A lot of characters die in this issue, since most of it depicts the battle between the rebels and the combined armies of King Richard and Lady Macbeth. But the earlier section has Shakespeare, who is an archetypal man-god, turning his back on those who follow him. There is great dialog between him and Hamlet during this section.
Ham: But what of your children? What do I say to those who believed in thee? That their god lent neither hand nor quill?
Shak: Perhaps it is best to say that Shakespeare is dead… that he never existed.
What is really cool about this exchange is that it hints at the existential philosophies of Sartre and Nietzsche which questioned god’s existence. Personally, I always viewed Hamlet as an existential play. Let’s face it, “To be or not to be” is the ultimate existential question.
In the great battle scene, Falstaff is one of the characters who gets killed, which bummed me out a bit because I really liked him. In fact, I’d say he was my favorite character in the series. As he lay dying, Hamlet kneels beside him and says: “Stubborn clown, you steal my role.” What a great line! The archetypal comedic clown takes the place of the tragic hero and dies upon the stage of war. It’s awesome. As painful as it was for me to see Falstaff die, it was a stroke of genius on the part of the writers.
There are only two more issues left in the series, so I will be finishing and reviewing those in the next week.