“Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
(Julius Caesar, 1.2.146), Cassius to Brutus
How do you take the works of someone (a group of someones) who is so respected that centuries later those works are still being done as staple of an industry?
Simple, you take ‘em and run with ‘em, and let the controversy stoke the fire of your sales. Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col certainly had their fair share of detractors when they took the works of Shakespeare and plopped it all in the same universe, ala Fables with fairy tales, and let it all sort itself out.
Ultimately, after an initial twelve-issue run, it’s all shifted out to leave Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, and Romeo as our intrepid heroes. And don’t think just because you’re familiar with the characters that you know how Romeo and Juliet have shaken out. Oh no, read the initial Kill Shakespeare run for that!
Not to say that we don’t dive right into the sordid woes of this no-longer-as-young Romeo. The character work, and use of language from the two-man writing team of Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col establishes these characters in a familiar place, while also giving them a characterization all their own. These are the Kill characters, and no longer simply cast members of the classics. It’s wonderful to see how they’ve grown past their traditional confines.
An aside: as an actor I love working in theatre, but I hate that generation after generation we’ve been unable to shake Shakespeare and instead try something new. Certainly he lends a beautiful language and excellent structure to the proceedings, important lessons one and all, but there's got to be something more. He’s simply the easy-money playwright, which you can either do straight or play around with the staging of, but he’s a community crutch. So, yay for the evolution of characters and relationships that have in their own way become cliché decades ago.
It’s such a rich mythology to play with, if taken as a collective universe, and with Andy Belanger’s artwork, it’s a lot of fun to see as well. You can sense that Andy is relishing getting to play with the time and the place, and the magic of this Shakespearean age. He’s a strong storyteller, bringing strong pacing choices to the poetic language and bursts of action in and amongst the politics, bawdy moments, and conversations surrounding cocks (you know, roosters) that have the ol’ Shakespearian subtlety.
The ending brings the kind of foreboding that, if you’re familiar with The Tempest, kinda makes you think that the old man didn’t leave his books to the sea, but instead worked even further on his art.
Also, it should be noted that February 23rd, the fine creative team behind this book will be signing all sorts of shtuff at Silver Snail! So stop in and say hello to them! Oh, and make sure to get the Snail staff to sign the exclusive Snail cover as well that they all appear on!
They’ll no doubt dig being bugged about it.