Arthur: The Legend Continues #1
Writer: Martin T. Pierro
Artist: Cristhian Zamora
Letters: Percival Constantine
Cover artist: Atula Siriwardane
Editor: Connie Voss
Publisher: Cosmic Times
Price: $3.50 US
One of the mistakes that some indy creators make (and let’s be honest, some of the big publishers make it as well) is dedicating so much of their time and precious resources to ideas and plot premises that have been explored as thoroughly and frequently as Wilt Chamberlain’s nether regions. Writer Martin Pierro has opted to tell the story of the return of King Arthur in a far-flung, dark time at which he’s needed the most. It’s hardly cutting-edge genre fiction. I suppose one could argue that there’s an established audience for this sort of fare, but I can’t help but believe that new, unknown creators would earn more attention by exploring more unconventional territory. Still, the creators’ passion for what they’re doing here shines through in the material, but that’s not enough to hide the awkward pacing and figures.
In a post-apocalyptic landscape not unlike the Middle Ages, an order of monks tends to a cherished and mythic treasure: a certain sword, locked fast in a stone before the altar of a church. It’s been foretold that King Arthur would return to the people in their hour of greatest need. When mutant marauders set their sights upon the village, that hour is at hand, but it’s up to the most faith-filled of the monks to find the man who unbeknownst to himself is the reincarnation of a legendary warrior-king.
Zamora’s contributions to this comic book are something of a mixed bag. There are scenes in which he brings an appropriately airy, dreamy look, which is in keeping with the mythic, magical elements in the plot. For other pages, he adopts a darker, more defined look, but it’s such a deviation from the hazier scenes that it almost looks as though two different artists worked on the book. Furthermore, the artist, no matter which mode he’s in, seems to strive for a realistic look, but his eye for anatomy is a little shaky. His characters usually look a bit elongated, and any sense of movement is awkward and lurching rather than natural in appearance. If I had to describe his style, I’d say it was something of an amalgam of the work of Joshua Middleton and Michael Zulli, albeit an unfocused one. There’s really not a lot of action until the end of this extra-long issue, so the artist faces the unenviable task of spicing up a script made up primarily of talking heads. Zamora really does add up much hold the reader’s attention.
The strongest visual component of this book is the cover. Atula Siriwardane’s collage-like approach is attractive, and his work put me in mind of the styles of such artists as Colleen (A Distant Soil) Doran and Neal (Continuity Studios) Adams. The problem with the cover is that while it reproduces moments and characters from the story within, it’s so radically different from the interior artist’s style that it’s almost unrecognizable as being part of the same property.
Pierro makes something of a misstep in how he chose to begin his story. This issue opens with an extended prologue focusing on Arthur’s first death and his orders regarding the fate of Excalibur. It connects with the main plot, obviously, but the Excalibur legend is known so well that it really doesn’t require this level of exposition. The prologue plods along slowly, making the reader wait that much longer for the writer to get to the point and to the plot. When we finally arrive at the dystopian setting for the main story, the time Pierro takes to introduce the characters and backdrop seems to crawl as a result. He can’t seem to make up his mind about the tone of the dialogue. At times, the characters speak as though they’re living in Arthurian times, and at others, a few characters sound as though they’re from Brooklyn. The shifts back and forth are distracting.
There are a couple of interesting ideas at play here, though. Pierro begins to explore the culture of this second medieval age through the romance between a hope-filled, young monk and the girl his calling must force him to leave behind. I also appreciate the fact that there are three different classes of people in this world: those who live in communities, the homeless “Scavengers” and the malevolent Marauders. There’s even a hint of political and diplomatic protocols among communities. Still, these intelligent, interesting elements are minor ones in the story, and they’re not enough to divert the reader’s attention from the derivative nature of the premise and the snail’s pace. 4/10
For more information, check out the publisher’s website.