Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Kill Shakespeare #1

Originally posted 20/4/2010 on my other blog.

I heard about this new series on Comic Vine and was immediately intriuged. Their summary reads: " This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare." The English student in me gasped delightedly and I pre-ordered it at my local comic shop.

Issue #1 came out last month, so I am a little late in reviwing it, but I wanted to read it a few times and mull it over before reviewing. Here's a link to the original cover. This isn't the one that I have, which is the variant cover. I think I like mine better, it's a little more relevant for me as it has some of the characters on it, and is more true to the art:
 Image from Kill Shakespeare's website, so all rights belong to them, it's nothing to do with me, etc etc.

Artwork: wow! I haven't read a huge variety of comic books, but I'm pretty confident in saying this is very unique artwork. I really like it. The colors are muted, but not in a dull way. It has a very deep, rich palette. The shapes and lines are really strong and bold. The characters have amazing clothing, quite textured and 'heavy'-looking. So, period-appropriate!

As I said, I haven't got a huge range of other comics to compare this to, but the way the panels are laid out in this issue is really different. The frames are thick and lopsided, not the smooth thin-bordered rectangles in most comics. It's not jarring or intrusive, but it definitely lends flair.

Storyline: Honestly, I was expected a big 'amazing race meets survivor' type deal, with all the villains and all the heroes of Shakespeare running around and fighting on this epic quest. Really, it's a bit more like an MMO. Non-spoilery summary: Hamlet, our main character, is exiled for semi-accidentally killing someone, and then Richard III offers him a deal, which involves Hamlet killing the 'dark wizard-god Shakespeare'. There's also a typed version of the prophecy that the series is based around at the back of the issue.

A little slow as first installations go, nevertheless I'll definitely be following this series to the finish. The concept is just awesome and I really think the artwork A) suits it, and B) is gorgeous. The next issue came out yesterday (May 19th) but being in Australia it'll probably be a week or two til I can get my hands on it. I'll probably review the next issue in a few weeks.

2011 edit:
Having read a lot more comic books since picking up Kill Shakespeare #1 last year, I'm still reading this series, I still love the artwork, and I appreciate the solid character construction more than ever. Next month's issue, #12 will be the last of the series, so if you're not into single-issue format, hang out a while and wait for the trade to come out. 


  1. Trade 2 is apparently coming out in October. Great review! I think I was rougher on it than you were :/ Still planning on reading it when the second TP comes out :)

  2. (You're bloody fast, woman! :P)

    I'm sure I'll be a bit more critical once I do my series wrap-up :) this was one of the first ever comic books I'd read. I think I was really excited to find something that wasn't 'cape and cowl' fare and that turned Juliet from a total girly wuss into a real woman.

    It's by no means a perfect piece of comic book literature, but I still really like it as a series. I hope the boys do some more work soon after this!

  3. this is very true. the only two women - Juliet and Lady MacBeth are huge powerhouses. And they dont do that horrible Fables thing where all the women are identical but for different hair.