Graphic Novel Review: Knights of Pendragon: Once and Future
(Panini Books �14.99)
BEFORE eco-issues hit the mainstream, a relatively low-key Marvel UK comic book was highlighting the damage inflicted by mankind upon our planet in the form of a supernatural-superhero series drawing on Arthurian mythology and other ancient British folklore, while still maintaining a sharp political edge.
Jaded Scotland Yard inspector Dai Thomas finds himself caught up in a series of gruesome murders involving ecologically-based criminals, but instead of seeking the perpetrators joins forces with satellite TV reporter Kate McClellan to expose the corrupt farmers, ivory hunters, exotic bird smugglers and polluters at the heart of the murders.
Their actions attract the attention of Thomas’ friend Captain Britain, and their eventual battle reveals links with the spirits of Arthurian knights Gawain and Lancelot, and their greater connection to the power of the Pendragon. But lurking in the shadows is the insidious Bane, a malevolent force which could threaten the very planet itself…
Long overdue for reprinting, KoP was one of the stand-out British comics of the ‘nineties, with writers Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson working in perfect harmony with artist Gary Erskine to create a series which was both educational and highly entertaining. Although this collection doesn’t follow the original book’s policy of printing on the environmentally friendly paper Scangloss, the themes it highlights are even more relevant today than during its original run.
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Sadly Knights of Pendragon was cancelled after just 18 issues and relaunched as a bog-standard superhero title, but the nine issues reprinted here (and hopefully the remaining nine will turn up in a second volume) are unquestionably worthy of a wider audience. Who knows, if it proves enough of a success we might not have seen the last of England’s Pendragons after all?
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