Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Union Jack by Raab & Cassaday Graphic Novel Review

This is a third generation Union Jack, Joey Chapman, the son of a dock worker, who this incarnation of Union Jack feels never amounted to much, and as the Union Jack he can amount to so much more than his father ever dreamed of.

For those of you that are familiar with the legacy that is Union Jack, will know how different this one is. Union Jack started life in World War 1, his name was Lord Montgomery Falsworth, a rich aristocrat who donned the costume to fight tyranny, and vampires! After he had his legs crushed by Baron Blood, the mantle was eventually passed on to his son, Brian Falsworth, but for a very shot time, he was killed in a car accident.

The next in line should have been Kenneth Crichton, sole heir to the Falsworth fortune, but he was too weak to take on the mantle, and this is where Joey Chapman comes in, he's Kenneth Crichton's best friend, and you could say he was in the right place at the right time to become the latest in the long history of this very iconic character.

This story explores not just the hero, but the man inside the costume, and his relationship to Kenneth Crichton. Union Jack is portrayed as human, granted with increased speed, and strength, but you really get a feel for what he's like.

Armed with his Webley .455 pistol, and six inch silver dagger, he races in to danger, on his motorbike to face vampire hordes aplenty.

Every hero has his very own arch-enemy, and all through the history of Union Jack there's been Baron Blood, a vampire, but not just any vampire. The original Baron Blood was John Falsworth, brother to the original Union Jack. Baron Blood is to Union Jack what Loki is to Thor, so not only do you have the ultimate arch-enemy, you have one you are related to, how intense is that?

The Baron Blood in this story is none other than, Kenneth Crichton. He didn't start out as a vampire, but through his inadequacy at not being strong enough to don the UJ uniform, he was swayed to become the new Baron Blood, with his bloodline connections making him the perfect candidate.

Ben Raab has cleverly taken new incarnations of both Union Jack, and Baron Blood and linked them, through friendship, more-so than the usual blood connection.

Baron Blood is not the main villain of this piece, even though he plays a big part, in fact he's pretty much a pawn of a character called The Baroness.

The Baroness is a vampire, one who had been turned by the original Baron Blood, after he had slaughtered her family in front of her. Her whole reason behind the manipulation of Kenneth Crichton, was to get hold of the Holy Grail, but not before Kenneth Crichton had impregnated her with a new, you would presume to be, Baron Blood, then using the Grail to gain immortality. The immortality wasn't just long life, she already had that, it enabled her to become unaffected by sunlight, and the usual vampire frailties.

This is a great read, I recommend it to anyone that would care to read it. Ben Raab has captured the essence of each and every character contained within, and has managed to stay away from the usual stereotypical Ray Winston type of acting for Union Jack.

The art is by John Cassaday, it fit's the character so well. I've talked about comic art many times and how a style has to fit the character. Alan Davis draws the definitive Captain Britain, Bill Sienkiewicz drew the perfect Moon Knight, with Alex Maleev also drawing an excellent MK. John Cassaday's art compliments the character, and Raab's telling perfectly, I really like it, perfect for this tale. It would have been a travesty if Marvel had used Rob Liefeld, or Stephen Platt, or even David Finch to draw this tale, not that there's anything wrong with their art, but it would have taken away from the story itself.

I strongly recommend that you go and buy this graphic novel, and at £6.99 only, it's a must. Loved it, and to my calculations, the next story involving Union Jack takes place in the 'New Invaders' released in 2004, followed by another Union Jack solo affair in 2006. I will review both once I've bought them.

No comments:

Post a Comment