Kill Shakespeare Past is Prologue: Juliet #1
Writer: Conor McCreery
Artist: Corin Howell
Colorist: Shari Chankahamma
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Publisher: IDW

A review by Rich Schepis

Kill Shakespeare Past is Prologue: Juliet #1Vitriol. Rage. Anger. All three emotions hit readers immediately upon the page one splash of Kill Shakespeare Past is Prologue: Juliet #1. Juliet has survived while her lover still perished. Some things have changed in Juliet’s life, while others remained the same – especially her relationship with the Lady Capulet, which soured after Juliet’s refusal to marry Paris. Conor McCreery and Corin Howell team up for a brilliant story that follow the young Juliet’s heart, but will also surprise readers at the same time.

Grief takes all forms, and Juliet has entered the fury stage of hers. It has been sometime since the death of Romeo and much has changed in Verona and in the Capulet household. McCreey also introduces readers to world very much in all the works of Shakespeare as familiar characters from his works like Shylock, MacBeth, King’s Lear and Richard make an appearance or are referenced.

McCreery tells the narrative through Juliet, which of course can be unreliable as first-person tales often unfold. She seems to be focused on lies as the story opens and even unfolds due to her actions. Readers of Romeo and Juliet will recall how much lies and deceit doomed the star-crossed lovers relationship almost immediately. The only question is, will lies once again spell ruination for the surviving member of the relationship.

Two nods to Romeo and Juliet are included as integral components of the story, as Juliet’s relationship continues to suffer from the cold moment upon her Lady Capulet writes her daughter off for disobeying her father to not marry Paris. The second, even more notable is when Juliet once again visits the tomb in which Romeo has died and her dear cousin Tybalt lies at rest. Readers will recall that when Juliet first arrived at the tomb to carry out Father Lawrence’s plan of deception, numerous thoughts and visions raced through her young min. McCreery revisits this idea to excellent effect.

While as fascinating tale unfolds, Past is Prologue is a narrative-laden story with little action. Therefore, it is up to Howell to do a lot of the heavy lifting with her visual storytelling. She does not disappoint and demonstrates masterfully that she is up to the task. Each panel breathes and exists in its own place with each scene of dialogue – camera angles from above, behind and more.  Her depiction of Juliet on page one sets the tone for the entire story as Juliet’s screaming introduces readers to what will unfold.

One truly wonderful illustration comes as Juliet overlooks Verona contemplating her next course of action. The winds whips through her hair as her eyes peer downward. It is a rare moment of introspection at this point of the story, made even more poignant upon the discovery of Juliet’s true purpose of wanting to leave the Capulet household at the book’s start. Howell’s art is beautiful in this moment and truly captures the character.

And then there’s the cat. Readers who know of the artist’s fondness of felines will be pleased to see her get to draw a cat, which also plays a pivotal role in the tale’s climactic ending. The only downside to the issue is the portrayal of Benvolio, who appears much older than he did in the play. Since there is no mention of how much time has actually passed (although it is a bit), it still seems odd that he would have aged as much as he appears. It is distracting and could pull readers out of the story, especially those who are huge fans of Romeo and Juliet.

The Verdict
Buy It! Fans of Kill Shakespeare’s previous series should instantly love the updating of his classic play of star-crossed lovers, who were once thought doomed as a couple. Kill Shakespeare Past is Prologue: Juliet #1pays tribute to Juliet and her love of Romeo, while cleverly threading the seeds of what is to come and how it might impact Juliet.

Rich Schepis

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