Monday, October 18, 2010

Camelot 3000 Review

Camelot 3000
DC Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
312 pages
ISBN 0930289307

Contributors: Mike Barr, Brian Bolland, Terry Austin, Bruce Patterson, John Costanza, and Tatjana Wood

Reprints: Camelot 3000 #1-12 (of 12)

Synopsis: King Arthur is prophesied to return when England needs him most.  Well, the Earth is being invaded by aliens in the year 3000 and its pretty good time for him to come back.  The governments of Earth are pathetically crippled by bureaucracy and unable to rally against the invaders.  It looks like the planet is doomed until young Tom Prentice awakens King Arthur under Glastonbury Tor.  Soon Arthur retrieves Merlin from Stonehenge and Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake (now the Lady in a Nuclear Coolant Bath).  They unite the reincarnated Knights of the Roundtable.

Things are different with the Knights as their reincarnations take odd turns - Guinevere is American military commander Joan Acton, Lancelot is French industrialist Jules Futrelle, Galahad is a Japanese bushido samurai, Percival is transformed into a monstrous Neo-Man, Kay is a degenerate gambler, Gawain is a South African family man, and Tristan is a woman about to be married.

Arthur returns to save the land, but all is not as it seems.  Given a second chance can Lancelot and Guinevere contain their love for one another?  What link with Arthur does the aliens' strange master have and how can the Knights stand against the power of the Holy Grail wielded by a reincarnated Modred?  Tristan rails against being reincarnated as a woman - will he betray the Knights to regain his manhood and be reunited with Isolde? 

Pros: Quirky take on the King Arthur legend, bold story at the time with Sir Tristan's gender-bending ordeal, girl-girl action with Tristan/Isolde (and Tristan constantly being pursued by a horny Tom Prentice)

Cons: Bolland's art is much better when he self-inks and doesn't come across as very polished here, aliens are pretty pathetic, story is not terribly sophisticated, Lancelot/Guinevere/Arthur love triangle is tired

Mike Tells It Straight:  This series broke new ground back in the 80s with direct market availability, high-quality paper, and became the first maxi-series. It was a finite story, outside of regular DC continuity, and intended for mature readers (no Comics Code Authority seal of approval).  Arthurian legend was heavily researched by Barr for the story - a mix of mythology, science fiction, and politics. 

Being first at anything doesn't guarantee greatness and this book is a prime example of it.  The story comes across a bit corny and cliched, while Bolland's art is ruined by the inkers.  I must give Barr credit for having gay (lesbian) subject matter with the female Tristan and Isolde.  Overall not a high recommendation and has become a bit dated

2008 saw the release of a luscious hardcover edition of Camelot 3000, which is an absolute must-have for fans of this series.

TO BUY and Recommendations: