UNHOLY GRAIL #1
There have been many stories told of Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable but none have taken the dark approach featured in UNHOLY GRAIL #1 from Aftershock comics. Cullen Bunn has taken the classic tale of Arthur, Merlin, Camelot, and the Lady of the Lake and given it a twist of demonic proportions. With Camelot in ruins a weary Percivale, last remaining knight of the round, returns with the Holy Grail to finally set it upon the table in its proper place. Only to his dismay does he learn at the last moment that the figure known as Merlin is not the mage he appears to be, rather a demon in human form who has been plotting and manipulating events from the beginning.
Bunn’s first issue in this new series is somewhat fractured in its timeline and storytelling but no so much so that readers will feel lost. I think the writer assumes a causal knowledge of the characters and events surrounding the Arthur legend and thus can be forgiven for the erratic shifts in location and time. The character of Merlin has always been one that has existed in the gray area between hero and manipulator and Bunn runs with it to the extreme casting him as a demon who has escaped hell with a very focused agenda that unfolds over years. UNHOLY GRAIL #1 is a solid first issue that lays out the cast and setting and ends with a solid hook to bring readers back for issue number two.
The art is by Mirko Colak and it revels in the dark and dirty setting of the story. The character art is solid throughout with clean pencils and dark inks. The entire issue feels perfectly grimy, the landscape is one of war and death and it matches the dark tone of the story rather well. There are a few points where the chaotic style of the art makes the page layouts confusing but overall I enjoyed the approach. Aftershock has been coming out with some really solid and unique books from top tier creators and I think UNHOLY GRAIL #1 is another one. It takes a classic story we all know and changes it just enough to make it fresh and interesting.