by Rob Williams (Writer), Will Sliney (Artist), Veronica Gandini (Colorist)
The Story: Magic is getting changed toward something altogether as Mys-Tech tries to make sure it stays like this forever thanks to the help of zombie King Arthur. Thankfully, some of the old Knights of Pendragon are there to try to save the day.
The Review: There are times when you do not know what to think after finishing an issue. Whether it is actually better or worse than your actual initial analysis, there some comics that are transcendental in terms of quality. Despite what it might try to do, its success and its actual intentions are lost in the sea of confusion that finishing the issue leaves the reader in, with naught but the ambiguity of the general appreciation in terms of company.
This is pretty much how I felt when I finished the last page of this comic. While it decidedly does feel British in many of its aspects, there are many oddities in this comic that are a bit indiscernible in terms of intents. Was this supposed to be weird and confusing? Was it supposed to be funny? How does this tie-in to the general story behind Revolutionary War? All of these questions, unfortunately, aren’t that clearly answered, even with a second reading, making this something that is hard to render in objective terms.
As far as the humor goes, it range from genuinely funny to downright bizarre, with some lines of dialogue, especially those made by Union Jack, that are downright entertaining. However, there is a certain dedication to randomness and destruction of expectations here that make some of the elements here rather unclear in terms of their legitimate worth as humor. It might be because I’m from Quebec, but there are several jokes that felt either a bit too light or forced to make them actually funny. There’s an uneven execution of jokes which makes some of the better jokes really great, yet they are balanced by downright weird jokes that make close to no sense.
The same could be said for a few of the concepts brought forth by Rob Williams, with some of them using the Marvel Uk mythology very well. The idea that the British subconscious is getting twisted by an evil devil-worshipping corporation is an impressively sound concept, one that is actually well-used in the first half of this issue, yet the moment the zombie knights of the round table arrive, the comic devolve in madness. There is a certain appeal to the madness, conceptually, yet it is rushed and poorly executed as many of the key themes are simply thrown at the readers in quick succession without any buildup or setup as to why and how some things arrive. Zombie knights, an old man turning into a super hero a giant basketball player with magical powers and that’s only scratching the surface of the craziness on display here.
It could have worked brilliantly if there were characters to interact with all that happens here, but sadly a good part of the cast is simply absent in terms of reactions and consequences. While the way Peter Wisdom, Union Jack and Albion reacts and try to solve these problems make for some entertaining moments, other characters like Kate Mclellan, Dai Thomas and Sir Gaiwan are purely inconsequential to what happens. Some of the development for those characters are also extremely rushed or merely suggested, such as the renewed hope of Albion, or the rekindled romance between Dai and Kate, but the characterization, for the most part, do its job in terms of entertainment if not in terms of contribution to the plot at large.
Despite all of this, the art by Will Sliney is acceptable, with some areas that are a bit horrendous and some that are pretty nice. The backgrounds and sceneries add a lot to the context in which the characters are in, with Sliney adding a lot of details to make the comic look as lively as possible. There is also a good sense of anatomy for the characters as well as a decent panel to panel flow that makes the fluidity of the story apt for what the story tries to tell. Where it’s bad, though, is with the facial expressions, as emotions are either treated in hyperbole in the worst of fashion or they are muted, which leaves close to no nuance to what the characters are feeling or doing. The poses and the actions are also a little bit stoic, with a certain exaggeration in terms of stereotypical poses, such as the heroic punch, slash and posing that seems a bit trite in some of the more dramatic moments of the script.
The colorization of Veronica Gandini are fine, though. For all the chaos attached to the script and art, the range of colors and the use of clear-cut contrasts makes for some nice colors to add a certain vivacity to the visuals. There are mixing techniques used here by Gandini which simulate the strangeness of Avalon and the magic therein very well, putting some diversity in the many elements of the background for good measure. There are some places where the colors are a bit too grim and where the shading isn’t as nuanced as in other pages, but the colorization is quite competent nonetheless.
The Conclusion: While it is clear that the creative team did try to bring a British comic full of its unique kind of humor and action to a new kind of audience, this issue fails in some key areas, providing for a less than ideal reading experience. There are moments where the ideas are neat and the humor funny, but it becomes too muddled up in its execution to be qualified as a success.
Hugo Robberts Larivière