Kill Shakespeare – Past is Prologue: Juliet #1
Conor McCreery (w) • Corin Howell (a) • Simon Davis (c)
Juliet Lives! The newest chapter of the award-winning Kill Shakespeare series flashes back to five months after the death of Romeo, where Juliet is mourning yet another loved one – her mother. Now Juliet must discover who the murderer is, lest she becomes the next victim. New series artist Corin Howell (Transformers, The Mighty Zodiac, X-Files: Scully) takes the reins in a tale perfect for new readers to the series.
The latest story in the Kill Shakespeare line finds poor Juliet alive and well after losing her dear Romeo, and dealing with the loss rather poorly. Wracked by rage and guilt, what she needs more than anything is focus in her life, to take her mind off the tragedy and to give her new goals to work for. As luck would have, that’s something she’ll find by issue’s end, though perhaps not in the shape she would have hoped for.
I’ve often wondered why the Kill Shakespeare books weren’t more popular than they are. They’re really a fine mix of modern comic books and Shakespearean story-telling. The language of his plays is portrayed throughout, and while the characters may not exact copies, I think each of their spirits is captured perfectly well. While I’m certainly not comparing the writing talent directly to the Bard’s, I think he’d be proud. His characters live on in a new world, accessible to huge new audiences, and still dealing with the same themes he was so well known for.
And while the artwork may be the weakest link, that’s not saying much negative about it. It tends to be a tad sketchy, and it’s not as bright as I’d like, but it is always crisp and clear, which is what is most important in a comic. There’s emotions aplenty in the faces of the characters, and every panel has a sense of movement that really makes things come alive. I think the worst thing that could be said about it is that perhaps it approaches melodrama too often. Of course, even this befits a new Shakespeare, as plays were just the place to overact to reach the audience. Faithful, even in potential flaws. You have to respect that.
There’s a whole lot of Kill Shakespeare to read, so many may feel it’s too late to hop on board. I feel that is simply not the case. Perhaps you won’t be in tune with every nuance or aside, but the chances are great that you’ll get the gist of it all. Practically every one I’ve ever met is familiar with the name of Juliet, so it’s rare indeed to find a new reader who has NO idea of what’s going on. And this story reads well with little more than knowledge of the events of Verona.
I admit I often accuse superheroes for getting all the attention, and here’s a great opportunity to do something about this. This is an easy book to pick up and enjoy, without having to track down a hundreds missed issues or worrying about a dozen crossovers. There’s well known, solid characters, there’s a conflict you’ve AT LEAST heard of, and the writing is solid, skillful, and entertaining. The only excuse for not picking up Juliet today is that you want to wait for the trade paperback. But still, you’re missing out until then.