A futuristic take on the King Arthur story without the usual swords and sorcery, QAM Comics new Guided View pilot The Round #0 is released as part of their ‘Zero Season’. But will it be magical enough to make it beyond this early stage?
Publisher: QAM Comics
Writer: Quinton Miles
Artist: Davide Pandozy
Price: £0.69/$0.99 from ComiXology
The Round #0 is a sci-fi take on the King Arthur legend, but without the traditional swords and sorcery we’ve seen a million times before. Set in a shiny futuristic world, the Knights of The Round are a black ops style hit squad who tackle magical opponents on behalf of the king – it’s a bit like King Arthur and The Agents of the R.O.U.N.D T.A.B.L.E.! But after tackling a particularly nasty villain (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Juggernaut), the Knights discover that ancient foe Merlin is returning to the world, inspite of King Arthur’s best attempts to keep him and his ancestors buried since the battle of Camelot.
The book is split into three distinct chapters with the action-packed opening mission filling up act 1, while act 2 introduces us to the Knights and gives us back story on some of the main protagonists, before act 3 introduces us to the new look Merlin. By fleshing out the characters in the middle section, writer Quinton Miles does a great job of making these relatively 2-dimensional characters have some real depth, especially Sir Carver (who is taking on the family man role with his wife Ava who is a former knight herself) and Sir Dawson (who is going to be the enigmatic loner of the group). Without this, the secondary characters would be very forgettable but instead you have a reason to care about the exploits of this team and don’t just get bogged down in the supernatural back and forth of Arthur and Merlin.
It’s an interesting twist on the traditional dynamic of the story by casting Merlin in the lead villain role, but it gives the book a quick and identifiable bad guy for the team to rally round. We also suspect from ideas laid down in this first issue he [or should that be ‘she’] may end up as a more complex, morally ambiguous, Magneto-style main baddie, which is no bad thing. In the final section we get introduced to the [possible] new Merlin in a Matrix style ‘is this the chosen one’ approach which continues giving the book a very original feel.
Miles script is ably backed up by Davide Pandozy’s art which has a very modern, mainstream feel, reminiscent of Stuart Immonen, that gives the book a very polished feel. The use of Guided View is quite subtle, with just a few page transitions and sequentially appearing text, however not over doing things is never a bad thing in our books and as such the whole thing looks and feels like a very accomplished product, especially when compared to more mainstream efforts from Marvel and DC, which we hope will be allowed to develop in the future.