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Perhaps I’m speaking too soon, but issue seven of "Kill
Shakespeare" is one of the best comics I’ve ever read. I don’t know what happens
in the next two issues, but this may very well be the best issue in the series.
There is literally so much at work in this comic that it is amazing to read. If
by the end you do not feel something for these characters then you are bitter and jaded
beyond help and should quit reading comics. Sadly I wish that I could say that
readers could just pick up issue seven and start from here, but the pay-off
comes from having read the series from the beginning.
The issue begins with Iago in the bed chamber of Lady Macbeth. They are going over the details of their despicable plots and double crosses. That’s right Iago is not a double agent, but a triple agent! Macbeth’s plot is to kill Shakespeare, but also to kill Hamlet the Shadow King in the process as well. The quill that Richard seeks so desperately is to remain trapped in its rightful owner’s lair. Iago warns her of the part in the prophecy that says, “A Lady shall fall.” Lady Macbeth is overly confident and strikes Iago’s hand away from her leg as she tells him everything will go according to her plan.
Back at the village of Shrewsbury a traveling show approaches the town on its regularly scheduled visit. The two leaders of the traveling party, Toby and Feste speak of the boring nature of the town unaware of the battle a day before. Feste assures Toby that there is a reason for their arrival at the town and that every visit serves a purpose. As he finishes a young man runs out from the town and tells of their exploits from the day before. Feste is inquisitive and asks if there was someone new added to the mix, a young man perhaps? The man then goes on to spill compliments about Hamlet and how he led the charge that started the battle. Feste is most interested in this detail and can not wait to set up the stage.
Back in the town Othello and Juliet are preparing their things for departure. They don’t want to draw any more attention on the town and have decided to leave. The leader of the town, Nerissa, asks them to stay because of the play and the celebration of the town’s victory. Juliet asks Hamlet if they should stay and he responds with, “As her Ladyship wishes.” Being that its Juliet’s choice, she picks to spend one more night in the town. As the celebration starts Hamlet is approached by the beautiful woman that he rushed out to save in the battle the day prior. She asks him to dance to which he replies that he doesn’t know how to, but as the girl turns to leave disappointed yet again Hamlet asks for her to teach him. Juliet looks on not with a jealous eye, but with a bit of heart-ache.
The play starts and Feste calls for Juliet to come play a role on stage. She declines and sends Hamlet in her place. They dress him in an exaggerated costume and ridiculous mask and Hamlet does his best to act in the play he’s never even seen before. As the play continues though it becomes increasingly similar to Hamlet’s own life, but instead of playing himself he is his Uncle. Hamlet asks how they know such details about him and storms off the stage. Feste calls Hamlet the Shadow King in front of the crowd which instantly sets them off. Juliet chases after Hamlet, clearly showing her interest in him.
This issue takes a much needed break from the story and building the world in which Hamlet finds himself. Everything has become a bit more familiar to him and the reader by now, so the writers take a break from the plot by building on the characters. What’s amazing is that they work within the characters actual back ground. They don’t change the core of the character and what makes them as memorable as they are. Instead they take those building blocks and continue to work upon them. Hamlet’s pain and struggles feel real. Juliet’s heartbreak and passion for change are the same way too.
Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col have taken a world of fictional characters that don’t belong together and not only made it work, but made it feel like a real world. At times the book reads so real that it doesn’t even feel like fiction and that’s so much fun to read. To get so sucked into a world and its characters that you forget that they are the creation of someone else’s mind. Of course in this case they’re creations of someone else’s mind that they are being manipulating. The main thing to take away from the writing of this issue is that if you’re going to do long conversations in a comic, do it like this issue. It was heartfelt, real and true to the original material, but most importantly it was visually interesting too.
The art actually switches in this issue and upon first glance I wasn’t impressed at all. The setting looked the same, but the characters instantly looked different and it was very off putting at first. Then as the story went on the art became better and better. Andy Belanger’s storytelling style is simple yet full of complex emotions. He’s able to convey the feelings and thoughts of characters without dialog by just showing it. The scene in which Juliet gazes at Hamlet is very powerful because it’s not jealousy that she’s looking at him with. She looks like a person that was afraid to open her heart to someone in fear that she would be hurt, but missed her opportunity to show it. Belanger’s style during the long conversation between Hamlet and Juliet is full of emotions. Their words say one thing, but the pictures show another. It’s so subtle that you absorb it while reading without having someone point it out to you.
I thought that the first volume of Kill Shakespeare was very good (you could say the least), but this issue stopped me from reading comics for an entire day while I just absorbed what I had read. That’s not something that happens often, when a book is so good that you want to stay in the moment from just having finished it. But that’s what this issue did to me. It pains me that I missed out on this book last year when I had a chance to buy it from the beginning. Because of that I highly recommend the first volume to read and this issue as well. Do not start on this issue though because as I said you will be cheating yourself from a comic with a huge amount of character development and true emotion.
Overall Score – 10/10