With only one installment left in "Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night," Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col and Andy Belanger move the final pieces into place as Titus Andronicus' forces draw ever closer to the Boreas. They see Juliet and Cesario hatch a daring plan in a bid to save their respective crews, upping the stakes for what promises to be a thrilling conclusion. "Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night" #3 gives the voices back to our main players by paralleling Viola and Cesario with Hamlet and Juliet, providing some of the series' most genuinely suspenseful moments.
Where the first two issues worked to set up the continuously wonderful dynamic between Viola and Cesario, McCreery and Del Col return to Juliet and Hamlet here in full force in a tense exchange between two of them in the ship's hold. After drawing the tension out for two issues, this release comes as a relief. Although the scene feels a little gray overall, Hamlet -- for all his hurt -- certainly doesn't come across as morally justified through his word choice and tone, harkening back to his less-than-heroic origins. In this way, McCreery and Del Col reinforce his development as a flawed character. What's more, Juliet finally gets a chance to speak without getting cut off by the other characters. McCreery and Del Col return her agency to her through her subsequent actions, but only after she has a moment to reflect on her own emotions and reveal them to Hamlet. This character moment is pinnacle for its motivation of the subsequent action, speeding readers toward the gut wrenching final moments of the issue.
Hamlet and Juliet are not the only characters to have a last moment on board the Boreas; Viola and Cesario, too, have a fantastic if bloody parting exchange. Stripped of his mask, Cesario feels almost naked, exposed, and raw, dropping his flamboyant persona for this tense moment. Their back-and-forth tackles some hefty concepts, such as idealism verses their reality, without sounding lofty or grandiose, as the situation calls for a conversation with such gravitas. Although this shared moment is fantastically written and effective, the reveal of Cesario's face feels slightly lacking. With all of the set up towards the reveal, the previous issues seemed to build something much more startling.
Andy Belanger continues to bring his phenomenal touch to the series, not the least of which could be found in his character design. His choices for Titus Andronicus' crew visually mark a whole slew of characters as the primary antagonists, embellishing their armor with spikes, and adds a Roman flare as a nice homage to the source material. Additionally, he carefully crafts the uneasy atmosphere on the shift through excellent use of perspective and subtle shifts in expression; further, colorist Shari Chankhamma skews the tone darker during these scenes, further emphasizing the morally gray waters that the characters are treading in her stellar shadowing. His opening shot -- an intense close up of a raven's eye -- thoughtfully parallels the first issue, foreshadowing the issue's dramatic close while contributing to the search motif at the issue's start.
"Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night" #3 is another solid installment in "The Mask of Night's" fantastic run. Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col and Andy Belanger turn up the adrenaline through equal parts action and character development.