Think most superhero comics these days are insipid and derivative? The vaccine just might be a good dose of some old school heroes with a revitalized story to make them cool again. Kings Watch #2 is here, and it gives us a tasty amount of Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Flash Gordon. Is it good?
Kings Watch #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Issue #1 was a real winner. Don’t believe us? Check the review here.
Last issue the threat to the planet was made obvious to everyone because it’s bringing nightmares to nearly everybody on the planet. It seems the Kings Watch might be the only thing that stands in its way. Who is the Kings Watch? The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and Flash Gordon are destined to be this team and this story arc seems to be the calling together of these heroes for the first time. What’s interesting about this team is that beyond Mandrake’s magical powers, these are very pulpy, human heroes with physical and mental abilities that aren’t so far off from average people. That’s cool in my book, particularly because superheroes take up most of the comic book market.
What a hero!
This issue moves a few of the chess pieces around as far as our heroes are concerned. A big part of last issue was where entities of power were residing and how/if the bad guys and good guys alike were moving in those directions. Two pieces of the Kings Watch come together for the first time, as well. The strongest element, though, is seeing Flash Gordon chit chat with protagonist Dale, a female reporter who helps immerse the audience in the story; she’s just as clueless as we are.
Anyone familiar with Flash Gordon should remember these guys.
Writer Jeff Parker has a lot of exposition to get through but manages to balance that out with interesting dynamics, like bad guy Cobra reviewing what’s up with his sexy second in command, or Phantom dealing with some locals. It creates a sense that this world is lived in and filled with mystery. When the comic actually gets to the major event — a battle between Cobra and Flash — you’ll wonder how Parker has fit so much into this issue. This battle is fun — sort of like Indiana Jones with just enough Flash ego to make it pop.
The art by Marc Laming continues to be a solid rock in this work, always well rendered and grounded. There’s a lot of talking in this comic, but you won’t even notice because he has a way of giving us a good balance of mid level-shots and closeups to keep us focused on the emotions and events as they transpire. Books like this require a deft hand in that regard or they’ll become less comic and more novel, which kills the pace and creates a boring vacuum you can’t escape.
The dry humor is a nice touch; “I sometimes ride a horse” got a laugh out of me.
- Art suits the story nicely
- Great balance of exposition and plot development
- The inking is a little dark, almost too much at times
Is It Good?
Second 9.0 in a row for this series means yes indeedy. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite ongoing series due to its balance, real life heroes and compelling threat. This is strong comic writing with solid art that you shouldn’t pass up.