Kill Shakespeare Volume 1: Well this is certainly different!

Kill Shakespeare, Vol. 1 - Andy Belanger, Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery

If you like the Fables Graphic Novel series and the Bard's work itself, I suggest you try this book. It is certainly original and had my mind scurrying as I took in all the possibilities the idea opened up.

 

And what an idea! We start with our old friend Hamlet, cast from his homeland after the accidental murder of Polonius. He leaves with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern only to get attacked by pirates - all as readers of the play know. Things begin to get interesting though when Hamlet washes ashore and wakes up in Richard the Third's castle!

 

From the Witches of Macbeth, we learn Hamlet is a prophesied hero called the "Shadow King". He will free these people, even his father supposedly, from the evil Shakespeare, who has control over their lives - by killing him and taking his quill! Richard wants the quill for himself...why does this make me worried?

 

All is not as it seems in this world, though. We also meet the resistance against Richard, who are waiting for the Shadow King to bring "Will" back. They swear by him even: "By Will!", "For Will's sake", etc. This is a battle between the heroes and villains of the plays with other characters regularly turning up. We've yet to see Shakespeare but his name and spirit seem to permeate every part of this story. We also get to see the people we love and those we hate: Juliet, Othello, Falstaff, Iago, Lady Macbeth, and many more.

 

There are some issues with this though. One is that there are images here that are far more graphic then I tend to like to read. One man has his eyes plucked out (I think he's a Shakespeare character, but I don't remember his name) and they show his face afterwards. There are a couple other moments like this but I could mostly ignore those or gloss over them. The second issue is that for most of the volume the main character has no idea what's going on, so neither do we. As the story unfolds, we do get the benefit of seeing the goings on of the evil side, but everything does come at you rather piecemeal. It keeps you guessing and for most of the book, you're not really sure what's going on. There are still many questions and not a lot of answers. The third issue was something that only occurred to me after I'd read it and moved on. Hamlet is not terribly interesting for most of the story. It is the story itself that is so mesmerizing and yes, he and some of the others do rather get overshadowed.

 

For all that though, I really want to know what happens next. I'm not sure where this series will lead, but I'm ready to continue the journey.