Seems 2010 was a good year for Shakespeare in our realm. A handful of graphic novel adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, to be added to the growing list, came out. Cheapjack Shakespeare, about the troubles and woes of a summer Shakespeare company, written by former-Aquaman scribe Shaun McLaughlin, came out in comics followed by its own stage adaptation! Heck we can even count the film version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Julie Taymor, director of the upcoming Spider-Man musical, which comes out in theaters next week. Out of the quiet Shakespeare invasion this year, the one that received the most attention was IDW’s release of Kill Shakespeare.
The plot of Kill Shakespeare is what has grabbed our attention: A group of characters created by Shakespeare are out to find him and murder him to control their own fate. What seems like a Robot Chicken sketch plot, is actually quite engaging and falls in more with the likes of titles like Fables. Hamlet is kidnapped of sorts, across time, and brought by witches to Richard III. Richard III has been awaiting his arrival and proclaims him the Shadow King, the one destined to seek out this wizard/god named Shakespeare, and murder him since he apparently controls their fate. All of Shakespeare’s big characters cross paths: Richard III, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Juliet, etc. To keep this fairly spoiler free, we’ll just say that in the pursuit of hunting down Shakespeare, houses are divided and a lot of blood splatter ensues.
Now Del Col and McCreery hit the essence of these characters, remaining true to their Shakespeare play roots. Just when we feel Hamlet isn’t being his typical tortured self enough, he has a wack-a-doo vision of the dead. When we think Richard is being a solid guy, and aside from wanting to kill Shakespeare to escape his destiny, he pulls a dick move. Keeping what is important about the characters helps drive this story, and makes throwing all the characters of the Shakespeare universe together quite fun (and perhaps makes it forgivable if you’re a hardcore fan of his works).
The art by Andy B. is not too bad. He keeps it simple and Shakespearean with a few nice page spreads along the way. I wasn’t a fan but that doesn’t mean you won’t be and should pass on this title, still give this book a look. I believe that the writing by Del Col and McCreery is where the real credit and strength lies. They have weaved an interesting story. Some things I love and always thought about myself, like how scenarios if Hamlet met Juliet would play out, etc; some things I could do without, but overall a nice job here. The language is more old English than Shakespearean, like Thor, but is what readers want.
This collection, Kill Shakespeare vol.1: A Sea of Troubles, collects the first six issues of the series, a cover-gallery, and a back up story (a really cool one about Julius Caesar). It is worth the gander.
Review copy provided by the publisher.