than he is. Finally, there is Princess Rose, is telepath, and might be having more than just a brother-sister relationship with Henry. 

It's here that a reader with a better-than-average knowledge of the modern British monarchy, may get distracted with the more broadly satirical fictional Windsors. For starters, there would never ba a real-life King Albert, as Queen Victoria asked her descendants not to take the name of her consort, Prince Albert. In fact, when Albert, the Duke of York, ascended to the throne following the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, he took the name George VI.



Henry is troubled at his father’s insistence not to use his powers in the war. While the Royals may be super-powered, they can be killed. The super-powered French monarchy goes to the guillotine in the French Revolution, and the family of the Russian Czar are murdered by the Bolsheviks. It is suggested in the first issue that there have been agreements between the various European royal families that kept them on the sidelines of the conflicts that plague European history.

The King’s desires to protect his family are not enough. Henry and Rose witness yet another Luftwaffe bombing raid over London. He finally takes matters into his own hands, which his father fears may have fearful consequences.


It’s a shame that The Royals is set in WWII. The series teases the possibility of other super-powered royalty elsewhere in the world. However, its alternate history doesn’t seem to diverge too much from the real WWII timeline, where the German and Russian empires fell in the wake of World War I. The core concept of the limited series loses a lot its potential in a world that is still very similar to our own. It’s here where the book’s concept starts to suffer. It hasn’t been allowed to create an alternative history as opposed to being inserted into one without being allowed to shape it from the inside out.

The Royals main characters feel shoehorned into a real-life setting. They live a sheltered life mostly divorced from the sufferings and sacrifices their subjects dealt with during the war. This contradicts with the real-life Windsors, who lived under the same rationing measures as the British public. The King and Queen barely survived a bomb dropped in the Blitz that exploded in a Buckingham Palace courtyard. They also lost a family member during the war when the King’s brother, the Duke of Kent, died in a plane crash while serving withe the Royal Air Force in 1942.

The family is presented in the first issue as being more in a satirical, 2000 AD-style of characterization. This is not surprising, as Williams is a 2000 AD alum. The result is a lack of more well-rounded characterization. Characters like Henry, the protagonist, feel flat and lack what the reader might need to make an emotional investment in them. Other characters come off as not being fully developed. 



Artist Simon Coleby’s artwork gets hampered by the sometimes crassness and royalty-bashing. The Rouge Trooper and Judge Dredd artist's pencils balance the royal trappings of the Windsors with the horrors of the war outside the palace gates. The graphic presentations of aerial combat and the bombing of London are in stark contrast to the lush lifestyle of the Royal family.


The Royals had much potential as a concept, but wastes it by tying it into an alternate WWII Britain with a royal family filled with oafish and hard-to-like characters. Coleby’s artistic talent isn’t enough to save the book from heavy-handed storytelling. Its Royals are a far cry from their real-life counterparts, who did not cower from the call of duty.



Written or Contributed by Juan Cena




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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:36 pm

I kind of want to pick up this comic just because of the Royal bashing. Who the fuck supports a monarchy? :lol:

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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Juan Cena » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:06 pm

S.F. Jude Terror wrote:I kind of want to pick up this comic just because of the Royal bashing. Who the fuck supports a monarchy? :lol:



The British tourism industry.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:23 pm

S.F. Jude Terror wrote:I kind of want to pick up this comic just because of the Royal bashing. Who the fuck supports a monarchy? :lol:


There's not as much royal bashing as you might think Prince Henry is the story's hero. Yeah there are some anti-royal statements made by one character. However, it's made clear by certain events that then happen to said character that he's an idiot who is very, very incorrect about the things he says.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:34 pm

Having said that, I agree with Nac when he says that WWII wasn't the best time period to set this in. There's no satisfying explanation as to why certain historical events seem to have happened the same as they did in real life when they shouldn't have given this fictional House of Windsor.

Overall though, I like Prince Henry, and I enjoyed this issue as a result, despite the problems I had.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Juan Cena » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:13 pm

Stephen Day wrote:
There's not as much royal bashing as you might think Prince Henry is the story's hero. Yeah there are some anti-royal statements made by one character. However, it's made clear by certain events that then happen to said character that he's an idiot who is very, very incorrect about the things he says.


Only in such because of the actions of Prince Henry in the book. The King seemed more concerned about his palace's architecture than his subjects, and Prince Arthur was just a self-centered douche.

I definitely felt that the Windsors living in luxuryt and throwing a gala while London was getting bombed was a pretty anti-monarchy statement. Quite different from the real Windsors.
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Strict31 wrote:I'm not sure that combining the nigh-uncontrollable power of LOLtron with the Nacireman is a good idea. Some years from now, when mankind is on the verge of extinction, we'll be able to look back and remember this moment, and say, "DANG."


http://www.shirtswithrandomtriangles.com/

Check out Christmas in Nacirema
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Juan Cena » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:16 pm

Stephen Day wrote:Having said that, I agree with Nac when he says that WWII wasn't the best time period to set this in. There's no satisfying explanation as to why certain historical events seem to have happened the same as they did in real life when they shouldn't have given this fictional House of Windsor.

Overall though, I like Prince Henry, and I enjoyed this issue as a result, despite the problems I had.


