I had never been familiar with the DC character’s Knight and Squire before Grant Morrison used them in an old JLA series (Ultramarines, I think it was). At first glance they appear as typical Batman and Robin spin-off characters. Then at second glance they appear the same way, however the more Morrison used them I began to understand and even appreciate that Knight and Squire are supposed to be exactly that; B-level superhero fodder; regional franchises of one of the most famous and successful superheroes of the modern age. And as anyone who has followed Morrison’s work knows he is often at his best when handling such characters (Animal Man anybody?). So has been the case with this British duo’s mounting presence in the Bat-books and now in their own six-issue limited series written by British comics writer Paul Cornell and artist Jimmy Broxton, which having just caught up and read the first four issues I can tell you, is pretty damn cool.
Knight and Squire is not an overly ‘serious’ book – if you ever had the pleasure of reading Warren Ellis’ short-lived but wonderful Nextwave series from a few years back* then that’s the tone I’m talking about; it’s not a joke or a comedy, but there’s a nice wink wink, nudge nudge brand of humor running through pretty much every issue so far and it often facilitates some rather brilliant comics action and plotlines. Take for instance issue three, the cover of which I’ve posted above. You may or may not have thought upon first seeing that picture, ‘Gee, is that Richard III standing atop our fallen heroes?’
Yes, it is.
See, that’s what I’m talking about here. Issue one deals with a pub in Britain called the Time In a Bottle where truce magick has rendered the establishment a conflict-free hangout for Britian’s many heroes and villains, most of whom are rather one-off -ish just like Knight and Squire. The aforementioned issue three has been my favorite so far and cinched my desire to write a piece about the book, as a modern scientist uses technology to bring Richard III back to life. Once revived (in a brand spankin’ new body to boot) Richard III decides not only should he once again be granted the throne of Albion but also that if he revives some of his other compatriots from history he could possibly take over the entire world.
Superhero books are a hard sell to me anymore, but one way to hit it home is to not take themselves too seriously. A second is of course to be 100% steeped in British culture. Paul and Jimmy have a winner here as far as I am concerned and I’m on board for all six and hopefully more after that.
* If you’ve not read Nextwave, please do!