UNHOLY GRAIL #2
A darker tale of a well known legend is being expertly told in UNHOLY GRAIL #2 from Aftershock Comics. Cullen Bunn has taken the cold open of the first issue and rolled back time to show how it all went wrong for King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. In this interpretation of the story Merlin was intercepted before returning to the young Arthur in his time of need. Instead a demon from the pit was wearing Merlin’s skin and twisting events to bring about his plan of mayhem in the mortal world. Molding Arthur from a young man, guiding him to the sword in the store he himself set, and urging a young king to endless war were all machinations from the twisted Imp who thought he was a wizard. But one thing he could not control was Guinevere and her presence could be all it takes to bring down a kingdom.
One of my favorite things about comic books is the ability of creative writers to take well known stories and give them enough of a twist to make something entirely new. Cullen Bunn has done exactly that with UNHOLY GRAIL. The legend of Arthur has been interpreted and retold over the ages from Disney’s classic to the recent release of King Arthur. While those stories have mostly followed the established narrative Bunn has taken a wild left turn and changed the ever steady figure of Merlin into an agent of chaos. One small change and it completely unravels the story allowing for new and creative ideas. The fact that the sword in the stone was a soldier Merlin had run through and then turned the actual body to stone is brilliant beyond words. When Arthur pulls the sword years later he comments that it seems to be bleeding. That is just one example of some really clever story telling Bunn has demonstrated. The players are all the same but instead of a kindly ruler this Arthur has been molded into a conquering warlord, how that will play out for Camelot and how the arrival of Guinevere will factor into it remains to be seen.
The pencils from Mirko Colak are really a sight to behold. The characters and the world are rendered in amazing detail and all of it has a very story appropriate layer of grime to it. HOLY GRAIL is a really interesting take on a well known story that deserves all the attention it can get. I think this is a strong title with a talented creative team that will give readers one of the most unique takes on the Arthur legend I have ever seen. This is yet another solid entry from Aftershock Comics in what continues to be a long line of strong stories.