I felt the story would have been stronger set in WW I, or in a setting where it never happened in the first place, and the German, Russian, and Ottoman Empires still stood.
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"I have my heroes, but no one knows their names"
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Strict31 wrote:I'm not sure that combining the nigh-uncontrollable power of LOLtron with the Nacireman is a good idea. Some years from now, when mankind is on the verge of extinction, we'll be able to look back and remember this moment, and say, "DANG."


http://www.shirtswithrandomtriangles.com/

Check out Christmas in Nacirema
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:24 pm

Juan Cena wrote:
Only in such because of the actions of Prince Henry in the book. The King seemed more concerned about his palace's architecture than his subjects, and Prince Arthur was just a self-centered douche.

I definitely felt that the Windsors living in luxuryt and throwing a gala while London was getting bombed was a pretty anti-monarchy statement. Quite different from the real Windsors.


And there's only three pages of that, with the rest of the issue showing Henry to be the sympathetic hero. The ending also reveals that the King is concerned about his subjects. It makes it clear that he's been hiding his family's powers to keep his soldiers safe in a secret pact that keeps the other side from using their own super powered individuals of royal descent.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:24 pm

Juan Cena wrote:
I felt the story would have been stronger set in WW I, or in a setting where it never happened in the first place, and the German, Russian, and Ottoman Empires still stood.


I agree here.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Juan Cena » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:32 pm

Stephen Day wrote:
And there's only three pages of that, with the rest of the issue showing Henry to be the sympathetic hero. The ending also reveals that the King is concerned about his subjects. It makes it clear that he's been hiding his family's powers to keep his soldiers safe in a secret pact that keeps the other side from using their own super powered individuals of royal descent.


I never felt any concern for the subjects from the King. He seemed more concerned about protecting his family from his subjects in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution murdering the Romanovs (whom presumably had powers as well.)
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"I have my heroes, but no one knows their names"
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Strict31 wrote:I'm not sure that combining the nigh-uncontrollable power of LOLtron with the Nacireman is a good idea. Some years from now, when mankind is on the verge of extinction, we'll be able to look back and remember this moment, and say, "DANG."


http://www.shirtswithrandomtriangles.com/

Check out Christmas in Nacirema
http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh619160960893481469&shareImp=true#!/stations/play/619160960893481469

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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:43 pm

Juan Cena wrote:
I never felt any concern for the subjects from the King. He seemed more concerned about protecting his family from his subjects in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution murdering the Romanovs (whom presumably had powers as well.)


There are only three pages were the King has dialogue:

Page 10 - "Perhaps we should've buggered off to Canada while we had the offer, but the British people need us, and the moose put me off."

Pages 21 - 22 - "Stupid, stupid, idealistic child. What have you gone and done? We had an international pact. We weren't going to get involved. None of us. Henry you utter bloody idiot, Do you really think we're the only royal family with power?"

The first quote while not showing concern shows a sense of duty to his people. The second shows a great deal of concern about what will happen to everyone now that the other side is going to feel free to unleash their super powered families against Britain.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Juan Cena » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:09 pm

Stephen Day wrote:
There are only three pages were the King has dialogue:

Page 10 - "Perhaps we should've buggered off to Canada while we had the offer, but the British people need us, and the moose put me off."

Pages 21 - 22 - "Stupid, stupid, idealistic child. What have you gone and done? We had an international pact. We weren't going to get involved. None of us. Henry you utter bloody idiot, Do you really think we're the only royal family with power?"

The first quote while not showing concern shows a sense of duty to his people. The second shows a great deal of concern about what will happen to everyone now that the other side is going to feel free to unleash their super powered families against Britain.


He came off too me as being less concerned to be about his family than his subjects. Most of the European royal families were related, so cousins wouldn't want to fight cousins. IDK how this would play out in the LS, unless there were German princes sympathetic to the Nazis.

(And let's not forget, the Windsors trace their bloodlines to Germany).
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"I have my heroes, but no one knows their names"
- Sons of the Desert

Strict31 wrote:I'm not sure that combining the nigh-uncontrollable power of LOLtron with the Nacireman is a good idea. Some years from now, when mankind is on the verge of extinction, we'll be able to look back and remember this moment, and say, "DANG."


http://www.shirtswithrandomtriangles.com/

Check out Christmas in Nacirema
http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh619160960893481469&shareImp=true#!/stations/play/619160960893481469

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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby IvCNuB4 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:09 pm

I always thought that one of the perks of writing fictional stories set in alternate realities is that you don't have to adhere to specific real-world historical facts.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:15 pm

IvCNuB4 wrote:I always thought that one of the perks of writing fictional stories set in alternate realities is that you don't have to adhere to specific real-world historical facts.


True, but when the alternate reality is as close to true history as this one is, reality and true history can't help but intrude into the reader's mind a little bit -- at least I found that to be the case.
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Re: Review: The Royals: Masters of War #1

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:18 pm

Juan Cena wrote:
He came off too me as being less concerned to be about his family than his subjects. Most of the European royal families were related, so cousins wouldn't want to fight cousins. IDK how this would play out in the LS, unless there were German princes sympathetic to the Nazis.

(And let's not forget, the Windsors trace their bloodlines to Germany).


We'll just have to agree to disagree at this point. We're clearly seeing the events of this issue from two separate points of view
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