Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 02.09.2011 – Knight and Squire #5

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

310
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.9%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by JIMMY BROXTON
Cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

The reason a comic book gets Pick of the Week isn't always a straight up simple thing. Sometimes, it's about the craft and skill. Sometimes it's a single moment, something that you've never seen before, or didn't expect. Sometimes, it hits you at a gut level, and it's as easy as, "I can't put my finger on it, but that was just good." There are writers out there who live on the big moments, the flash and awe and spectacle of comics. There are others who revel in the crazy fun that is superhero comics. There is no one single formula to make comics successful. The thing I love about Paul Cornell is that he does several of these things, and does them all well. In so many of his stories, it seems like we're reading something that's certainly fun, but also just a bit trivial. But he's fooling us. His stories aren't trivial. His stories have a purpose. The single issues form something greater than the individual pages, and he's proven it again and again.

Knight & Squire has been a lot of fun for me. I can't say I've loved the issues, but there was certainly a quirky charm about them that kept me coming back. I don't know anything about the characters. I don't know if there was anything to know. It doesn't matter. I could see a lot of readers going for the first issue or two, and backing out, because it was all right, but this isn't where the big stuff was happening. But if you stick with it, it all comes together, as happened in this issue. Watch out for plot points going forward.

If you've been reading along, you'll have gotten to know Knight and Squire a bit, as well as their crazy British world. You'll have seen the tongue and cheek look at the slightly off British versions of superheroes. There's a vague sense of defeated acceptance that they won't be like US superheroes so they'll have to do the best they can with what they've got. This is where was are with Jarvis Poker the British Joker, who learns at the beginning of the story that he has terminal cancer, and he's trying to come to grips with that as well as the full realization that he's sort of a knock off of the real Joker. It's silly and ridiculous, almost to the point where, as a reader, you're just about ready to write it off as a trifle. Poker goes on a "crime spree" that no one takes very seriously, and he means no harm to anyone. In fact, Knight and Squire themselves let him get away because they feel bad for his terrible situation. But it turns out that someone did notice. Then the hammer drops.

All this time, we're romping around England with their silly versions of heroes, and then -BANG- we're swiftly reminded that we're in the DC Universe, and these characters are not immune to the threats that haunt the JLA. That's because the actual Joker lives in the same world as this story, and one thing he's not laughing about is having his reputation sullied.

When the Joker shows up, all the lightness is sucked out of the story. The Joker is a terrifying murderer. He starts off by blowing a hole in the head of one of the characters we've gotten to know in the series. Dead, done, and dusted. Next! The tone changes instantly in the turn of the page, and you see what Cornell has been up to all this time. He's lulled those of us who stuck around into a false sense of security, and now these somewhat silly title characters are going to have to contend with a big time threat. We know Cornell can write the Joker from his latest appearance in Action Comics, and he doesn't disappoint here, setting up what should be a great conclusion, and we never saw it coming. But we should have suspected, because Cornell has proven himself over and over again, from Captain Britain and MI:13 to Doctor Who.

Apparently Jimmy Broxton has been around comics for a very long time. I'd never heard of him before, but he's been perfect for this series. In order for it to work, the artwork had to feel British.The pubs had to look right, and the faces and posture had to be right. They had to be more than British to be truthful. It had to be both whimsical and realistic at the same time. Every time Knight and Squire are on a page, it seems cleaner and simple, with less lines and smoother edges. When Poker, and later Joker appear, that all gets sharpened up, and brings the world into just a bit more focus and detail. There are a couple of cinematic takes in this book that reveal the skill of a master draftsman, as the camera backs way up, and we see a world that looks very real. His shots of London Bridge are spectacular, and his dry take on the Joker are exactly what the story required, going with a more "real world" looking Joker, as opposed to the freakishly long chin and features. I don't think I've realized how perfect Broxton was before getting to this issue, but like Cornell, he played his part brilliantly.

