JUST JOSHING: Macbeth: The Red King

Macbeth was my Shakespeare play. In high school, Mr. Sharpe would make me read it, and I understand all the nuances of the story. How the three witches manipulated Macbeth to his fate, and his story is nothing but a tragedy. That is the Macbeth that colored even me learning Hamlet a year later. Macbeth, the tragic Scottish King.

History is a different matter. Macbeth was king for fifteen years and kept the peace by and large. His story is far more complex and I have to credit Shaun Manning and Anna Wieszczyk for telling their own version for reading. It was ambitious, and all in all, they told an amazing story.


The Book

Macbeth: The Red King

Written by Shaun Manning

Illustrated by Anna Wieszczyk

Publisher: Blue Fox Comics


The Story

Macbeth The Red King is the telling of Macbeth’s rise and fall from power. Issue one is Macbeth defending his Kingdom from Duncan, using his wits to defeat him. While you get a sense of Macbeth’s cunning and ruthlessness as he burns down a church of retreating soldiers, you also get a sense that he is a good man who has the loyalty of the men he had behind him. He was ruthless but had honor. He had taken the throne from Malcolm II, taking his wife and his son, Lulach as his progeny. In the process of this, in so doing sets the course for his demise as Malcolm III, starts to plot and scheme his way to that kingdom. He would have revenge.

Issue two focuses on the Queen, as Macbeth and Thorfinn head to Rome on a pilgrimage to meet his holiness, Lady Macbeth is attacked and sent to siege. Lulach fends them off, and they win the day, but not without Lulach being hideously scarred. My favorite scene in the whole comic is Macbeth and Lulach sharing a joke after that battle when Macbeth had returned to find Lulach in the hospital. They shared a bonding moment about the wounds and it highlighted their relationship perfectly. Macbeth tried to love Lulach while Lulach hates him.

Part three features Macbeth and Thorfinn in conflict, as Thorfinn was the one that arranged the attacks. No real winner is declared in the battle, but that wasn’t the goal of this conflict. Rather, Malcolm had arranged it to make two things happen. He wanted both the King and Queen occupied, while their forces were being depleted by the infighting.  Malcolm also wanted to form a bond with Lulach. Each of them didn’t buy a single thing the other said, but they used each other to get to a common goal of killing Macbeth.

And in part four, Malcolm succeeds, doing a lot of the same things Macbeth himself did in the first issue. If there’s only one thing I have to say about this in the negative is that the battle with Macbeth and Malcolm was anti-climatic. You knew it was over when it got there. That all said, I felt a little something with Macbeth? Would I follow someone like the man described in Manning’s tale? I have no idea, but I liked him at least.

In the end, Malcolm becomes King once he dispatches Lulach. It was a nice mirror to what happened in Part One. All in all, a very efficiently told tale with some great moments.

I have to mention how much  Anna Wieszczyk carries the art here. The characters’ costumes are all hers, as Manning himself in the introduction. The choice of red was a really inspired one, as the red color scheme gave a sense of both blood and Macbeth. In Malcolm’s scenes or anything to do with him, the color scheme was blue.  It was an interesting bit of storytelling because everyone in the story is touched by those colors. It shows you where each character stands without telling you. It gave the whole book a very intimate connection.

For all the politics, this story is about family, the family Macbeth created, and the ones he destroyed doing so, right or wrong. She does a great job doing the heavy lifting on the art and did some really inspired design. All in all, this is not Shakespeare’s Macbeth but a very good retelling of the events that occurred. If you like political intrigue and family issues, this is for you for sure.


The Business

It’s been a while since I did a column because I completed my first audiobook for a client. This weekend I’m doing the premier of my narration of Duatero by Brad C. Anderson. You can listen to it on episode 432 of my podcast Just Joshing. Right this very minute my guest is public speaker Yolanda Yvette. If you want to get a listen to how to deal with public speaking this is the episode.

Finally, my books are out. Alice Zero is available as is the Cloud Diver courtesy of Amazon. And I got other things in the pike coming down. I considered 2020 to be a year to make changes. That’s what I’m doing. Two books, my first narration. I can’t wait for what’s next.

That will do it guys. Stay true to yourselves, and keep surfing the chaos. I’ll be back soon enough.

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