|Knights of Christendom making a Prince & the Pauper style switch (page 10).|
While not the first graphic novel I've read by ionic Chilean-French filmmaker, and frequent dabbler in the sequential art medium, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Royal Blood is the first that was purchased and consumed immediately following it's American release. Very different in tone from my previous Jodorowsky reading experience, the neo-western Bouncer: Cain's Eye (reviewed here), Royal Blood also offers a decidedly different visual take, thanks primarily to the artwork from Chinese artist Dongzi Liu.
The "eccentric" storytelling most film fans are familiar with from the avant-garde Jodorowsky remains. Having seen his "acid Western" El Topo (1970), I knew to expect a level of philosophical and sexual subtext and Royal Blood delivers though with some inconsistency. No taboo is safe. As rendered by Lui's fantastic artwork and editorial choices as to what to depict visually, and that which is better left off-panel, the gritty tale of royal betrayal, amnesia, and incest is as elegantly portrayed as could be expected given the content. There was quite a bit to take in visually, due to Liu's beautifully rendered panels, but as a narrative, I had difficulty finding a character with which to empathize for more than 3-4 pages at a time.
|In Joffrey-esque fashion young Prince Rador is revealed to be knd of a jerk (page 27).|
Jodorwosky seems to have an awareness of this, as he includes a throwaway line in a ghostly monologue that ameliorates the impact of the on-panel incestuous pairing, while the second is merely suggested. Perhaps mutilation is the new taboo. Jodorowsky raises the stakes by putting his character through no less than three individual acts of mutilation., ranging from the commonplace (guess what happens to those whop talk too much?) to an act of self-mutilation on the part of the "protagonist" intended to ensure he has no more children.
Royal Blood is most definitely not an all-ages book and certainly not for the squeamish, though the art is so darn lovely...
|It really is much easier to validate a marriage to your daughter if her bear agrees to serve|
as the maid-of-honor when your king (page 49).
|Rador's sadism takes a very unnerving turn (page 63).|
|While Alvar is not haunted by his wife/daughter's mother, Batia,|
she does appear frequently to laugh at his (many) misfortunes (page 86).