I recently installed the Comixology app on my iPad, which allows me to download and read digital versions of comics. I do not claim to be knowledgeable about comics, but I enjoy reading them on occasion. Anyway, I started browsing through the free comics and came across Kill Shakespeare. Comics and Shakespeare – how could I go wrong?
There are 12 issues in the series and the first two are free (good way to hook you in). I downloaded the two freebies and figured I would give it a shot. After reading the first issue, I am sure I will be purchasing the last ten.
The story begins with Hamlet being banished to England, with the twist of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exposing Claudius’ plot to have Hamlet killed and swearing allegiance to Hamlet. After getting tossed overboard in a fight with pirates, Hamlet washes ashore and is rescued by Richard III. Richard, along with the three witches (a la Macbeth), convince Hamlet to seek out the wizard William Shakespeare with the goal of stealing his quill, an object of mystical power. In return for Hamlet’s assistance, Richard and the witches promise to restore Hamlet’s father to life. That is where Issue #1 leaves off.
At first, I had difficulty accepting the liberties taken with the characters. Really–Rosencrantz and Guildenstern siding with Hamlet? But as soon as I was able to let go of my preconceived notions of the characters, the story began to work for me, particularly since there were some great lines woven into the story. An example of this is when a malevolent spirit appears to Hamlet and tells him: “Thou art the one who shall pass into the forbidden place. Thou art the one who shall tread upon the globe’s floor.” I love that the writer tied in an allusion to the Globe Theater.
As far as the artwork goes, I found it great. The panels shift from dull and gloomy where appropriate, to vivid and colorful during scenes of vibrant fantasy. The characters are also very lifelike and not stiff at all.
If you are a Shakespeare buff like I am, and you also enjoy a graphic novel or comic on occasion, then you will want to check out this comic. Personally, I am eager to get on with the next issue. I’m curious to see how other Shakespearean characters are tied into the story. I’ll be sure to let you know my thoughts on the subsequent installments.