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Review: Kings Watch #1

20130913-102047.jpgIn an ode to 1930s pulp strips, Dynamite‘s latest five-issue miniseries brings together a trio of non-super superheroes  (The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and Flash Gordon) in an epic quest to save the world. It has been nearly 30 years since their last reunion in the 1986 animated series Defenders of the Earth. This time, these unlikely heroes must join forces against nightmares-turned-reality as experienced by millions of people across the globe.

Writer Jeff Parker has huge shoes to fill. They say Lee Falk, creator of Phantom and Mandrake, ripped off his oxygen mask in his final days to dictate his last comic scripts to his wife Elizabeth to finish. Falk maintained that creator-owned passion of his pulp heroes for over six decades. As a first issue, Parker hasn’t fleshed out enough of the characters or story for me to judge whether the torch has been appropriately carried on. All three protagonists are in different locales, facing different sets of problems. From the outset though, it looks he’ll bring them together in epic fashion.

The handful of questionable artistic decisions within the story are quickly overlooked by illustrator Marc Laming‘s phenomenal cover and title logo. Like the unmistakable f, t, and g+ of the world’s social media titans, Laming’s skull, eye, and lightning bolt in the title make a fantastic brand for the series.

That being said, there were a couple panels in the Phantom’s jungle battle that bothered me. The first was a close up shot of the creature’s eye being impaled by our purple hero’s sword.  The small size of the weapon was so disproportionate to the dinosaur, as drawn in previous panels, that it completely threw me off guard. A page later, I was again taken aback when he drew the Phantom running across an elephant’s trunk. While it pays homage to the heydays of our pulp hero, the absurdity of it ruined the seriousness of that scene.

While I personally feel Dynamite Comics made a great choice in bringing this team back as a miniseries, after reading that they sold out the 10,000+ print run on the first day of release, I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing them regularly. Die hard fans can rejoice, their comic strip pulp trio is back.

Story: Jeff Parker Art: Marc Laming
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review