I do not normally start any of my reviews with a disclaimer, but this review, published in advance of the release of Issue Three of this series later this month, needs one.
If you have right wing views, read the Daily Mail or Telegraph, are a royalist or partake of all three, then do not buy this comic. It will upset you. Also, do not read this review as that will upset you as well. I thank you for your time and consideration and hope that you will read my other reviews at some point.
Written by John Farman
Art by John Howard
Published by Vital Publishing
This comic is as much a product of today as it would have been a product of the dystopian times that many of us lived through in the 1970’s. Pick the film or novel that features your preferred futuristic nightmare. Then pick up this comic. Now contrast and compare.
Many elements of the story will remind you of other imaginings of the future. The use of violence to distract a weary population (see Stephen King’s Running Man or D C Thomson’s Arena) broadcast on live TV. The idea of the last person standing winning echoes with the survival of Johnathan E in Rollerball or Taggart in Death Game 1999. But this is where John Farman goes into the undiscovered country.
Instead of choosing children to represent the districts a la Hunger Games, Farman has chosen to thinly disguise the ruling family and have them in a fight to the death an idea that has echoes around the world and throughout history.
For our own history, look at the Plantagenets and the interesting times they had after the death of William I, the War of the Roses where brother fought brother for the right to be crowned King after the death of Richard II or the murky work of the Tudors as they dealt with the succession after the death of Henry VIII. And, even closer to the present day, the massacre of the Nepalese Royal Family in 2001 by Crown Prince Dipendra.
One of the few stories that I can compare Royal Descent to is Third World War from Crisis. Both have attempted to deal with current events and dealt with them in an unorthodox manner. Third World War dealt with the abuse of the planet in order to boost the profits of the multinational corporations. Royal Descent seems to be dealing with the growth of violence in order to sublimate the desires of the population to hold the government accountable.
I will be honest and say it has taken me two years to get around to picking up this comic and reading it. And while I know that 15 years ago, I would have been aghast at this comic, I am glad to have taken the time to read the two issues that are currently available. And I am agog to read Issue Three – which will hopefully be available from 11th April 2015.
• To see more of their comics, you can find Vital Publishing on Facebook
• For a look at more of John Howard’s work go to John Howard’s website