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TOPIC: [2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War

[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40285

  • startreksteve
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nianox wrote:
"definitely above average"


It made me uncomfortable, though. The War wasn't about super-heroes of any kind. It was about ordinary men and women giving their best. This obliterates the effort of servicemen and women.

Come on Nianox, its fiction! if youre offended by this you better not read any Warren Ellis!!
Is just a case of 'What If', its not an insult to any servicemen on either side. We shouldnt be be afraid to say "what if" about any subject as a fictional plot.

Steve
Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by startreksteve.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40286

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jkthemac wrote:
...Instead he is awkwardly cast as The Comedian, in both a briefing scene and a confrontation over Miss Independence, you can literally see the joins where Williams has awkwardly used cut-and-paste to insert the whole section into the plot. It is horrid clunky writing that neither suits any of the characters involved nor has any context in the wider story apart from the shocking outcome which doesn’t feel earned.
Great reviews by jkthemac! I missed the Comedian analogy. Now I see how obvious it was, and am baffled as to how I could've missed it.

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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40287

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Issue #6:

The final issue. And this blowed me away. The art is spectacular, from the peaceful first panel to the destruction in the end, every single page is a treat to look at. The dialogue & the story flow smoothly from start to finish. And the hero (?) of the story turns out to be someone I never expected.

This gets a 4 out of 5 from me. I'll definitely read it again someday.
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Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by 600WPMPO.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40288

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Yeah - maybe. I said 'uncomfortable', not 'offended', though. ;-)

And art should definitely make us uncomfortable and offended sometimes. That's absolutely fine.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40289

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Overall impression of the book:

My overall score comes out to be 3.25 out of 5, which means that the book is above average (3/5), but falls short of being reread-able (4/5). If only the middle issues were better, with some more effort on characterisation, pacing & focus on a central theme, this would've been an absolute delight. Still, there were some great art, and a wonderful last issue that made up for the shortcomings. Good to read.

p.s. Eagerly awaiting jkthemac's reviews.
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Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by 600WPMPO.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40290

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600WPMPO wrote:
I missed the Comedian analogy. Now I see how obvious it was, and am baffled as to how I could've missed it.

I think I was just tuned into Moore analogies from the start due to the nationalistic themes. And, as soon as I saw "The Allies" in the previous issue I was waiting for some kind of nod to The Minutemen. I just didn't expect it to be so close. There seems to be some point of contact between the two in every panel. Right down to a photographer / cinematographer, and the implication of homosexuality in the confrontation. The only thing not there is the controversial attempted rape, but I guess it's replaced by murder. One persons tribute is another persons rip off, but to have such a clear similarity with the most widely read of all graphic novels is always going to be a risk.
Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by jkthemac.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40323

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Hey 600, great to see the reading club is back!!

I just got back from a week in the Austrian hills, so some new reading material is welcome.
I'll give this a shot, despite my dislike of war-related stories.
I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40342

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Well longer break than expected but let’s get back on track:

Issue 4

Story
Issue 4 feels a much more solid issue, on many levels. For starters it begins to ground us in an alternative history narrative, making it clear that the U.S. have now lost the war in the Pacific. The importance of this is we now know we are in a story where theoretically anything could happen. There are still issues with the choice and use of genre conventions but it has begun to find its way as a story.

You also get Churchill almost retrofitting a reason for the whole Pacific diversion in the story, which makes me chuckle, and at the same time we return properly to the central spy plot that is key to the narrative. I would be very surprised if this wasn’t originally a 4 issue mini with an added U.S. plot thread for more universal appeal to D.C.’s core audience.

While we are at the reveal stage we get a better grasp on how Princess Rose's powers manifest and by extension a little more understanding about her mother’s predicament. Some of this does feel like a second issue, the way the narrative is actually expanding and driving towards something as opposed to world building for the sake of it. We also get the overall structure of the series played out in miniature, with a foreshadowing of a ruinous ending.

There is a tie back of the tiny snippet of the Russian Royal’s plight seen in issue one, which was just begging to be examined, but the possible nod towards Swamp Thing in the Tsar’s story was an interesting twist, evoking a more horrific root, as well as yet another nod to Moore even if indirectly.

Art
The art feels more solid also, again the colour work really pulls everything together, but there is a return to a weightier feel. The characters look like they have been in a lengthy war, with lined faces and hanging heads. Unfortunately there is also a return of the aforementioned mannequin posing in places.

Overall Impressions
On first read through I quite liked this issue, but it begins to feel less impressive on subsequent readings, I was inclined to like it because it gets back on track, but I think it needed another script pass to try and make the story hang together better, more could perhaps have been achieved in this issue.

Score
3/5
But I fluctuate to 3.5 so I cant fully decide.

