Or – “I Cannot Stand When Comics Are No Fun…”

The Major Spoilers credo thusly goes:
As thou love comics, we adore as well.
Though Wolverine and Deadpool may sell books,
when too exposed, each seems an empty shell.

Though Morrison is busy with the Bat,
a character revived by him returns.
And with adventures fanciful and neat,
The Knight fair washes ‘way life’s small concerns.

(Burma Shave.)

Knight And Squire #3

Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Jimmy Broxton
Colors by Guy Major
Letters by Swands
Published by DC Comics

Previously, on Knight and Squire:  Cyril Sheldrake started his career as The Squire, kid sidekick to his father, a member of the Batmen of All Nations, aka the Club of Heroes.  Much as Dick Grayson did, Cyril took up his mentor’s role after his death, and has even adopted a new sidekick in Beryl Hutchison, a young girl from a modest background who serves both as his liason to the commoners (her powers are ill-defined, but involved “communications”) and as a clever hero in her own right.  Previous issues have put the Knight in various iconic British situations, and have shown him to be strangely down-to-Earth for a member of the aristocracy, as well as a smart cookie.  Working out of his ancestral castle, the Knight and the Squire defend the British Isles from all manner of unpleasantness with a stiff upper lip and other Britishy things…  His life is about to take a turn for the strange in a very historical manner.

Our story opens in the laboratories of C.O.R. (the Council for Organized Research), sort of a British S.T.A.R. labs, where the scientific community, in the form of Professor Alice Merryweather, has succeeded in creating a process to rejunvenate dead tissue, cloning a new body for a dead person.  Her choice of resurrectee:  King Richard III, whom she believes has been unjustly defamed by Shakespeare’s portrayal of him.  Fabulously, Paul Cornell immediately has the nefarious King turn to us, the audience, and give a soliloquy on his evil intentions in RHYMING COUPLETS.  While the King schemes and becomes a celebrity, The Knight tries to figure out his plan, with the help of Beryl and his pop-star girlfriend (who shares the returning kings publicist.)  Richard murders Dr. Merryweather and revives other evil kings, including Edward I, Charles I, John and William II, given each super-powers and sending them out to attack the populace.  Each king has powers that reference his public notoriety, and the heroes of Britain mass together to stop them.

The Knight, astride his motorcycle/steed Anastasia meets Richard III in combat, while The Squire monitors the internet to see whose public profile has the most followers.  She uploads insulting videos to discredit each of the miniboss kings (a really clever bit of meta-statement) while The Knight tells Richard that his mother was a hamster, and his father smells of elderberries, metaphorically speaking.  One of Richard’s asides to his imaginary audience gets uploaded as well, and the Knight decks him one for good measure.  Beryl and The Shrike (the supervillain turned superhero from the wonderful issue #1) get a moment to flirt, and she promises to help Cyril with his own dating issues, re: the psychic singing sensation.  As with each issue, Cornell finishes up with a text page that explains the purely cultural references for those of us in the colonies, a page which has historically been nearly as much fun to read as the book itself, especially the revelation that the superheroic “Cidermen” (who look like Doctor Who’s villainous Cybermen) are actually quoting from Jon Pertwee-era episodes of ‘Who.’

This series has been joyous to read each month, with lovely art from Jimmy Broxton, and some truly beautiful couplets and plotting throughout.  Knight and Squire is like Batman used to be, back when he was allowed to be fun and have adventures rather than brooding and snarling and boinking Black Canary in a testosterone-fueled rage.  Paul Cornell’s work here is oh-so-veddy British, the kind of thing that Monty Python fans and Whovians across America should be reading, especially those who are into comics.  I’m saddened that this is only a miniseries, as I would happily pay for a Knight and Squire ongoing series, even if I had to suffer through the occasional Dark Knight crossover madness.  Knight and Squire #3 is just flat wonderful, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a book that I highly recommend to anyone who digs comic books  and the comic artform…

Rating: ★★★★½

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  What comics successfully balance “badass” and “fun” for you?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. tidge
    December 11, 2010 at 7:11 am — Reply

    On the basis of this review (and the spoilers about Richard III and Pertwee-era inspired soliloquy), I will be buying this book later today.

    As an aside: I suppose the next Squire’s civilian name will either be Ariel or Daryl?

  2. Damascus
    March 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm — Reply

    To answer your question, one comic that I thought did a great job balancing badass and fun was Agents of Atlas. When M-11 was taking down some bad guys and talking like Muhammed Ali and Ken realizes that the vocal/personality chip wasn’t actually working and that M-11 was just putting on the act for him. Part of that sequence was funny, and then he drops the voice and just decimates (I know it wasn’t probably literally 1/10th destruction) the enemies which was badass, but how he does it all for Ken too was a really engaging moment for me. I wish more comics were like Agents of Atlas.

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