There's still a lot of fun to be had in this issue. Knight and Squire go on Jonathan Ross' show, and Knight's stammer is always kind of funny. There are, by Cornell's count, eighty-eight new characters of varying silliness in the backgrounds of these pages. It's a wonderful culmination of an issues-long set up, and we're starting to glimpse the payoff. I'm very glad I stuck around

Josh Flanagan
Ah, erm, ah, well the thing is, erm, ah…
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Josh, I always love the early picks!  I’m going to store now, and will pick this up.

  2. I must admit my interest in this series has waned, so I’m glad toread that this issue might bring it back to my attention.

  3. Great great issue, I was waning too but this tied everything together (like I hoped it would) and is leading us into what promises to be a really fun final issue.

  4. Were my prospects of future employment better this would usually mean I would buy issues #1-5.  Alas…

  5. My store was closed today because of weather:( I won’t get my books until tomorrow.

  6. I was one of those readers who dropped it after issue 2. Even with this being PoTW I have no desire to pick this up.

  7. I had no interest in this series other than liking Cornell’s writing overall. But the power of the pick of the week has made me interested.

  8. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to pick up issues 2-5 of this series and am essentially forced to wait for the trade.  I’m glad to hear #5 is so much fun.

  9. @ScorpionMasada  Cornell was one of very few writers who could get me to buy this.

  10. I picked up the first issue, but decided I’d just read it in trade.  It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel like I needed to read it every month.  I guess that worked against me.

  11. “It’s… it’s…. Monty Python’s Flying Circus”

    That has to be the most simultaneously gobsmacking, shocking, but funny pages I’ve ever read.

    Josh is definitely on the money in that the trend of the series has been one of decreasing triviality, but always always good humoured and intelligent. The vintage comic spread was great also. LOVING IT. I really hope there’s another series planned.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=063jQAM6N8I

    (There’s seemingly so much crammed into every issue, I’d be lucky to get half of the references and in-jokes. I don’t know how the americans feel, but I suppose that’s missing the point)

  12. I feel bad for not buying this and waiting for trade. I’ll admit I think it partly has to do with Paul Cornell and his unpredictability. He was a good writer before getting an exclusive with DC but did anyone have any idea he was going to be doing incredible work for DC once signing the deal? Doing this and Action Comics really seem to have risen his stock considerably.

    My POTW was Batman and Robin #20 for one reason: It was downright perfect. 

  13. I don’t know why but I was transfixed by the linework in Jarvis Poker’s facial features.
    This was so good. The ending really floored me and I had to hit pause on reading comics and make a cup of tea AND I AM NOT EVEN FROM ENGLAND! Great work to all involved.
    Too bad this party has to end next month.
  14. Yeah, I kind of did see this coming.

  15. First Star Wars then Knight and Squire? Why does it feel like Josh is channeling his inner Conor?

  16. @Ilash  If you think that Josh doesn’t like Star Wars and Paul Cornell then you don’t know anything about him.

  17. @conor: Oh, believe me, I’ve been listening to you guys for long enough to know that he likes both it’s just funny that yesterday when I saw the book of the month I first assumed it was you and then the exact same thing happened with the POW today.   

  18. This issue was really good, and I’m glad I stuck around. This will make a great trade, though. Good writing, good art, a shocking surprise, a story twist, nice in-jokes… a lot of fun reading.

  19. A really great issue, the book gets better all the time. I’d also love to see a sequel.

    Excellent review, Josh!

  20. Well, now that I’ve finally read my comics, I can totally see why this would be Josh’s POW. For me though, it just loses out to Batgirl.

  21. I’ve never even heard of this series so I’m interested to hear the podcast.

  22. @400yrs  You’ve never heard of it? We’ve talked about just about every issue on the show.

  23. I love this book. And it was definitely one of the highlights on a week where I bought 45 books (I seriously need to cut down).

  24. This is one of those books that sounds interesting but can never make it into the budget. Maybe I’ll look for it in trade. 

    So according to the review its kinda quirky and fun but not great? Love the idea of a British Joker.  

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