Richard learns the terrible price of war first hand and embraces it.
Story/Art: Aya Kanno
Translation/Adaptation: Jocelyne Allen
What They Say
Richard’s father, the patriarch of the House of York, seems poised to become king of medieval England during the Wars of the Roses. But just as success appears imminent, he is attacked. Now in the midst of deep despair, Richard acts out in revenge and must face a powerful and beautiful new enemy.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The first volume of Requiem of the Rose King ended on a dark note, as Richard’s father was captured by the Lancaster forces. With the younger Richard locked away he’s unable to do anything until freed. With a tragedy this is all expected, especially since this tale being told is well worn, and it’s final outcome obvious to anyone with an inkling of the real historic figures whose legend is being rewritten here.
Every time Richard shows a hint of hope it is smothered in a vicious bombardment of the horrors of his world. His frantic ride to reach his father’s last known whereabouts is painful to watch unfold. We readers know that he rides only for ruin, and yet when he gets there and exacts his aimless vengeance on all opposing forces it rings hollow. He unknowingly sets up his own brother’s future downfall in the process, in a twisted and very Shakespearean ironic twist.
Through all of this Richard still struggles with his identity. He runs into bandits at one point who at first see him as an enemy soldier, then see him as a girl to be raped as a war spoil. Shaken by his narrow escape, Richard remains tortured by his mixed sexuality later when considering Anne Neville as a potential wife. The ghost that torments him reminds him of this constantly, and Richard wraps himself with the promise of vengeance and blood, pushing others and the light of love away.
Around Richard spin the tales of the last moments of his father, tortured at the hands of the Margaret. I don’t know why King Richard would believe the bloody cloth she waves in his face to truly be that of his son, it’s such a blatant lie. He dies a broken man, out of sight from his wife and sons but in the full glory of Margaret. They avenge him by driving back the Lancaster forces, but by then the damage is done. Edward takes his place as king and Henry finds himself free of the burden of leadership, much to the fury of his wife Margaret.
Edward himself confides in the Earl of Warwick, who keeps a wary eye on the philandering young man. It’s that nature of his that leads to Elizabeth Woodville catching his eye. Unbeknownst to him, her husband was killed at Richard’s hand and she seeks revenge on the Yorks. I’m not sure if it’s the Shakespeare influence or what, but there are few women characters in this story which aren’t portrayed as having a violent lust for power or revenge. Even the ghost that haunts Richard seems to delight in torment. Anne seems to be the only woman in the story without machinations for power.
There are no real extras, and no color pages, in this volume. There is a helpful page of character profiles and a summary of events to get readers back up to speed.
Requiem marches on, first to war and then back into the political machinations of the widows of war. Richard is usual portrayed as a tyrant, but here he is a young man tormented by the darkness of the world. His world continues to grow darker too, as he loses the one person who he looked up to. Instead of breaking he hardens, and the world plots against his family. Even with the blood and madness the artwork remains lovely. Aya Kanno’s unique take on Shakespeares’ classics continues to pull me into it’s twisted tale of desire and revenge.
Content Grade: B +
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A –
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: September 8th, 2015