Hugh Likes Comics: The Once and Future Queen

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The Once and Future Queen #1
Written by Adam P. Knave and D. J.  Kirkbride
Drawn by Nick Brokenshire
Published by Dark Horse Comics
The Legend of King Arthur evokes  a particular place in the imagination of Western Literature. It’s a foundational document of Chivalry, Knights and Ladies, and the pacification of Pagan Britain by more ‘civilized’ Christian forces. And like all canon literary myths, it has been shaped and reshaped over the centuries to fit that era’s taste. From Malory’s Le Mort Darthur to Disney’s kid-friendly adaptation of “The Sword in the Stone,” to “Monty Python And the Holy Grail.”
“The Once and Future Queen,” from the creative team behind the “Amelia Cole” Urban Fantasy series leaves yet another modern stamp on the legend. The story centers on 19-year old Portland chess champ Rani Arturus. In Cornwall for a tournament, she quickly catches the eye of a local girl, loses the tournament, and pulls The Sword from The Stone. The story proceeds from there, spilling from slice-of-life drama to full on fantasy epic. It comes complete with some decidedly un-cute fey planning an invasion and visions of Merlin speaking in riddles on the nature of time while wearing a spacesuit.
Knave and Kirkbride are having fun with the source material, and Brokenshire’s art has a sketchy quality that likewise feels relaxed and quickly draws the eye across the page. But like the chess metaphors that litter the comic, they’re still setting up their pieces. We get a glimpse of Morgan, a YA author who is clued in to the magical goings on, and a hint of tragic past and Merlin maybe exceeding moral boundaries in setting up his new/old Queen.
The game is just starting, but I’m onboard for this super-heroic, speed-chess take on the classic legend. You can pick up a copy at your local comics shop, or in digital at Comixology.com.

Hugh Likes Comics: Amelia Cole and the Unknown World

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Amelia Cole & the Unknown World

Written by D. J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave

Drawn by Nick Brokenshire.

Published by Monkeybrain (digital issues) and IDW (tpb collections)

Amelia is a magician with an unusual talent: Thanks to her Aunt and Mentor Dani, she can travel between the ‘magical’ and ‘non-magical’ world, and she has a habit of using her powers to stick her nose into matter that the police would rather she didn’t.

When the two start to merge, Dani sacrifices herself to seal them off again, and Amelia finds herself alone in a THIRD place she knew nothing about: A world where magic and technology exist side-by-side.

After she manages to settle in, however, Amelia finds out that the two aren’t exactly equal. Magicians have special status in addition to powers, and Amelia attracts the unwanted attention of “the Protector” after she uses magic to save ‘mundanes.’

“Amelia Cole” is a story about finding your place in the world, and doing the right thing. The story is fairly nuanced. Amelia’s vigilantism causes as much trouble as it solves, but she still doesn’t hesitate to do what she can. She’s a heroine that works by guts and instinct rather than a damsel in distress. Even The Protector isn’t all-bad, even if the system he works within wears him down to a core of anger and frustration.

Brokenshire’s art is a real winner. His crowds and cityscapes breath with life, and more than a few hidden easter-eggs that reward careful reading.  The designs for Amelia are great as well.  It’s sad how rarely we see a comic book heroine wearing actual clothes.

Amelia Cole and the Unknown world marks the first part of what will hopefully be a long series of adventures. Volume Two, Amelia Cole and the Hidden War, continues her adventures in the strange world she finds herself in, and I can’t wait.

Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is available digitally through Comixology, and in print from IDW.