Review: Kill Shakespeare Juliet #1

Kill Shakespeare: Juliet #1 is kind of an Elseworlds story set in a world where all of Shakespeare’s plays happened in a shared universe. (Most of them did happen in Italy so this kind of makes sense.) More specifically, it’s a world where Romeo died, and his lover Juliet lives on. There’s intrigue with King Lear and possibly Richard III too, but the intersection between Romeo and Juliet and Merchant of Venice gets the most attention from writer Conor McCreery, artist Corin Howell, and colorist Shari Chankahamma because Lady Capulet is now married to Shylock.

That relationship development and the status of the feud between the Capulets and Montague makes it seem like the previous Kill Shakespeare miniseries is required reading. (Except McCreery, Howell, and Chankahamma literally blow up the comic’s status quo towards the end with pyrotechnics that would burn the minds of Elizabethan audiences.) However, McCreery’s gift for Shakespearean language and soul searching look at how Juliet felt after losing Romeo gives the story resonance. Juliet has a death wish and wants to be reunited with Romeo leading to a haunting scene in a crypt where she talks about how she is responsible for the death of so many people, including Romeo and Juliet supporting characters Tybalt, Mercutio, and Paris.

McCreery and Howell really double down on the angst and rage in Kill Shakespeare: Juliet #1, but there is room for comedy too. Howell draws Benvolio, the heir of House Montague, like a complete and utter fool as he follows Juliet everywhere on her mother’s orders. He’s the clown character in the dark tragedy that this comic ends up becoming and lets Howell draw some hilarious facial expression to break up the pain and sadness. There is also another mysterious comedic character whose appearance is definitely the most intriguing part of Kill Shakespeare: Juliet #1. His identity seems pretty obvious, but who knows in this topsy turvy tragedy of a universe.

 Without Romeo in the way, Conor McCreery is free to explore the emotions and yearnings of Juliet as her life is basically over in her eyes. He digs deep into her thoughts as she wanders Verona and wonders what to do now. Juliet’s existential crises would make Hamlet proud, and she has a similar desire for death’s sweet release like the Prince of Denmark. There is also some social satire as Lady Capulet wants to keep up appearances and her family’s high state even though she is married to someone that anti-Semitic European society would disapprove of. Her romance with Shylock, who is a strict dad, but much more sympathetic than he is portrayed in Merchant of Venice . gives her more depth. Corin Howell even relaxes his wild and bombastic facial expressions for just a moment to show him praying in Hebrew like a true man of faith. Lady Capulet’s relationship with Shylock ensures that her character isn’t just being the strict, annoying, and less than memorable mother figure.

Kill Shakespeare: Juliet #1 has verbal sparring, well-placed comedy, and musings about life and death that would make the Bard of Stratford proud. Conor McCreery’s ability to create original dialogue in the manner of Shakespeare even if some of the character relationships and worldbuilding is a bit hazy for readers who haven’t read the previous comics.

Story: Conor McCreery Art: Corin Howell Colors: Shari Chankahamma
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing/Top Shelf provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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