Monday, August 23, 2010

Comic Book Review: Kill Shakespeare #1 - 4

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: Anthony Del Col, Conner McCreery
Penciller and Inker: Andy Belanger
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Robbie Robbins

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Kill Shakespeare had entered into my ears the first time by way of NPR, when writer Anthony Del Col had been interviewed on one of the stations many shows, Talk Of The Nation.  While the concept sounded interesting, I threw this comic book endeavor by the writer as nothing more than an unintelligent spoof of Shakespeare’s classic stories and a cheap way of earning a few extra bucks.  I mean really, how can many people take a title like “Kill Shakespeare” seriously?  When I first heard of the title, the initial response that popped out in my head was “Oh, so subtract ‘Bill’ and insert ‘Shakespeare’ and you have an uncreative title for an unintelligent plot base.”  Needless to say, I was unimpressed and had no desire to pick up Kill Shakespeare. 

A few weeks later I received an e-mail from Anthony Del Col himself, requesting that I read his comics and review them on my blog.  (Who knew my blog was read by anyone important huh?)  As an incentive, he sent me the first four issues of the series via e-mail in PDF format absolutely free. (The fourth issue hadn’t been released at the time I received the e-mail by the way.)  I responded with a positive response to Mr. Del Col agreeing to read and review his comics with the assurance that I will be completely and utterly honest with my opinions of his work.  Having no second thoughts on the part of Del Col, I read the first four issues the very next day.  And, believe it or not, this series might actually become one of my favorites!

Del Col surprised me by keeping the comedy to a minimum and the drama strong and fierce.  Even more so, Del Col not only gives this series a depth beyond expectations, but continues in the literary quality that Shakespeare established in his day.  The plot is that the characters from all of Shakespeare’s stories have come to the realization that some wizard with the same name as their creator has a power beyond recognition, a power hidden within his quill.  King Richard the 3rd requests the assistance of Hamlet in a quest to not only attain the quill, but also kill its owner.  But with the help of famous characters like Juliet, Othello, and Falstaff, Hamlet soon discovers that not everything is as it seems.

Del Col does an amazing job at making an entirely new story with these classic characters; keeping true to what their individual stories make them out to be as characters while still making them new and vibrant all at the same time.  I was shocked to see how creative the story is.  I was expecting a comedy, but instead I discovered a piece of literary work that would equal the intense and vivacious nature that Shakespeare had brought into his stories centuries ago. 

Most pleasing was how Del Col used the original characterizations for each character that Shakespeare had established when he wrote them, but there was no shout outs and copied dialogue that dulled or dumbed down the story.  Rather, the dialogue and literary components felt new and fresh even though it still felt as if I was reading one of Shakespeare’s actual plays. 

But what made this read most pleasing was the fact that it IS a comic book.  How many times did we read Shakespeare in high school with no visual counterpart?  Teachers constantly expected their students to read the plays without playing a video of one of the productions.  (At least that was my experience.) Kill Shakespeare allows us to read a Shakespearean style story in the way it was intended…by seeing it!

Andy Belanger, having never heard of him before, is an amazing artist.  His style is very reminiscent of Amanda Conner’s with her work on Power Girl.  The cartoonish style did not detract from the story in the least.  In fact, it enhanced it.  It allows us to read a very serious story with the understanding that this is supposed to be a fun and refreshing read.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
I agree with what Del Col said about the idea behind the story, and hopefully people CAN become excited about reading Shakespeare after reading these comics.  This was such a good idea and I’m glad Del Col and McCreery turned this into a comic book rather than a video game.  Hopefully, after this arc is over, the literary duo will continue with this series as the potential for Kill Shakespeare to be one of the best comic book titles to come around in a long time is HUGE!

Rating: 10 out of 10
Writing: 10 (issues 1-4)
Art: 10 (issues 1-4)
Themes: 10 (issues 1-4)

And for your viewing pleasure, here is the trailer for the series…

1 comment:

  1. First impression... it sounds very "Into the Woods-"esque. The characters of fictional works become self aware.

    It also sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to look it up at some point.