“Kill Shakespeare” has played out, so far, with an absent and possibly omnipotent bard. This issue finally ushers the maker of these characters onto the stage to share the limelight. It’s a moment that’s been built up and must be nailed in this massive reveal. Thankfully, seeing Shakespeare is interesting and adds an extra layer to this already layered tale.
The majority of this issue is about Hamlet confronting Shakespeare. It’s a sequence that shows us this isn’t the bard you’re used to seeing. This Will is a self-centered and almost deranged hermit surrounded by only his papers and acting like maybe he wants to die. We don’t know the extent of his powers, and that mystery only makes him fill the page in a grander fashion. The interaction is mean and completely engaging. These men don’t need to overact, the lines do the hard work for them.
The masterful scene of confrontation is expertly intercut with the realization that Iago has sold the troupe out. The crosscutting between scenes makes the pace feel accelerated and tense. Lady Macbeth is coming and the final act is going to surely be soaked in blood. It’s fun watching the men beat on Iago but I want to see Othello work him over, which will surely come.
However, this issue features what is hands down one of my favorite moments in comics this year. I turned the page and literally gasped as Hamlet falls under the water to be attacked by monsters made of pages Shakespeare has discarded. These monsters look like nothing I’ve ever seen before and Belanger fills the page with panels that only accentuate the dread and fear Hamlet feels in these murky and slimy depths.
It’s a pleasure to read a comic where the artist is an active participant in how the story is told and how the pages are constructed. Belanger is still looking for every page he can use to test out something new, and he succeeds with every try.
“Kill Shakespeare” is winding into its last act and all the pieces set into play look to make the last two issues one hell of a ride. People are going to die (and that means good sales, right?) but they’re going to go out in service to a story that has been quality all the way and with art that pleases in so many ways. This issue brings us the maker of this world, and shows us what a false idol he is. So what is there left to live for and defend?