Battle for the Crown is now well underway, with Mingulay’s temporary inhabitants dropping like migrating lemmings. As incidental cannon fodder characters fall, so others are beginning to rise into increasing prominence. Most significant is Prince Hadley, a maniac unhinged since the death of his mother a decade previously, who is revelling in the slaughter and easily racking up the largest number of kills so far, while also showing the largest variation in kill methods.
Like all good sporting events lapped up by the masses, people are betting on who will survive the slaughter and emerge as the ultimate victor. TV presenters discuss the odds various royals have of coming out on top as though they were racing commentators, delivered with such analytical detachment that’s seemingly oblivious to the carnage generating the scores that you almost expect John McCririck to appear at one side, gaudy jewellery gesticulating at the studio cameras.
As well as the battle itself and TV’s gleeful reaction to it, there are also some wordless cutaways to some mysterious characters who are watching the action unfold on TV and online. While we’re granted visual clues to their identities, their significance to the story and how they will later play a part in it is yet to be revealed. We also get a brief history of how Mingulay was transformed into a two and a half square mile battle arena, which also manages to sneak in some more information about what an insular and isolated nation the UK has become under the governance of the Austerity Party.
Although Royal Descent’s very premise is unabashedly controversy-baiting, it still manages to up the ante on itself, and if the final page is anything to go by, absolutely no punches are being pulled. What with the decapitations, explosions, strangulation, shotgun blasting, neck-slicing and eye-gouging, this might seem like a redundant statement, but this issue’s end nevertheless reminds you there are always further boundaries that can be pushed, and it’s highly unlikely this is as far as the comic will go.
INFO: ROYAL DESCENT #2 / AUTHOR: JOHN FARMAN / ARTIST: JOHN HOWARD / PUBLISHER: VITAL PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW