Kill Shakespeare, Vol. 1
by Conor McCreery & Anthony Del Col
Imagine a world in which all of Shakespeare’s characters live and interact, and you’ve got the basic premise of the comic book series Kill Shakespeare. Forced to flee Denmark after killing Polonius, Prince Hamlet arrives in King Richard III’s England. The King sets Hamlet on a quest to locate the wizard William Shakespeare and obtain his Quill; in return for bringing the quill to Richard, the King will bring Hamlet’s father back from the dead. Opposing Richard’s desire to rule England are the Prodigals, a ragtag band of Shakespearean characters led by Juliet and Othello. As alliances are formed and broken – characters like Iago constantly switching sides, naturally – and chaos reigns throughout England, Hamlet must take his fate into his own hands and decide whether to join the rebellious Prodigals or continue his quest for the mythological Quill of Shakespeare.
So can we officially call literary comics a big trend? Ever since the massive success of Fables, it seems like there’s always another literature-based comic book on the shelves. The Unwitten. Jack of Fables. (That’s technically a Fables spin-off, so I guess it doesn’t count.) Royal Historian of Oz. Aladdin. I could go on and on. But Kill Shakespeare was the graphic novel displayed at the front of my local comic book store last time I popped in, so that’s the one I read.
It’s very violent. The title’s friggin’ Kill Shakespeare. Of course it’s violent. The story starts with a corpse – specifically, the dead King of Denmark – and the body count continuously rises throughout the story. Some graphic scenes include a man getting his eyes gouged out, a man’s hand getting chopped off, a woman nearly raped, and rotting corpses everywhere. All the gore does suit Shakespeare’s characters, but for some reason people often forget how bloodthirsty a playwright he was.
Art’s OK. It suits the story. Hamlet’s appearance was a little shaky, and changes a bit throughout this volume, but the rest of the cast stay more or less consistent throughout. It’s such a large cast that I had trouble remembering who some of the minor characters were. I’m sure that in subsequent volumes, the number of names and faces to remember will only increase.
I’m interested in reading more because it’s fun to see all these characters from different plays interact. I can’t say I particularly care whether the wizard/god Shakespeare is ever found, but I think watching Falstaff and Othello argue is hilarious. Check it out and see what you think.
3.5 out of 5 stars