Archive for Kill Shakespeare

Return of the Barbarian

Joe the Barbarian #7

It’s been a while since we saw this one — the previous issue came out in early July. But it’s great to see that the delay is over and we can get back into the hallucinatory fantasy.

Joe is a diabetic kid who might need a glass of soda to stop his hallucinations — or he may actually not be hallucinating and really is leading an army of action figures against the tyranny of King Death. While the army is attacked by Deathcoats and zombies, reinforcements come in from Smoot’s family of submarine pirates, giving everyone a chance to finally make it to the Fountain of Life — otherwise known as the bottle of soda in the refrigerator. But will Joe use the Aqua Vitae to save himself or to save loyal members of his army? And can Joe survive a face-to-face meeting with King Death?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to see this series is still going. Lots of excitement and thrills here, amazing battles, and some really terrifying dangers. This has been a great series — and next issue will be the last one.

Morning Glories #2

Casey has discovered that her parents have been killed by the teachers at the diabolical Morning Glory Academy — and they’re not glad she found out, so they torture her for a while before throwing her back in with her new classmates, who’ve all gotten detention. Ike and Hunter went on an after-curfew exploration and discovered a bunch of secret cultists, while one of the R.A.s tried to stab Jade and Zoe, but they got blamed for all the chaos. Casey refuses to tell the other students that her parents have been killed, and the teachers seal up the detention room and start flooding it. Are the teachers really trying to kill all of them?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, with lots of intrigue and mystery. Not sure why Casey is working so hard to hide the fact that her parents are dead or that she’s been tortured — it’s not like the rest of the students don’t suspect something’s up anyway.

Kill Shakespeare #5

Iago successfully defect’s to the cause of the rebellion, to the consternation of the always-honorable Othello. Deciding that he needs to make his own way, Hamlet leaves the group of rebels to see if he can find the wizard Shakespeare by himself — only to fall prey to nightmarish visions of his dead father and Polonius. He also learns that Richard III’s men are torturing and slaughtering the peasants in the area, and he falls in with a group of travelers, Demetrius, Lysander, and Adriana — none suspecting that Richard’s soldiers are following them.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nothing really spectacular going on in this one — aside from Hamlet’s ghostly visions — but the story is advancing nicely, and it’s still keeping my interest. Looking forward to more of it…

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What Light through Yonder Window Breaks?

Kill Shakespeare #4

Hamlet and Falstaff have just made a narrow escape from Richard III’s men and are now stuck riding through the forest wearing dresses — thanks to a failed scheme of Falstaff’s to disguise themselves as women. Falstaff takes Hamlet to an inn that’s a secret organizing base for the resistance, and they meet two of the resistance’s superstars — Juliet and Othello. They don’t have very much confidence in a supposed Shadow King who wears a dress, but they don’t have long to debate, as Richard’s men soon attack the inn. Othello is one heck of a fighter, but will his warrior instincts hold up when he learns that his old enemy Iago is on the scene?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m still surprised I’m enjoying this as much as I am — I did suspect that it was a one-joke concept that wouldn’t last beyond one or two issues, but I’m still very pleased with how it’s developing. I’ve heard it described as “The League of Extraordinary Shakespeare Gentlemen,” which isn’t far off the mark.

Hellboy: The Storm #2

Nimue, destroyer of Merlin, murderer of Queen Mab, corruptor of the fae, is on the march — her goal is the death of mankind and the entire planet. Her champion is a gigantic monster transformed from a lowly hedgehog, and he has enough oomph to impale Hellboy on a spear. Of course, Hellboy can’t really die anymore, and there isn’t much he can’t kill when he’s armed with Excalibur, so he and his human friend Alice continue on their way, finding a pub to rest in, while Hellboy reminisces about his boyhood in New Mexico with Professor Bruttenholm.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This story mixes ancient mythology with a giant slugfest with more personal storytelling, and it all seems to work fine. I’m loving Duncan Fegredo’s art here — it’s fun and kinetic and personable.

Baltimore: The Plague Ships #1

Well, there’s this nobleman named Lord Henry Baltimore who’s hunting vampires in a town plagued by an epidemic of, well, the plague. The vampires try to escape in an airship, but a local witch hexes it so it gets struck by lightning and explodes. Baltimore meets the witch and her beautiful daughter, who is desperate to escape from the town. Baltimore is imprisoned on suspicion of being in league with the devil, and the witch’s daughter helps him escape, in exchange for letter her travel with him.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Maybe you need to have read Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s “Baltimore” novel first… but that really shouldn’t be a requirement. There should be something to explain the backstory of the main character and the setting, because if you don’t have that, none of this makes much sense at all.

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Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be!

Kill Shakespeare #3

Hamlet has been rescued from Iago by Falstaff, while Richard III makes a political bargain with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Falstaff tells Hamlet that the wizard Shakespeare is actually a good guy, and they’re both visited briefly by another of Shakespeare’s allies, the fearsome but diminutive faerie called Puck. The travelers visit an inn to rest but are ambushed by Richard’s men. Their disguises as some of the inn’s whores is quickly seen through, but they still manage to make their escape. Macbeth, however, finds himself on the wrong end of a betrayal.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I was kinda not expecting to like this one as much as I did, but the appearance of more and more of Shakespeare’s characters is helping to keep this entertaining. The art is very nice — loved the eerie appearance of Robin Goodfellow, and Falstaff is perfectly rendered. I also liked the way Richard’s men wore noticeably different uniforms than Macbeth’s soldiers — you’d expect both to wear stereotypical medieval armor, but they don’t. And I thought the increasingly rude, crude, and lewd nature of the story actually worked pretty well — remember, Shakespeare’s plays were often pretty raunchy…

