Friday, April 16, 2010

COMIC REVIEW: Kill Shakespeare #1 (IDW)


Sometimes my various circles of geekiness converge in this perfect Venn diagram way, like nerdcore/geek rock, geeky Threadless t-shirts, and comic book movies. The beauty of being a geek who is interested in everything is that this happens all the time. What's really beautiful to a lit geek like me, is that I enjoy Shakespeare just as much as I enjoy my weekly comic fix. Apparently I'm not the only one--IDW brings us Kill Shakespeare, a creative, gorgeously-drawn matryoshka of a story that brings back the Bard's characters in an innovative way.


Shakespeare, though extremely prevalent in our culture, is one of those writers who can be polarizing. Lit geeks love the flowery language and iambic pentameter; others don't want to wade through all of the poetry to get to the heart of the story. Wherever you fall in that spectrum, writers Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col have got a tale for you. It's as if the characters housed in my Complete Works of William Shakespeare volumes have climbed out of their respective plays to visit one another. When taking on this kind of story, it would be easy to make it seem ridiculous or border on parody. This is not the case with Kill Shakespeare. With the debut issue, McCreery and Del Col begin weaving a complex tapestry of characters and plot that has the potential to be one of the best series this year. In the opener, Hamlet, traveling with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, winds up in a completely different place than you remember from lit class, and with completely different consequences. Throw in some familiar hags and a nefarious plot to kill the Bard, and you've got me running to my local comic shop to add this to the pull list.

Adding his talents to this comic is artist Andy Belanger. I'm not familiar with anything else he's done, but with this issue, I'm a fan. His art has a Guy Davis quality to it, which suits the supernatural qualities of this book. Ian Herring does a fantastic job coloring Belanger's art, setting the proper moods on each page. Cover duties are shared by Kagan McLeod and Andy Belanger, and both covers are equally beautiful.

This book is a must-buy for anyone who likes Shakespeare or fans of books like Fables and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and it's a great gateway for that literary friend who says that comics have no substance.

Stacey Rader
Review Editor

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