Although Royal Descent’s first issue is mostly scene setting, backstory and exposition its pace does not slow even for a moment, and launches immediately into its provocative premise. Perhaps in reaction to a large portion of the country believing that someone should attain a position of royalty for actually achieving something as opposed to simply being born, the current monarch and the 49 specimens in closest genealogical proximity to her have been dumped on the uninhabited Hebridean island of Mingulay and must systematically slaughter each other in a quite literal battle royale. The resultant blue-bloodbath is televised throughout the country as the mass entertainment and when it’s all over the last one standing is crowned ruler of jolly ol’ England.
While this is an engaging enough concept in and of itself, it gets intentionally inflammatory when you realise that the aristos in question are all thinly-veiled fictionalised versions of the current crop of real-life gossip-baiting toffs who by accident of birth have been elevated beyond us mere mortals, their names slight variants of the ones you’ll be familiar with and their appearances eminently recognisable. But in the standard declaration of ass-covering disclaiming, this is of course completely coincidental.
It’s precisely the kind of controversial setup about which the Daily Mail agitates itself into apoplectic fury (the comic’s cover even proudly boasts a derisive condemnation from the elitist muckrag) and having already made the leap into improbability, the story abandons any pretence of restraint, with a clifftop plummet and a machete decapitation by the third page.
Off the island, the world where such a sadistic bloodsport can exist is displayed in all its dystopian glory as the fearmongering nightmares of the ‘90s have been realised. BSE became the virulent contagion it was feared to be and replacement synthetic food began poisoning people, leading to civil unrest, rioting, martial law and the collapse of society. The Austerity Party now governs the country, and with a name like that it’s only a matter of time before their nefarious agendas are revealed. But for now, the carnage has only just begun.
4 down. 45 to go. Bring it.
INFO: ROYAL DESCENT #1 / AUTHOR: JOHN FARMAN / ARTIST: JOHN HOWARD / PUBLISHER: VITAL PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW