Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artwork: Mirko Colak, Maria Santaolalla (colours)
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Release Date: 9th August 2017
“I have faith in the hubris of man.”
After a strong opening issue, Cullen Bunn and Mirko Colak’s twisted reimagining of the legend of King Arthur continues this week, delving into the past as we get to watch the construction of the doomed castle of Camelot.
Once again, Bunn takes great pleasure in subverting the notes of the story that we’re all familiar with, replacing Merlin with a malevolent demon who wants nothing more than to orchestrate chaos and toy with the fabric of humanity. During the flashback sequences which bookend the issue, we get to see the adult Arthur at his most naive, blindly following the world of his advisor in spite of his own apparent nagging doubts.
The middle portion of the issue takes us back in time even further, focusing on Merlin’s frantic and violent search for the infant Arthur, leaving a trail of mutilated bodies in his wake. It also features another wonderful subversion of established Arthurian legend, with Bunn providing a fantastic twist on the origins of the fabled ‘Sword in the Stone’.
As strong as Bunn’s narrative is, however, Colak more than keeps pace with some truly emphatic visuals, packed with detail and flashes of supernatural grandeur. The aforementioned ‘Sword in the Stone’ scene is particularly striking, with colourist Maria Santaolalla adding to the sinister aesthetic with an ominous green glow throughout.
As with the first issue, the pace is kept intentionally restrained, with neither Bunn nor Colak apparently in any hurry to reveal too much too soon. The differing time zones could potentially feel a little confusing, as we’re continually hopping around to different points in Arthur’s life, but Bunn manages to keep everything flowing smoothly for the most part, handling the much-needed exposition with a suitably deft hand.
This is a beautifully written issue, both in terms of dialogue and narration, and the artwork truly shines during the more supernatural beats of the story. As I mentioned in my review of the first issue, the legend of King Arthur is a story that has been flogged to death over the years, but this subtle tweak to the established mythos has given it a new lease of life, and I genuinely can’t wait to read more of this bleak, twisted tale.
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