Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kingdom: The Promised Land

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Kingdom: The Promised Land (Rebellion, 2008).

In other news, Rebellion recently issued "The Promised Land," the first collected edition of Kingdom, a very pleasant surprise from the Atavar team of Dan Abnett and Richard Elson which debuted without hoopla in December 2006 and proceeded to knock all the readers on their backsides with its incredibly clever take on the hoary old post-apocalypse genre.

Giving away too much about Kingdom would really spoil the great pleasure in watching it unfold and learning about the wild and dangerous world the creators put together. It starts with a pack of nine foot-tall genetically engineered dog-soldiers patrolling a wintry landscape and chopping apart hideous, slimy alien bug-things. The pack's alpha male is called Gene the Hackman and like the others, he speaks in slow, careful, simple sentences. The dialogue is countered by a surprisingly rich narration, suggesting the stories of Gene and his pack are treasured tales from a long, otherwise forgotten time. It's a comic where part of the joy is simply following the construction of the language, and how often do you get to say that about a comic book?

Of course, Kingdom proves to be about something bigger and sadder than the snow-covered wastes that these characters walk around, and as the scope increases to incorporate other characters, so does the opportunity for heartbreak and really powerful drama, the sort that Abnett doesn't often get to write in 2000 AD's pages. Each of the two series of Kingdom (2006-07 and 2007-08) are reprinted in this book along with some great-looking extra artwork by Elson. The third series is in production and planned to appear in 2000 AD later in the year. The book's certainly worth your time; every page is a real treat.

(Excerpted from Thrillpowered Thursday.)

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