In this lush, graphic novel retelling of the legend of King Arthur, all the familiar characters show up in glowing color on each paneled page: the boy king of myth, his advisor and mentor, Merlin, the loyal Lancelot and beautiful Guinevere, and of course, Arthur’s evil half sister Morgana and her son Mordred, the warrior fated to bring about the fall of Camelot. Who hasn’t seen or read some version of this classic tale, whether it was Disney’s innocent Sword in the Stone or Marion Zimmerman Bradley’s much sexier and way more feminist Mists of Avalon? What makes this adaptation stand out to me is the epic storytelling that feels almost Biblical in nature. As a big fan of the Arthurian legend, I feel like I’ve seen and heard it all when it comes to Excalibur, but Lee and Hart (the team that also created this classic graphic read) have rendered the myth to nearly Christ-like proportions. Arthur, who has pre-knowledge of his own death from the very first page (hmmmm), gathers a group of loyal men around him in a literal circle (knights of the round table or disciples?) and is eventually betrayed by those closest to him seems very Jesus Christ Superstar in these pages. He even rises again to rule in the fairy land of Avalon (i.e. heaven) and is finally reunited with his true love, Vivianne, aka The Lady of the Lake (or maybe Mary Magdalene?) Gorgeous from start to finish, this is one GN that you may want to own so you can page through it again and again. For a truly Holy Grail experience, pair it with Philip Reeve’s gritty Here Lies Arthur.
Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur by Tony Lee & Sam Hart