Thursday, 18 September 2014

Kings Watch #2 - Dynamite Entertainment

KINGS WATCH No. 2, October 2013
I actually found the pulp fiction punchy Marc Laming cover to this second issue of “Kings Watch” rather disconcerting for three reasons. Firstly, despite the artist once again superbly capturing the naked knuckle-fighting aggression of The Phantom, the African hero doesn’t actually square-up, shoulder-to-shoulder with Flash Gordon, against the Cobra’s soldiers within the comic book. Secondly, it depicts a level of exhilarating action and adventure that is sadly missing within the entire twenty-two pages of panels which follows it; Doctor Zarkov smashing a bottle of booze over a head of a Cobra minion aside. And thirdly, in being a superior piece of art to the exclusive subscription cover by Ramon Perez, it’s probably the best thing about the entire edition.

Whilst the first of this five-issue limited series by “Dynamite Entertainment” had some slow moments, it interspersed them with some breath-taking action sequences set deep within the lush jungle of Africa. Jeff Parker’s plotting in this next instalment is nowhere near as good as the narrative plods from Manhatten, Connecticut, West Tanzania, the Cobra’s hideaway and then Gordon’s stables (returning to New Haven) and later his aircraft hangar without much happening at all. Pacing is always important in long multi-issue stories, and sadly all this flitting from scene to scene, character to character, conversation to conversation, simply smacks of Parker seriously having to pad out the storyline to fill this particular chapter in the adventure.

Only in the final handful of pages does the action finally heat up as Cobra’s men attack Gordon, Arden and Doctor Zarkov in order to steal the quantum crystal but disappointingly artist Marc Laming’s pencil work is surprisingly not up to the task. Indeed the quality of his drawing, especially after the issue’s impressive cover, seriously declines as the page count increases. The illustrator really seems to struggle with any sort of consistency whilst pencilling Dale, and unfortunately for his second outing on this title you can add his depictions of Flash and Hans to name but two, to that mix.

In fact the UK based artist's artwork showing Cobra's agents getting soundly thrashed by Alex Raymond’s creation from the early Thirties do not only not look quite right, but an especially large double-page panel of Gordon kicking an assassin appears to simply be a an uninspired lazy ‘blow up’ of a far smaller less-detailed drawing.
The variant cover art of "KINGS MEN" No. 2 by Ramon Perez

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