Review – The Royals: Masters of War #1 (Vertigo)
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Coleby
Release Date: 12th February 2014
‘The Royals’ has a pretty interesting premise: The royal families across the world all have super powers. The purer the bloodline, the more powerful the individual.
It’s honestly not too exciting until you read the first issue and get a little more in-depth. Said royal families are part of a treaty where they don’t get involved in the conflict of commoners, but when World War II rolls around, young Prince Henry gets other ideas, and the proverbial sh*t hits the fan.
In this first issue, writer Rob Williams doesn’t go balls-out with the superpowers, but instead depicts Royals as selfish layabouts who would rather be waited on than get involved in any sort of war. The underlying theme here – and possibly what will make this series brilliant – is the idea that the real reason for their complacency is because they understand the implications if super-humans get involved in international conflict. This isn’t Avengers vs. X-Men, where nobody outside of the New York superhero community really cares. Only the royal families have powers, and by the end of this issue, a global Superhero war is literally about to break out.
‘The Royals’ gets us to that point pretty quickly, and although some of the back-story feels slightly crow-barred into on page, overall the pacing doesn’t feel forced. Henry only needs to witness one London bombing to make his decision. This feels entirely believable, and helps to get the story rolling without rushing things. There are other characters in the British Royal Family to be further explored, but there is room for that, and if this first issue is anything to go by, pacing will not be a problem for Rob Williams as things play out.
As for the look of the book, there is a very ‘Vertigo’ feel to Simon Coleby’s artwork, and I mean that in a very good way. Everything from the simple layouts to the character design, even down to the use of shading gives ‘The Royals’ a very grown-up feel, and some of the aerial scenes actually brought to mind some of Ian Kennedy’s fantastic cover art from various ‘Commando’ comics. Perhaps not Coleby’s intention, but something this reviewer appreciated nonetheless.
Going forward, I’m really keen to see what this series has in store. Based on what is being teased, ‘The Royals’ looks like it could get very interesting. Superheroes have been done to death, and will always feel slightly derivative, but it’s good to see creators do a slightly different take on the genre, instead of shying away from it as many do these days. This issue handles its original characters and premise well, and is a strong debut for a potentially very strong miniseries.
The writer of this piece was: Alan Shields aka (Al)
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