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Looking Through the Longbox: Camelot 3000

This is a new quasi-sorta-semi-regular column (giving myself a lot of wiggle room) where I’ll recommend and give an extremely brief rundown of a comic title, run, single issue or whatever. I’ll do my best to keep it spoiler-free and just hit the basics to tweak some interest.

Warning: my tastes skew wildly but they are broad enough where they could synch up with yours somewhere. Not all of the comics I’ll be recommending will be award-winning breathtakers or will appeal to everyone, or anyone in some cases, but they’ve all given me a form of reading enjoyment, so take that as you will.

First up is Camelot 3000, an early 80’s 12 issue maxi-series from DC, by Mike Barr and Brian Bolland.

This was one of the earliest entries into direct market comic sales. The paper is the spiffy high quality Baxter stock, the colors are perky, and the price per issue was higher than normal. It was also one of the earliest entries in the Whedonesque “how long will you wait” file, with multiple delays throughout. The final issue came 1 year after the previous issue. Zoinks!

The plot: Earth is being invaded by aliens. The kind of aliens that kill everybody that isn’t them. Due to cancellation of the space program, Earth was unprepared for extraterrestrial hoodoo. Doesn’t look good for Earth. Who can save us?

King Arthur, of course, rising from a musty tomb and immediately kicking ass, killing a pair of aliens before even getting his bearings in this new world. Clearly, this is no complacent throne-bound king but a seasoned warrior. Familiar Arthurian staples such as Merlin, Excalibur and the knights of the Table Round soon join the story, but not without all drama and baggage that comes with the legends, plus the new troubles the Knights face in their reincarnated bodies.

Even at 12 issues, the pace is brisk and action-packed, stopping for plenty of character moments here and there but keeping a relentless drive towards the inevitable confrontations. Each Knight carries baggage not only from their past lives but from their current ones as well, as the old personalities are overwritten on their new ones. Duality and destiny are major themes.

Old enemies and old betrayals further complicate matters. As the plot moves along, we get a good sense of the heavy burden that comes with being the King. Many twists and surprises keeps the plot from becoming labored. There’s not an ounce of decompression to be found.

The Bolland art is strong; the action scenes are “cinematic” to an extent (though I tend to hate those types of parallels) and the facial expressions are evocative, colorful and perfect.

The entire story is collected in both paperback and hardcover editions, and the single issues are no doubt more than affordable at any LCS. So if this chunk of Arthurian Science Fiction sounds like it would appeal to you, check it out.

3 thoughts on “Looking Through the Longbox: Camelot 3000

  1. Good suggestion. At the time it was pretty bold stuff, and I’d like to read it again to see how it holds up. I remember the art being stellar (Bolland=greatness) but I think the coloring would be archaic, as it seemed old to me when I first read it in 92.

  2. Very good series, I read it about ten years ago, and enjoyed it quite a bit.

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