Review - Knights of the Living Dead

The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is certainly nothing new. In fact, it's one of the most storied tales in history, rife with valor, betrayal and knights. In all of its retellings though, it's a good bet none of them featured events like those in Knights of the Living Dead from Slave Labor Graphics.

The book is written by Ron Wolfe and illustrated by Dusty Higgins.

King Arthur is a truly troubled king. His wife, Guinevere, is set to be burned for her marital transgressions with Lancelot, something Arthur is leveraging to draw the knight out for combat. With Merlin at his side warning of the Travesty, Arthur stands resolute in leaving the gate open for Lancelot's arrival, despite the fact that there are other evils lurking outside as well.

Those other evils are zombies, a plague which Arthur and Merlin have been dealing with that has the entire kingdom fearful for their lives. It's not until Guinevere steps up and subdues the hordes that she becomes Queen, while Arthur resorts to the bottle. She enlists six of her most beautiful and powerful handmaidens to make up the Court of 7, taking the swords of the fallen knights and picking up the slack.

This wouldn't be a King Arthur story without the Lady in the Lake and she's definitely included here as well. She maintains a powerful hold on Anerin, a young bard obsessed with the lady for her beauty and charm. She promises him the fantasy of a perfect life, only it doesn't quite work out that way.

Knights of the Living Dead is more or less three different stories, all tied together by the common thread of the King Arthur Legend. The first two are tied together fairly well, as the first one features King Arthur lamenting Guinevere's choices and the second one features Guinevere herself saving the day. The third brings in the Lady of the Lake, making her just as evil as the zombies in the earlier stories.

Wolfe does a great job working the zombies into the Excalibur canon. It reads a lot like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, where the historical events just have a supernatural element added in. Granted, King Arthur as historical fact is slightly debatable, but there's enough of the core story here to grab onto where the introduction of zombies doesn't seem so far-fetched.

If there's one minor complaint about the writing, it's the constant reference to color. This is a gripe because the book is in black and white. Higgins art features jagged edges and some varying styles, all of which works. The black and white art itself isn't a drawback and gives the story of a Night of the Living Dead vibe, but there are some parts where hair-color is referenced as red for instance. The fact that it isn't red sort of snaps you out of the moment. Not a big thing though.

Fans of King Arthur will likely find a lot to like in Knights of the Living Dead. It stays true to the legend and adds in some twists that make it seem like a fresher story. The art is great as well, using a minimal approach to convey the gravity of the plague facing the kingdom. Zombies are getting to be a little oversaturated at this point, but using them in creative ways such as this does add a breath of fresh air in them as characters.

Knights of the Living Dead is available now.