Saturday, 11 October 2014

Kings Watch #4 - Dynamite Entertainment

KINGS WATCH No. 4, December 2013
Issue Four of “Kings Watch” begins with a very simple sentence which reads “Earth’s defenders have joined forces, but it’s too late.” and this really does sum up much of the content of the previous two issues; idle inactivity as writer Jeff Parker slowly positions his 'playing pieces' and eventually brings all the main antagonists together.
Fortunately this edition of “Dynamite Publications” five-issue mini-series desperately tries to readdress the balance and churns out some serious action-packed adventure as the invaders from Mongo attempt to conquer the Earth.

Naturally Emperor Ming’s spearhead strikes London, the heart of the British Empire and the greatest threat to his plans for world domination. As a result artist Marc Laming gets to illustrate some cracking panels depicting the British military desperately trying to fend off Lionmen and Rhinomen from Downing Street. Enter The Phantom, Flash Gordon and the misdirecting Mandrake and there’s plenty of very well-drawn carnage for a reader to enjoy. A particular highlight being the rather nice ‘double-page spread’ of the battle for Westminster, the political capital of her Majesty's government, where the linear flow of the panels really adds to the sense of action and excitement.

Laming also seems to try and cram in as many of the different races of Mongo as an Alex Raymond fan could encounter this side of a Thirties thirteen-installment Buster Crabbe film serial. As a result the penciller has Hawkmen, giant lizards, Wolfmen, Boarmen, Minotaurs and water-breathing Lizardmen all making an appearance; not forgetting the Emperor’s own forces, the white-armoured soldiers of Mongo. Which admittedly look disconcertingly similar to George Lucas' stormtroopers but with a fin stuck to top of their helmets. In addition we also finally get a chance to actually see Ming the Merciless in all his despicable dastardliness, as the Emperor nicely bookends the issue.

This really is a very good comic book with both Parker and Laming clearly well on top of their games. Even during one of the quieter moments in the book, when the heroes ‘retreat’ to Skull Cave, there’s some lovely interplay between Zarkov and ‘The Ghost Who Walks’, and then Lothar with Mandrake as the friends briefly squabble over the attention of the witch-doctor Karma. The illustration work depicting The Phantom’s secret lair is also excellent, with a real blending of Pirates of the Caribbean and primitive African culture.
The variant cover art of "KINGS MEN" No. 4 by Ramon Perez

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