by Mark Oakley
THE SKINNY: The depth of the wizard Quinton's mad genius is explored as he makes another break for freedom. The Shadow Queen's rebellious plans deepen. And Rubel's pledged to help yet another girl.
WRITING & ART: The Skinny above doesn't tell the half. To go in more detail: Quinton's been held by Princess Katara (who's mad), the constantly reincarnated sister of Soracia, the Shadow Queen. During his escape, he runs into the King's Guard, who are guarding the ill King in exile, whose spirit is trapped in a dragon's dream, where Soracia is arranging a meeting with said king. She usually only travels to this dream when ill or injured-in this case, by Locumire, an immortal witch (in fact of the same line as Katara), whose subordinate Kimithin is in trouble for kinda-sorta helping thief Rubel escape her clutches. Now Rubel's set to rescue Kim.
Convoluted? Yep. And that's not even touching how Rubel got caught in the first place, who caught him, and how it relates to his borderline love affair with the Shadow Queen and his paladinship of yet another budding sorceress in the line of Katara. It's a lot to keep up with, and *such* a joy to do so because forward progress in the story is plainly evident. Contrast with, say, Spawn.
Oakley's deceptively simple art style belies the complexity of his story and design sense. His only weaknesses as a storyteller are his penchant for occasional talkiness (especially in the comic sequences, as opposed to the text sections)and his mediocre lettering. Both actually serve as strengths at the same time: the former adds plenty of characterization and charm to this occasionally dark epic and the latter fits his art style
ETC: Quinton is mad? Katara's mad, too. Soracia is often mad as well. Rubel, the paladin of no fewer than four ladies on all sides of this mad conflict, MUST be mad. Thieves & Kings is a mad, mad, mad, mad comic.
VERDICT: Despite the madness, T&K continues to be one of the best fantasy comics out there. It's as inspired as Tolkien without being Tolkienesque. Grade: Quite Good [3.3]
From: KJ Sampson (email@example.com@)
This review is copyright 2000 by KJ Sampson, reprinted here by permission