Illustrated by Gabrielle Kari
William Shakespeare and his faithful page are leading double lives - while not writing plays or trying get his actors to put on the best plays, William is a crime-fighting masked vigilante known as The Bard, assisted by his helpful Page. The two confront evil-doers such as the crime-boss Falstaff, and the menacing Puck who is working for the vengeful Oberon. During their adventures, The Bard and Page get marooned on an island with a hungry wild beast who teaches Page magic and tricks The Bard into embracing it. They also find themselves in Verona in the middle of a civil war between two powerful houses.
Gladstone must be an epic Shakespeare fan, because there are so many references to plays and storylines masterfully woven into this comic. This comic is definitely for a Shakespeare fan, by a Shakespeare fan, so it's not going to have a super broad appeal to a general library audience. The entire story is written in iambic pentameter, which might throw off some readers, but Shakespeare enthusiasts will more likely appreciate the effort it took to craft the dialogue this way. Shakespeare himself also often rhymes, which sets him apart from a lot of the other characters. Aside from the appeal for Shakespeare fans, the adventure the two go on is really entertaining, and it reminds me of the feel of Disenchantment. Everything kind of turns out ok in the end, but the two often get into more trouble along the way.
Kari's illustration style is a lot more cartoony and less about being overly detailed. Characters are often reduced to the main emotion they're conveying, and they portray it with every ounce of their being. The color palette choices were really pleasing and balanced.
There is a bit of violence and a few characters draw blood on the page. Several characters imbibe alcohol, especially in the first chapter. Otherwise, the only thing elevating this book from younger readers is the prerequisite knowledge of Shakespeare's work and familiarity with the speech patterns and vocabulary, which generally comes later in high school.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Publication Date: August 9, 2022
ISBN: 9781953414304 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Comicbooks, Action Adventure, Humor, Historical Fiction, Superheroes, Magic
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I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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