Kings Watch #1
By Jeff Parker, Marc Laming & Jordan Boyd
Dynamite has become the home of reinvigorating old pulp heroes and making them relevant in the 21st century. After the success and attention Masks got earlier this year it would seem like a no-brainer that teaming up golden age B-listers has quite the following of fans. So now we have a team of the Phantom, Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician, and this team is known as Kings Watch.
You can assume the name Kings Watch derives from the fact that all of these characters were created in the 30’s for a company known as King Features Syndicate. At first it seems like this was just a random group that might not be able to pull off a solo series so they threw them together in a team-up book to try out the waters, but these guys do have history especially an 80’s cartoon called Defenders of the Earth. Reading this first issue really lays out each character and how they each separately approach a world-affecting disaster. Even though the team name of Kings Watch is mentioned this issue you never actually see all three together yet. Parker set this beginning off quite well by naturally introducing the main players from all sides and establishing the threat without making this issue seem like a long set-up. After recently watching The Phantom movie from the 90’s starring the suave Billy Zane it was nice to have a more gritty Phantom in this story. The purple jump suit, grouchy disposition and being inside a jungle full of danger made the Phantom stand out this issue.
Laming’s art helped elevate interest as he did an excellent job combining a very real world approach while still keeping some pulp roots planted around, so both old and new fans will be pleased. No one needed a new costume or new abilities, just the same old heroes we know dealing with a threat that seems pretty all-encompassing. The designs are simple but effective, like Flash Gordon’s Space Plane is just a slightly updated look to the one most fans are familiar with, to giant humanoid-dinosaur monster that can fight off an angry elephant but is no match for the Phantom’s bullets of justice. Not sure if Laming and Boyd have worked together before but they make for an excellent art/color team in this book.
Overall I think this is shaping up to be one of Dynamite’s strongest team-up books yet. Parker was a smart choice for writer because he can really tell a high-quality adventure without being too serious. This will only be a 5 issues mini-series so it is honestly worth the time and money to at least check out Kings Watch.