Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Kings Watch #3 - Dynamite Entertainment

KINGS WATCH No. 3, November 2013
I am not entirely sure why I ended up purchasing this particular edition of “Kings Watch” as it has a Ramon K. Perez exclusive subscription cover and I am not a fan of his artwork, despite him being a multi-award winning cartoonist. Indeed the regular comic’s front page illustration by Marc Laming and Jordan Boyd is infinitely better and actually conveys a real sense of foreboding as to the magical and mystical forces that are to come to play within the book’s pages. Certainly if I was a fan of this “Dynamite Entertainment” series, and had signed up ahead of time with my local comic shop to reserve this particular issue I’d have been forcefully arguing that I did not deserve the “super special subscription variant” by Perez, even if it was “limited to initial orders only”.

Uninspiring cover art aside this third part in the five-issue mini-series finally provides Mandrake the Magician with some serious ‘screen time’ as Lee Falk’s creation faces his most evil and dangerous foe, The Cobra. Jeff Parker makes an especially good job of scripting this confrontation, embedding a memory of Flash Gordon’s childhood into the mix, so having watched the hypnotist as a young boy, the science fiction hero can assist him and distract the Cobra’s men in the present. Mandrake’s role continues to grow throughout the issue as the Portland-based writer uses him to explain the Cobra’s plans to Gordon, Dale Arden and Zarkov. Indeed the Magician not only seems well-versed in the mysterious quantum crystal-powered gateway to unknown worlds but also knows of Ming the Merciless and what the ruthless tyrant of the planet Mongo will do once he gains access to Earth.

Marc Laming’s illustrations continue to be an inconsistent affair, one minute perfectly capturing the raw dynamism of The Phantom blazing away with pistols upon horseback and the next filling a panel with a rather showy quantum energy formation whose pencilling looks amateurish at best. However I think colorist Jordan Boyd needs to take some responsibility for this rather average look to Laming’s layouts and inking, as the majority of his work seems to be disappointingly two-dimensional; a main colour with a single darker shade for shadowing.

What is not to be missed though is the excellent special script-to-page process presentation at the rear of this book, which takes the reader from Jeff Parker’s script for pages two and three, through Marc Laming’s initial panel sketches and ends with the lettering of Simon Bowland. This provides a fascinating insight into the creation of a modern-day comic and sadly is probably the highlight of the issue.
The regular cover art of "KINGS WATCH" No. 3 by Marc Laming

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