Thursday, 12 June 2014

Kings Watch Volume 1 Review (Jeff Parker, Marc Laming)


Ohhhh, this one hurts!

Jeff Parker is one of my favourite new writers thanks to his Bat-tastic work on Batman ’66, so it’s super-disappointing to discover that his King’s Watch series for Dynamite completely stinks.

How’s this for the world’s worst “superhero” team: Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and the Phantom? They have to team up for some reason to defeat Ming the Merciless from opening a portal on Earth and sending through his useless animal/man armies to conquer the planet.

Who is Flash Gordon? He’s just a man… with a man’s courage… no, I can’t sing that awesome song here! Seriously, Flash is just a dude SAVIOUR OF THE UNIVERSE!! and has no powers. What’s special about him? He starred in AH AHHH! a cult b-movie in the early ‘80s that had the best theme song ever. But as one third of a force to GORDON’S ALIVE?!?! repel an alien army on a global scale? Come on, he was a freakin’ quarterback!

The Phantom is a crappy version of Batman. He lives in a Skull Cave in Africa but he’s white?! He has stripey underpants and shoots guns. How does he fight Ming’s armies? With a pair of pistols! What’s special about these pistols? Nothing!

Mandrake, the cut price Doctor Strange, is the only one of the three who made any kind of sense. He can make illusions that fight, he can cast epic spells, and all kinds of useful things.

Together, they are the worst “superhero” team ever, even worse than New 52 Justice League of America – and those guys had Vibe!

These are the chaps who somehow manage to defeat millions of alien warriors?! Those fight scenes were so unconvincing, watching Flash tackle aliens football-style and Phantom firing his handguns, both totally open to be shot – they would’ve been killed in no time!

Why does Ming want to take over Earth? Because that’s what bad guys do. But the fact that he couldn’t do it because these three clowns stopped him makes him one of the most incompetent villains ever.

But maybe Parker’s being tongue in cheek like he was when he wrote Batman ’66, you say? Nope, King’s Watch was written totally straight. We’re actually supposed to believe these three saved the world!

Mark Laming’s art is pretty good – he’s got the range to draw characters as diverse as monster men from outer space, weird magical goings-on, big battle scenes, and is comfortable with urban and jungle backgrounds. It’s artwork that’s perfectly suited to mainstream hero comics.

King’s Watch is awful: the story is flat, boring and corny as hell, the writing is forgettable, none of the action is convincing, and the finale is rushed through in a handful of pages. And what was the King’s Watch again – did they even explain that? And how were everyone’s weird dreams at the start connected in any way to what happened in the second half of the book?

Man, this sucked! I loved your work on Batman ‘66, Jeff Parker, but King’s Watch was miles away from that high level of quality.

Kings Watch Volume 1

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