Saturday, January 14, 2012

Finding Shakespeare

Hamlet finally meets his maker in The Blast of War, Volume 2 of Kill Shakespeare (collecting issues 7–12).

The first volume, A Sea of Troubles, set the stage, bringing to life the premise that Shakespeare's creations have taken on a life of their own and are grappling with some metaphysical complexities. Are they bound by Shakespeare's quill (and what exactly is the nature of that bond), or is their will entirely free (and if so, where does that leave Shakespeare)? The plot is a question of resolving the balance of power — the bloodlustiness of Lady Macbeth and her demonic minions and the treachery of Richard III on the one hand, with Juliet, Othello, and Hamlet leading a kind of uprising against a meaningless existence on the other, essentially in defense of Shakespeare's honour.

This second volume see these factions do battle in an ultimate confrontation. But it's not all war. I was swept up in the love story: Romeo is alive after all. Will Juliet go back to him, or will she move forward with Hamlet?

Shakespeare turns out to be an alcoholic recluse wallowing in his own existential crisis. Hamlet has searched him out.

"Amazing. These people believe you their creator and yet thou art merely a drunkard. They deserve better. For this ale-soaked form deserves not my pity, nor even my scorn."

"Careful, Prince. I was not asked to be their — or your — maker. But know this: I most assuredly can unmake thee."

While the first volume stands for the novelty of its premise, I enjoyed the sequel even more for the strength of its story.

The video clip that follows features an interview with Kill Shakespeare's creators. It provides some insight on what went into its making, but it also gives you a taste of the story and the wonderful artwork.



There's some talk of adapting this work for film. Personally, I'd love to see this turned into a TV series: the Kill Shakespeare universe is wide open for countless potential adventures.

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I read this back in early December, but for various reasons haven't had the opportunity to post about it (or spend much time on the Internet at all) till now. It's a happy coincidence that since then, I've read David Snodin's Iago, another extrapolation of the life of a Shakespearean character beyond Bill's script (I'll write more about this novel later). It certainly complemented my reading of the comic, giving me a fuller appreciation of Iago — a character I know very little about (I've never read or seen Othello) — and how he fits among the villains in Shakespeare's world, and helped keep this comic book alive in my mind.

This to say: you don't need to know any Shakespeare at all to enjoy Kill Shakespeare, but (as with anything, I guess) the more you know, the richer it is.
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