Monday, March 14, 2005
Review: Shining Knight #1
I have been holding back on posting this because I wasn't sure if I wanted to review the series issue-by-issue or as a whole.
I've decided to go with the former as I get to show more of the beautiful artwork by Simone Bianchi this way...
When I picked up Shining Knight #1, the first mini-series involved in the grand Seven Soldiers of Victory epic, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I had read the first few pages of the preview that introduced the Knights, but that was it.
I found that I was pleasantly surprised.
Again, Morrison introduces more characters with just enough background to make them interesting. Justin and Vanguard are quickly grasped by the reader. I was a bit put off at first by the talking horse, but this does start off as a fantasy story. Why can't there be a talking horse?
The Knights, themselves, came off as living characters who had years of stories behind them.
The Sheeda are starting to take form and become more comprehensible to the reader as we get a face to put on the villainy with Gloriana Tenebrae. And even then the art only gives us parts of her at a time. Keeping most of her in shadows or just out of view. Making her all the more mysterious.
The scene with her biting an apple brought forth an image of the evil sorceress from Snow White.
With all this talk of fairies, magick, Camelot, a flying pegasus that talks, Castle Revolving, the Harrowing of Avalon, the Catacombs of Oethanoeth, King Arthur, the Inexhaustible Cauldron, Caliburn, the Queen of Terror... It just goes on and on...
This is great fantasy in and of itself.
Justin's arrival in Los Angeles may have seemed a bit cliched at the time, but Morrison handles it well with the few twists he's added. And the pacing is excellent. It doesn't seem like it's being padded to fit a trade paperback and it isn't coming off forced to fit within four issues. It just seems to be flowing naturally. And that's a sign of a great storyteller.
(As an aside, one of those twists reminds me of two of the best Swamp Thing stories I'd ever read, "Pog" and "Mysteries in Space". I wonder how it'll effect the overall story.)
Simone Bianchi's art is a wonder to behold as I spent quite a bit of time after I read it just marvelling at his work. Especially the opening pages with Lancelot and the Knights of the Broken Table and the scene with Justin confronting Gloriana.
I can't believe that Bianchi hasn't been snapped up sooner. Definitely someone DC needs to get an exclusive on before Marvel does.
Matter of fact, reading this book reminded me of the best work that came out of Crossgen. You have an oft-unused and neglected genre mixed with fantastic writing and very solid art. Overall, the first issue of Shining Knight proved to be fun to read and great for the eyes. And I hope that, if anything, it will succeed in showing that one issue of a comic can be just as entertaining as a story that's stretched out for four issues or more. Maybe even more so.
Some would say that padding a book to fit it into six issues is good because you can have more art, with several full page splashes to show off the artist's talent.
I dare them to look through Shining Knight #1 and tell me how un-talented Bianchi is because he doesn't pad it with needless pin-up art.
Pin-ups are for walls. And, unless you're a cave-man, we do our storytelling with panels.
For more info about Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, check out my continually updated feature.