Other Comments
There are some problematic issues here. The comic treats Stalingrad in a very cursory manner and plays it for horror without really matching the themes. I guess this is a war comic of sorts and it is playing with the war themes at arm’s length by introducing Super heroes, but the grand tradition of war comics suggest it is better to respect the material than purely revel in horror details. The tone isn’t quite right, I will probably return to this after the series.
Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by jkthemac.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40343

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Issue 5

Story
For me this is the meat of the story. If this had been a longer narrative I suspect we would have seen more issues like this, where we push the plot forward, get some hints as to what is going on and tie into a historical event. Even Prince Arthur is nuanced and interesting in this issue and the remaining characterisation is well wrought and enjoyable.

You have Prince Henry using classic projection, talking himself into action by arguing it out with his brother, as well as needing an excuse to hit someone because everything around him needs fixing and all he knows how to do is fly and punch. Good solid psychodrama with fists, the essence of comic writing through the ages.

We finally get King Albert actually doing something, which is a relief. But, by the time he takes action I would be surprised if every reader hadn’t figured out the plot. I really liked the betrayal scene over the Channel though, feels very much in the character of the House of Windsor (I don’t think that’s treason to say but if I don’t review part 6 assume the worst).

Art
The art is splendid in this issue. Everything comes together for the first time. Good solid war scenes, heroic and dynamic superhero panels. And of course the colour is superb as always. When I like the art I always have less to say, so I will force myself to look at the first splash page in more detail.

In the title page we have the King sitting and pondering his next move. Coleby draws his expression perfectly, you can almost hear him grunt in reflective resignation. The setup to the comic suggests how powerless he is, but as a reader you never believe it for a second, and here the artist is trying to make him look powerless for the unsuspecting reader, and yet hint that he isn’t. This is achieved by his posture. He is stooped deliberately diminishing his power, but at the same time you can see his muscle definition beneath his loose robes and ill-fitting trousers. His legs are tense, the artist catching his pose an instant before he decides to stand. He sits in a room perhaps more suited to family than office, an empty bird cage suggesting that there is nothing left for him in this country and it is time to fly like his sons. The sun streams in from behind as if the divine right of kings is illuminating his way, Mettler’s subtle colouring anointing his head and shoulders. This man is about to do something he hasn’t done for many years: whatever he wants.

Overall Impressions
Well I guess you can see I really liked this one. It got the war intrigue tone spot on, and filled out the rest with action and plot.

Score
5/5
I would be happy if they had made multiple issues like this. It finds a formula that could have worked for a longer run

Other Comments
If they had spun this out further they could have had a sub-plot concerning a conspiracy to switch sides rather than go all out for the betrayal. Might not have been better but it could have filled out issues without the Pacific stuff.
Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by jkthemac.
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[2014-08] The Royals: Masters of War 3 years 2 months ago #40344

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Issue 6

Story
This one is a bit of a mixed bag for me, not least because it has to wrap up the Japanese plot thread, and by doing so it makes it even clearer that it isn’t really a proper part of the plot. I am OK with anti-climactic endings but this feels very misplaced. I guess you could draw contrast with the ending of the story and point out that the story revolves the nuclear resolution of the war from one theatre to the other, but that doesn’t feel like the real point of the story from the character’s perspective.

The European plot is quite good, but it suffers because of the thin characterisation of Arthur for most of the mini-series. I am all for redemption arcs, but you have to feel for the character, and at least follow him on part of the journey. It felt telegraphed, maybe I have seen too many of these arcs in comics, but as soon as he committed murder it felt like this was the path they were going for, and was instantly sceptical that it would be done well. The murder was so extreme and so apparently out of character.

Again to play devil’s advocate we could say that Arthur represents the arbitrary nature of monarchy, as it has manifested throughout history, and unlike earlier, this does kind of work for me, but it possibly needed a little more work to reflect this properly. Of course he is clearly his father’s son and the former King Albert’s motive still works well here, asking questions about the real monarchy in the Second World War. (Our cosy constructed narrative of what the Royal Family did and felt during the war does deserve analysis.)

Art
Not quite at the standard of the previous issue but still pretty good and suitably climactic. The action crackling and burning with well-chosen angles ad poses, to emphasise and foreshadow the oncoming nuclear explosion.

Overall Impressions
Satisfying if a little predictable and slightly under worked as a whole story.

Score
3.5/5

Other Comments
Like Doctor Who’s ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’, the Fuhrer is completely side-lined despite being present. I suppose our stories can’t find an easy role for him and pushing him to one side is easier.
I had initially thought that this was clearly the final end to any possible story, but thinking about it there is the possibility of making King Arthur an interesting super-hero post explosion, making this story his origin. Of course that would only further highlight his under-worked arc so far.
Last Edit: 3 years 2 months ago by jkthemac.
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