The characters and minions of Shakespeare have nearly torn their reality apart looking for their deity, the Bard. It's been a long and arduous trek, and they finally have him. What now? It seems the tale isn't over until heads roll and a victor is found to wield the quill from which all power stems. It's been a mighty quest and the end is in sight, but never quite over.
Leadership struggles define both sides of this war. Richard the III stays true to character and subjugates Lady Macbeth. Hamlet convinces Shakespeare to lead his soldiers into the final battle. This is a preparation for an end game, the troops rallied, the finale ahead. Shakespeare's speech to Hamlet and his merry band is grand and Andy Belanger does a great job making it work across a double splash of panels. This is a cinematic moment and the level of awe and thirst for blood drips off the page.
For all the talk of battle, this title still excels at the little moments. Hamlet letting go of Juliet to set her up with the returned Romeo works simply in silhouette. It's a sweet scene and not overly written. It's both what you want to see and what you know will break your heart a little. Shakespeare meeting Othello is a surprising moment but one that makes you smile. It's the sort of thing this title was made to do and should do well. Creator meeting creation borders on the silly but it also warms the heart.
With everything set up, this book does something you do not see coming: it becomes very metal and the new tone is shocking. There have been some creepy and imaginative visuals in the past, but Shakespeare's multi-eyed soldier takes this book in a sudden and jarring direction. It's a twist, and one not all will like, but it certainly provides a rich backdrop on which to paint this finale. You won't be predicting what's happening in this third act and so we should get something here that is completely new.
Belanger gets to cut loose not just with battle scenes like last issue, but also on some intense imagery that show this world is either breaking down or finally showing its full potential. If the last issue was out and out "Zeppelin III" then this one is a far more experimental sound.
The title is wrapping up and two great showdowns present themselves on the final pages. The question for now is, how far has this book come since the initial premise? Will that shift alienate fans? Considering this book uses the central world of a writer who was as adept at writing kings as he was fauns and ghosts, perhaps we shouldn't judge too quickly. This hasn't jumped the shark, but is the tank and toothy predator part of the set dressing? Tune in next month to find all your answers. Kings will battle and the quill and the sword shall duel.