Casting your lot in with the devil.
Story/Art: Aya Kanno
Translation/Adaptation: Jocelyne Allen
Lettering: Sabrina Heep
Design: Jodie Yoshioka
Editor: Megan Bates
What They Say
Having made a pact to collaborate, Richard and Buckingham purge one opponent after the next. What will Richard do next in order to lay claim to the crown? Meanwhile, Elizabeth prepares for a counterattack…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Having removed the Woodvilles from their position of power, Richard moves to consolidate his role as that of regent. Not content with ruling in proxy, he plots to remove all those who would question his power. While there’s a great amount of pleasure to be taken in watching Elizabeth outmaneuvered, this volume focuses more on the tragedy of the shifting position of Catesby.
Catesby has been Richard’s protector since he was a very small child. He knows everything about Richard, and yet still knows very little. Protecting Richard from his enemies and trying to protect him from himself… well, that was a lost cause. Buckingham’s jealousy turns towards the only other person close with Richard. In the previous volumes, it appeared Buckingham couldn’t fathom that Catesby’s affection toward Richard could have been anything but carnal because that is what he himself desired. Catesby’s love of Richard is more filial, rooted in the devoted loyalty of a true knight for his lord. Catesby’s quiet devotion leaves even Richard questioning if his loyalty is shaken.
Richard’s oldest enemies return in this volume determined to take the power of the throne themselves. While Richard rallies allies through shows of force, coercion, or straight-up bribery they too seek to lure allies to their side. It is all driven to a head when Lord Hastings remains the holdout. Elizabeth manages to get her claws into him by appealing to his good nature. Playing the victim she claims he is her only friend and that she is a woman of god now, all the while plotting with Jane in the background.
One who does not return to grieve Richard is Queen Margaret. She is done with fighting and isn’t about to wager her soul on a lost cause.
The most vicious of Richard’s detractors’ returns from the shadows, his mother. After rumors about Richard spread around from the one guy who saw him naked that one time, Elizabeth decides to call upon the former Queen to hear what she has to say about her son. Giving up on hiding her secret shame, she divulges the truth to the coconspirators. She reaches out to them only after she attempts to expose her own son. Richard instead throws insult back at the injury she gave him by putting on a shameless and shocking display with Buckingham in front of her, flaunting his body and thus the failings of Cecily having given birth to him.
The tragedy of this volume isn’t in how far Richard has fallen, but how he has managed to pull Catesby down with him. Catesby was always the angel on Richard’s shoulder. Catesby saw Richard as the lonely little boy he was sworn to protect and guide toward the light. Yet now Richard has instead cornered Catesby and forced him to take aside. Catesby always accepted Richard for who Richard was, intersex features aside. For others to condemn Richard for those differences Catesby cannot condone. There is no more powerful image in this volume than the shot of Richard flanked on either side by Buckingham and Catesby. His devil and his fallen angel. As Catesby takes up arms against the man he served he casts his lot firmly in with Richard. As goes Richard, so does Catesby.
Unlike other manga that would fill the spare pages of a volume with anecdotes, gag comics, or author’s notes, Kanno simply places multiple black pages with the white rose of York surrounded by thorns. It is one of the more impactful pagination decisions I’ve seen in a manga.
Catesby has a decision to make, stand by Hastings and go with god or stand by his Lord Richard and follow him into the bloody hell which is to follow. Prophetic dreams haunt the court and war is in the air like the scent of blood. Richard has to use his own body as a bargaining chip to bribe and blackmail those around him, exposing himself to the very limits of acceptability and pushing his enemies to the edge. The young prices are oblivious to the machinations around them. This series continues to be a masterful reimagining of history, wonderfully dark, twisted, and appropriately tragic.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A –
Age Rating: Mature
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: November 12, 2019
MSRP: $9.99 US / $12.99 CN / £6.99 UK