Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Royals: Masters of War #4 Review

Written by: Rob Williams
Art by: Simon Coleby
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: May 14, 2014

From Russia With...

The Royals' setting is an alternative history where the various Royal Families around the World all have super powers.  Since such power could simply wipe out humanity, they have called a truce where none of them get involved in the trivial affairs of "normal" humans.  That all changes when Prince Henry of England can't sit back and watch his Country get destroyed by Germany during World War II.  While on the surface, him entering the War seems heroic and noble, the repercussions of a Royal breaking the truce are sudden and deadly.  The United States have entered the War and the Japanese Royals have shown they aren't to be messed with.  Meanwhile, Prince Henry, his sister Rose (who he's in love with) and his brother, Arthur (who is a psychotic killer) are trying to save England in their own unique ways.  Unfortunately, there is a traitor amongst their ranks. That's where this issue picks up.

Henry and Rose are off to Russia.  Oh, the places they'll go. Stalingrad, in particular.  One of the bloodiest battles in history and they are to go in to get Prince Oscar of Hanover.  He has had enough of Hitler's policies and is just plain sick of battle.  The reason they are going, however, is Oscar knows who the traitor is.

What has made The Royals so great is Rob Williams' characterizations of the Royals themselves.  They aren't your normal superheroes.  In fact, they can be downright awful, but that's what makes them interesting. Yes, they have powers, but they have placed themselves above everyone else like...well, royalty.

Next, we are introduced to Prince Oscar.  He actually is pretty heroic, putting himself at risk using his "power" that he later admits is only good at getting ladies at dinner parties.  It's also good at distracting snipers and getting the attention of one mutated super powered Tsar. 

Yes, the Tsar is alive and (not so) well.  He has only recently escaped the prison Lenin and Stalin put him in and he has turned his back on the Russian people.  After taking Oscar he faces off against Henry.  It's a quick and brutal battle that leaves Henry unconscious.

I have to commend Rob Williams again.  Having the Tsar enter the fray is genius.  The reasons he gives for fighting and where his allegiances lie are even better.  He is a grotesque behemoth and he's awesome.

In a stroke of luck, this predicament has at least brought Oscar together with Henry and Rose.  Case closed, right?  Nope, before the traitor can be revealed, the Tsar literally rips Oscar in half.  In his dying moments, however, he transfers himself into Rose's mind.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what is making Rose go insane. It's getting pretty crowded in there.
This is the first issue that really shows the horrors of War.  Before this, Henry seemed to be above it all, a heroic figure that swooped in to change the tide of War.  Even when he faced off against the Japanese it seemed civilized and honorable.  The Tsar has changed all that.  Like War, he is brutal, insane and unforgiving.  He reminds me of Prince Arthur, who we don't see at all this issue.  I can't wait to see how this encounter changes Henry and how he relates to Arthur and the increasingly mad Rose.

Simon Coleby's art fits the horror to a tee.  It's dark, dangerous, but also beautiful.  Every issue features a handful of standout panels that even non comic book fans will love.  Henry and Rose flying with the Bombers is just that this month.

Bits and Pieces:

The Royals: Masters of War #4 is another great issue in an already great series.  The horrors of War are seen first hand and a new Royal has entered the battle.  This book should be in every one's pull list.


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