Hellboy: The Storm #1

Well, Hellboy’s the rightful heir to the British throne, and Britain’s noble dead will soon be rising from their graves to serve him. And by coincidence, Hellboy and his friend Alice are investigating a strange church burglary — someone stole the bodies of three ancient knights. But the priest confides after the local police have left that what he actually saw were the knights leaving the church on their own. Hellboy tells Alice that he’s given up drinking after spending the last few years pretty hopelessly sauced. After a very weird incident with a guy ominously ringing a bell (seriously, doesn’t sound like much, but it’s way creepy), they’re both attacked by a monster pledging to be just the first of an army that will wipe humanity off the face of the earth.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Loves me some good creepy Hellboy comics. Writing by Mike Mignola, art by Duncan Fegredo, and awesomeness all over the place.

Chimichanga #3

The monstrous Chimichanga has been captured by the police, and Lula the bearded girl has been kidnapped by Dinderly Pharmaceuticals, who need her chin-whiskers to make their new flatulence drug. Wrinkle, the old man who owns Wrinkle’s Traveling Circus, can’t find any legal help, and most of the circus performers hate both Lula and Chimichanga, so they won’t help. Only Heratio the Boy-Faced Fish is willing to help raid the city pound to rescue Chimichanga. But even if Chimichanga can find Lula, do they have any hope against the corporate might of a heartless pharmaceutical megacorporation?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, it’s goofy and gross the way you’d expect from an Eric Powell comic, but it’s also got more than its share of sweetness in it, too. (Appreciate the sacrifice, kids — Powell will now order me hunted down and killed for noticing that…)

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To Be or Not to Be

Kill Shakespeare #2

Hamlet, exiled prince of Denmark, has been declared the Shadow King by Richard III and told that he alone is the key to destroying the wizard Will Shakespeare. They travel with Iago to seek Shakespeare’s hideaway, but run into Shakespeare’s supporters. They are subdued, and when Hamlet is out-of-hearing-range, Richard orders the village where the rebels were hiding burned to the ground. That evening, their camp is attacked by marauders led by an archer named Tamora, but Hamlet is hidden by Falstaff — but is he plotting against Hamlet, too?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Definitely enjoying this League of Extraordinary Shakespearean Characters concept — aside from how much fun it is to try to identify the various characters we run into, the storyline is just crammed to the gills with betrayals, deceit, and intrigue — perfect for a story based on the Bard’s most famous tragedies.

Joe the Barbarian #5

Joe is a kid who may be the prophesied savior of a vast fantasy world — or he might just be diabetic kid who needs a shot of insulin before he dies. After Joe, Jack, Smoot, and Zyxy make their escape in Zyxy’s experimental flyer, they get separated, with Joe and Jack alone facing a new menace. Either someone left the family’s front door open, letting a stray dog into the house — or King Death has released his monstrous Night Dog to hunt down and kill Joe. Is there any way to escape? Or will someone have to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m really impressed by how intense this story is. Yeah, most of this is going on inside Joe’s head, but the nonstop danger in his hallucinations just helps remind you that Joe is actually in serious trouble — he’s home alone, in a very large house, with his medicine far away, and he’s got a medical condition that could kill him. Grant Morrison’s writing is still great, and Sean Murphy’s artwork is still outstanding. You’re reading this, aren’t you? Well, go pick it up!

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By the Pricking of my Thumbs, Something Wicked this Way Comes

Kill Shakespeare #1

How ’bout this for high concept: We start out with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, mad at his uncle for killing his father and marrying his mother, just like Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet kills Polonius by accident, gets banished from the country, gets sent away by ship with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern — all just like the play. Except not everything is just like the play. Hamlet is having dreams about these three witches who keep pronouncing prophecies, the ship is attacked by pirates, and after he gets knocked overboard, he wakes up to find himself in a strange country ruled over by a hunchbacked monarch named Richard III. Richard claims that the land is tortured by an evil wizard named… William Shakespeare. Richard and the witches don’t need Hamlet to kill Shakespeare — just sneak into his hidden dwelling and steal the magic quill he uses to write his stories. In exchange, the witches say they’ll bring Hamlet’s father back to life.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely twisted concept. You may get the most out of this if you’ve got a good grasp of Shakespeare’s works, but so far, most of what I see is fairly familiar stuff. Plus you get Hamlet, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern fighting pirates. There’s a lot to love about that.

Secret Six #20

I’m a bit leery to spoil this one, ’cause it’s quite good. But let’s set this up. The Six have been out on one of their typically bloody-minded jobs. They check in with the horrible old guy who hired them, and before he pays them, he gets a phone call, then hands the phone over to Catman. The guys on the other end of the line say, “Hi, we just attacked your ex-lover, Cheshire, and have kidnapped your son, and hey, we’re going to kill him, no matter what, but how ’bout this — for every one of your friends you manage to kill in the next five minutes, we’ll let the tyke live for another year.” After that, there follow several very, very tense pages where Catman glares at his team, and the rest of the Six, realizing something funky is up, glare back. What happens after that? That would be too much of a spoiler.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s very, very good. The first seven pages are some of the best, most suspenseful pages you’re going to get to read in comics. The rest of it is pretty good, too. So go get it already.

Anything else? Have I mentioned the Lubbock Comic Book Expo? You remember it’s gonna get started tomorrow, right? I’ll be there for at least part of it — hunt me down and say howdy.

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