- Posted by Johanna on April 1, 2009 at 11:41 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: story by Mike W. Barr; drawn by Brian Bolland
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics; $34.99 US
The space fantasy Camelot 3000, by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland, postulates King Arthur returning in the year 3000 in order to save the earth from alien invaders. With the staging and pacing, it’s as though someone said, “Let’s do a superhero story. Only in space! And with Arthurian knights!” But they kept the action and the outrageous plot twists (tamer these days, 25 years later).
Tom Prentice, fleeing from alien pursuers, stumbles across the tomb of King Arthur, who wakes and saves Tom. They raise Merlin from under Stonehenge and then set out to obtain Excalibur, which has appeared in the middle of the United Nations. Then they reassemble the reincarnated Knights of the Round Table. Guinevere is now Commander Joan Acton, Lancelot the richest man in the world, and his asteroid mansion New Camelot. Then there’s Percival, Kay, Galahad, Gawain … and Tristan, back as a woman. Her trauma at being reborn the wrong sex and her desire to have her “real” body back motivate part of the plot, with Arthur and Lancelot’s eternal love triangle with Guinevere complicating things as well.
For villain, there’s Morgan LeFay, still the same sorceress, wearing a bikini held together with a couple ropes of pearls. (Some things reflect the time they were created more than the future setting. Similarly, Guinevere’s short “royal gown” resembles a yellow cheerleader outfit.) Plus, various evil leaders have plots and counter-plots and traitorous alliances. It’s twist after twist livened with soap opera-style revelations and knightly mythology.
The dialogue is talky, with plenty of exposition, in the style of 80s comics. They were beginning to write for adults in those days, but they were still figuring out how to do it. Instead of trusting the audience to bring more to the table, often the approach was one of still explaining what the reader saw on the page but with bigger words and purpler prose. It’s fascinating to watch trust develop between the writer and artist as this maxi-series goes on. Barr mentions in his new introduction, covering the history of the project, that he learned to allow Bolland’s pictures to tell more of the story as he started watching pages come in.
The art is frankly stunning. Bolland has rarely done sequential art, and never at this length. Over 300 pages of his illustrations, inked by Bruce D. Patterson, Terry Austin, and Dick Giordano, make for an amazing cornucopia. This deluxe hardcover also includes his sketches and character designs.
It’s rip-roaring action! Pulse-pounding adventure! Stupendous excitement! Seriously, the epic twists make for a terrific escapist read.