Thursday, June 26, 2003

Knights Of The Dinner Table Illustrated #23 - A Review

Written by: Mark Plemmons
Penciled by: Brendon & Brian Fraim
Inked by: Brendon & Brian Fraim
Colored by: N/A
Lettered by: Brendon & Brian Fraim
Editors: Brian Jelke & Eric Engelhard
Publisher: Kenzer And Company

Two months ago in a previous review, I complained that this title was becoming too hampered with an on-going plot and that the humor was starting to fall to the wayside as an effort was made to tie together the various random unconnected events of the first few issues. After this issue, I have to wonder if any but the most marginal attempts are being made to include humor in this title at all.

The basic conceit of “KILL” is that most of the “Knight: Illustrated” comics are “live” depictions of the events of the role-playing games played in “Knights of the Dinner Table”. This was quite enjoyable in the early issues when new details were added into the KILL issues through the art and dialogue. For example, consider the now famous story where the “Knights RPG group destroy a gazebo, thinking it to be some kind of monster based on the game-master’s description. This is changed to a group of adventurers destroying a gazebo after seeing a sign that says “this way to the gazebo”, noting the statues surrounding it, concluding the gazebo must be some kind of monster and “wasting it”. But lately, it seems like the past stories are being converted into new issues of KILL, but with all of the funny bits being pushed aside to make room for exposition.

After the first few issues where the greatest moments of KODT were recreated with a few new twists, things changed. We were introduced to a secret society made up of various people who had been wronged by our heroes, The Untouchable Trio, and were dedicating themselves to destroying the adventurers after using them to accomplish their own dastardly ends. We have seen this group operating for several issues now, seen the dissension within their ranks… but they just aren’t as interesting or as funny as the general mayhem caused by the Trio on their own. And the revelation that they have been secretly manipulated by this society kills a lot of the humor from the idea that these “heroes” randomly stumble into things and cause trouble.

This wouldn’t be too bad if the drama caused by this society were as engaging as the humor. Sadly, this book is very inaccessible. Sure, the four main characters are briefly introduced on the main page… but nothing is made to introduce Lord Gilead, his motivations for wanting to destroy the Untouchable Trio and what the secret society has that could buy his cooperation in letting the Trio loose from his dungeons. There’s not even so much as a footnote to explain things… like writer Mark Plemmons has just assumed that this book has no new readers or that anybody who is reading this book has already read the original KODT books upon which this story is based.

Thankfully the art is still up to snuff, but it’s not enough to save this book. When the plot is dull the exposition nonexistent and the humor absent, not even the widest of wild-eyed humorously panicked faces can help to move things along. Still, it is obvious that the book is building towards something big… but a book like this is not read for the action and plot. It is read for the laughs. And right now, I don’t see anything worth laughing at.

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