|KINGS WATCH No. 5, January 2014|
Spookily I only purchased this edition with the “exclusive subscription cover” by Ramon K. Perez because it was simply cheaper than the infinitely superior Marc Laming and Adam Street main cover. However what it lacks in dynamism it more than makes up for in solemnity, and therefore seems a far more fitting illustration to open the grim conclusion of this five-issue mini-series.
Writer Jeff Parker somewhat eases off the gas with this final chapter of his ‘Mongo invades the Earth’ storyline, but there’s a genuine reason as to why the action is not as grand-in-scale as its predecessor. It’s because it allows the Oregon-based author to instead concentrate on the character of The Phantom, and provide an abbreviated history as to how the role’s modern-day incumbent came to wear the mask. These scenes between ‘The Man Who Cannot Die” and Lothar become extremely poignant later on, and worth re-reading as a result, because Parker kills The Phantom off in a final noble sacrifice at the conclusion of Mandrake’s confrontation with The Cobra… and the Magician’s crime-fighting friend then dons the mask himself (presumably as the twenty-second Phantom).
Indeed although much of this issue is about endings, such as the death of The Cobra and an end to Ming’s invasion plans following the demise of his amphibian army, it is also about establishing new beginnings. Flash Gordon, Dale and Zarkov fly through the Earth’s gateway in order to ensure it’s ‘permanently closed’ and thus begin their adventures on Mongo thwarting the machinations of the Emperor Ming. Whilst Mandrake, having recovered from Cobra’s venom ring, appears to establish a new triumvirate to defend the Earth with himself, Karma and The (new) Phantom. Even The Cobra has a successor to take his place as the head of the secret cult in Mandrake's (estranged) wife, Narda.
All of these events are competently illustrated by artist Marc Laming and colorist Jordan Boyd, with a full-page panel showing The Phantom killing a “Little Shop of Horrors” Audrey II wannabe with a bazooka, and Lothar turning the five-hundred year-old pages of the first Phantom’s journal being particular highlights.
Sadly the only real negative to the proceedings is the creative team’s depiction of The Phantom’s demise. The pencil work of Laming is strong enough but whereas The Cobra is shown colourfully burning alive, ‘The Ghost Who Walks’ is illustrated on his knees with little to no colour being used in order to portray a blindingly white energy effect. Personally this makes the artwork of the large panel simply appear unfinished…
|The regular cover art of "KINGS WATCH" No. 5 by Marc Laming and Adam Street|