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Knight and Squire #3 | Comic Reviews | Nerdy Nothings

Knight and Squire #3

Knight and Squire 3


Knight and Squire is a series I very much want to like. I’m sure by now everyone’s familiar with my positive feelings towards Paul Cornell, who truly is my favorite comic writer I’ve discovered this year. Mix in a couple characters that I’ve become familiar with through awesome stories by Grant Morrison, add some of that noted British wit and, well, how could picking this book up be a bad decision?

But then I think about the British Office. See, I don’t like the British Office. I’ve tried to watch it many times and it just doesn’t work for me. I find it too dry, as though all traces of laughter have been sucked out and replaced by a hum of awkward chuckling so low-pitched that only dogs and Kryptonians can hear it. I’m sorry, but I’ll take Michael Scott over David Brent eight days a week. I guess I just feel like I’m always missing something.

And that brings me back to Knight and Squire. I can’t help but feel like there’s some key that would really make this series click for me, but for whatever reason it’s just outside my grasp. I suspect there’s a bit of a cultural barrier in play – Knight and Squire is very clearly a British comic — and I also think there’s something just a little off about my personal sensibilities that stops me from totally “getting it.”

Knight and Squire #3 helps me figure things out, though, because this was literally the issue I bought into the series for. When I first heard the comic announced at last year’s Comic Con, it was mentioned that there’d be a story in which resurrected English monarchs would attempt to take over the world through social networking websites. That sounded too good to pass up, and after many months of waiting the comic-reading public can now see what that story’s all about.

So here’s what happens: the British version of S.T.A.R. Labs, C.O.R. (her Council for Organised Research), comes up with a way to bring back the dead using only their DNA. They first employ the process publicly on Richard III, whom they argue was “most defamed and ill-treated” as a villain by Shakespeare. Of course as soon as Richard’s back he wants to be king again, and he mounts his campaign mostly by using Twitter to become super-popular. He also brings back several other deceased monarchs and gives them super powers (my favorite: the decapitated Charles I, whose head is replaced with several rocket launchers). It’s up to the Knight and Squire to bring Richard down by beating him at his own game: YouTube!

Doesn’t this comic just sound tremendous? And really, there’s a whole lot to like about it. Cornell does an excellent job with Richard’s dialog, using not only some of his famous lines from Shakespeare but also aping the Bard’s dramatic staging, so that throughout the course of this comic Richard delivers soliloquies and asides and speaks in iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets. Cornell also cleverly introduces the idea of a British rock group called The Muses made up of actual Muses, one of whom goes on a couple dates with the Knight so… that’s something. Besides that, I wasn’t sure about it at first but I’ve very much warmed to Jimmy Broxton’s art; I think his lighter touch is precisely what this series needs to convey its desired tone.

Still, there’s something that feels off about this comic. And the more I think about it, the more I think the problem lies with me. My initial reaction is to blame pacing, which  throughout this series has been a little uneven (the first issue, for example, was basically all exposition). But that could be my American Super Hero Comic programming talking. When I heard Knight and Squire was going to be a six-issue miniseries, I instantly assumed each issue would be part of a larger, connected, and mega-serious story. Instead, Cornell has made each book essentially self-contained beyond basic world-building elements. At times that makes the issues feel a little rushed. Another way I’ve described it before is that the series feels “inconsequential.”

But I want to go back to the Office again. See, I’m starting to think Paul Cornell is writing a sitcom (Britcom?) and I just haven’t noticed. What we have in Knight and Squire is a six-installment series packed with farcical happenings and witty jokes. That sure sounds like a season of a British comedy show to me. And actually, I’m a big proponent of the comic medium taking less cues from movies and more from television. Here Cornell’s been doing it right under my nose, and I missed it. And he’s a TV writer, for God’s sake!

I think that’s the key to Knight and Squire. It’s Absolutely Fabulous (or Coupling, or even The Office) with superheroes. If you like, it’s Adam West meets the Britcom with a dash of English literature thrown in. It’s a read unlike anything else on the stands right now, and I highly recommend you pick up this issue.

tags: jimmy broxton, knight and squire, paul cornell

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