Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Royals Masters of War by Vertigo Comics issues 1 to 3 - review

This is a six issue mini-series from DC's Vertigo imprint art by Simon Coleby written by Rob Williams with variant covers by Brian Bolland.

The basic premise of the story is that in the build up to world war two the main royal families of the world are different. Not just in terms of social standing but in that they have superpowers. The purer the royal bloodline the more powerful the royal family member.

There is however a treaty in place that prevents the royals from intervening in armed military conflicts for fear or unbalancing them. So the war is progressing pretty much as we know in out history. In other words in the early days of the war it isn't going so well for the allies.

Seeing the disastrous consequences of the London Blitz, younger royal prince : Henry (who has a slightly dubious relationship with his psychic younger sister Rose and awful sibling rivalry with his debauched and more powerful older brother Arthur) can no longer restrain himself or his powers and launches into an attack on the German Luftwaffe effectively 'winning' the Battle of Britain in the process.

The six issues will follow wartime events and so far by issue three we are at the Battle of Midway as Harry and Arthur have been seconded to the Pacific theatre of the war by Winston Churchill and are tracking the Japanese flagship around Midway. There's a problem here though - remember that I said the purer the royal bloodline, the more powerful the royal - well the Japanese royal family have the purest line of all and this means that Emperor Jimmu of Japan is about to create a very bloody conflict.

The books, so far are doing an excellent job of creating believable characters and a situation that whilst not realistic doesn't denigrate the historical era or those who gave their lives fighting. In fact the theme of the books seems to be to highlight the sometimes peripheral role that some of the royals, like Arthur are having. Further, their involvement is almost exclusively negative - look at (spoilers) the hideous murder that Arthur commits when his choice of bed partner is questioned by one of the non-powered American 'super team' : the Allies.

One character quips there will have to be consequences for Arthurs actions ..  "but not yet" as they suit up to go off on their next mission. One gets the feeling that there will be quite nasty consequences for some of the super royals as the book draws to the end of its run.

So an excellent rounded book with characterisation, drama, suspense and a goodly dose of massive powered action (sic the smashing of a Destroyer into the allied Aircraft Carrier by Jimmu at the end of issue 3). Brilliantly drawn with an easy comic book style that never descends into sub Michael Bay transformers images. Reminds me in some ways of the classic Zenith strip from 2000AD drawn by Steve Yeowell.

Defintely worth a download, especially when it comes to trade at the end of its run in Autumn.

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