The interesting thing about this comic is that it doesn’t work on formula. It has yielded many successes and failures throughout its run, but it rarely repeats them as it constantly strives to work at being something new. It is going to be interesting to go back and read this run upon completion and feel the varied tone employed, much like Shakespeare himself defied definition.
We are right in the middle of a war between Hamlet and Richard the III’s men. The prize is the life of their creator and god, William Shakespeare, yet this issue is very light-hearted in tone. It grabs your attention purely because it’s something different and yet it keeps with everything that has come before. We have seen skirmishes and tiny battles; We know what these characters face in the lead up to the finale is grim war and certain death for some. It’s nice to get last issue which gave us two characters and love, and this issue brings us more brotherhood.
I have previously discussed my problems with the use of Othello in this comic. He isn’t acting or feeling like the Othello I want, and this comic reveals why. We get a deep and inquisitive look into the powerful Moor and it raises some complex existential questions. High school students would do well to have pen in hand because they might get some explanations here that they just didn’t understand when their teacher broached the subject. There is thought put into these characters and why they are doing what they’re doing.
This series has a glut of characters at their immediate disposal, and each character can be mildly tweaked or extended to suit the purposes needed. This is a helpful tool, but also a burden. Continuity and interactivity were always going to be studied hard, so they have to earn their use of anything. The intellect of this comic shines through by watching how and when characters are employed. They aren’t thrown in together without thought, this is a defined and considered recipe slowly pieced together for maximum impact. The final page reveal is both shocking but also a great set up for things to come.
Andy Belanger only gets stronger as the series continues. In this issue, he shows a dramatic fight scene that also doubles as a literature lesson and works well as visuals for it. Later on, he puts together a very romantic montage that was reminiscent of a similar scene in Brandon and Klein’s “Viking” but this one ends with what must be considered the kiss of the year, if there were an Eisner in such a category.
“Kill Shakespeare” is a smart comic that knows how to be fun, and vice versa. Here we get plenty of preparation for the coming troubles but our characters are given a last moment to breathe and enjoy the company of one another. It would be even sweeter if we didn’t know that Shakespeare is inherently a tragic writer and so this will all come tumbling down, and it will be glorious as it happens, of that I am sure.