Top Alternative Publisher Comics of 2017 #3: Unholy Grail #5
Aftershock has found a direct line to my heart, and this is thanks to books like Jimmy’s Bastards, the aforementioned Animosity, and, here, Unholy Grail #5 by Cullen Bunn and Mirko Colak.
Unholy Grail tells an alternate version of the Arthurian Legends, where Merlin is a demon, the Lady of the Lake is a Lovecraftian goddess, and Arthur Pendragon is an unwitting pawn of these vile entities.
This gives the already dark tales an even more ominous tinge, and it comes to its climax in the chillingly macabre Unholy Grail #5, where Camelot falls into complete chaos in its quest for the Holy Grail at the behest of Merlin.
The Knights of the Roundtable stab each other in the back, Avalon falls to plague and war, and Arthur finally defies Merlin and the Lady of the Lake at great cost.
If you know a lot about the Arthurian Legends, then you’ll already know a lot of the plot beats about Morgana le Fey, the infidelity of both Arthur and Guinevere, and the bastard child Mordred. However, the twists that Cullen Bunn adds in the occult and Lovecraftian elements creates something truly fresh and new. There are no true heroes here; there are only men and women hung on the strings of forces they cannot begin to comprehend.
Mirko Colak and Maria Santaolalla make this world darkly beautiful. It’s gritty yet majestic, rough yet pristine, and dim yet vibrant. The visual elements are in balance with the narrative elements in a way that few comics manage to achieve. There are some great, bloody fight scenes in this issue that are especially visceral and gorgeous.
Bunn, Colak, Santaolalla, and company do some amazing work with this miniseries and its finale in particular. It was easily one of the best comics I’ve read this year, and it certainly earns its slot at #3 on this list.
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