Written by: Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col
Art by: Andy Belanger
Colors by: Shari Chankhamma
Edited by: Tom Waltz
Published by: IDW Publishing
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
In Comic shops next week, February 20, 2013!!!
The original Kill Shakespeare maxi series was one of the most impressive debuts I’d ever seen from an indie comic book. From the get go the book just brimmed with professionalism. It had great art, solid writing, and a “high concept” that was immediately embraceable. It was accessible even though its roots were based in Shakespeare and it paid a great amount of respect to the source material from which it was derived. All in all Kill Shakespeare embodied much of what I thought was best in comics and it looks like my opinion was shared by much of the rest of the comic book community because it was pretty much a bona fide hit as soon as it came out of the gate. Fans of both comics and Shakespeare really took to the book and the dedication of the creators was rewarded with almost universal praise in both comic and literary circles.
Now the Kill Shakespeare gang has returned with a new min-series called Kill Shakespeare: The Tide of Blood and I have to say that I find the first issue of Tide of Blood to be just as impressive as the initial Kill Shakespeare series.
Tide of Blood finds Hamlet’s forces locked into a stalemate with Titus Andronicus’s forces following the events of the original series. All the key players have settled into their new roles in life. These roles might seem a bit surprising to any hard core Shakespeare reader. Romeo has become a bit of a hopeless drunkard due to the fact that Juliet (now a general in Hamlet’s army) has shacked up with Hamlet himself. Now if this review is your first exposure to the Kill Shakespeare series and that sentence made your head spin…well, get used to it…this is not your father’s Shakespeare. Writers Conor McCreery, Anthony DelCol, and artist Andy Belanger have continued to take The Bard’s universe in new, interesting, and possibly (to some) somewhat sacrilegious directions. While the characters present in the story may be rooted in Shakespeare’s original works they definitely are behaving in ways and being placed in situations that many fans of the classical works might find hard to wrap their Elizabethan fanboy brains around. I, for one, actually really enjoy seeing these characters put through very different paces and am looking forward to seeing what else this team has up its sleeves when it comes to Shakespeare’s universe. If this first issue is any indication, The Tide of Blood is going to be a very good read indeed.
I want to give major kudos to Andy Belanger as he continues to do a fantastic job on the illustration chores. Belanger has changed his style somewhat from the art of the original series. I don’t know what it is…it seems as if the art in Tide of Blood is a bit rawer and less refined. I actually like this sort of newfound revision to Belanger’s technique. It adds to the feel of a rag-tag group of characters trying to pull a new society together. It gives the whole thing a sort of a “survivalist Shakespeare” vibe that I loved. Also different is the palette of the whole book. From what I remember of the original series it consisted of a lot of reds and browns that added a nice warmth to the book. The colors in this first issue of Tide of Blood are decidedly different. The hues and shades are somewhat brighter than the previous series and that gives TOB very much a feeling of being an all-new chapter in an ongoing saga. It’d be very easy for colorist Shari Chankhamma to stick to the look of the first series since it was such a success. This very slight change in the visuals of the book struck me as a bit of a bold move on her part which made me feel that the people behind Kill Shakespeare were going to be as courageous with their choices in this mini-series as they were with their first outing.
So it looks like IDW has another great comic in the making. Don’t let the name Shakespeare intimidate you away from this book. As much as this comic relies on the works of history’s most famous playwright this is also a tale that stands very much on its own. You won’t need to know Shakespeare through and through to enjoy it. If you like comics that have a compelling story with professional visuals then you are guaranteed to like Kill Shakespeare: The Tide of Blood.