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|THE CRUSADES: URBAN DECREE - 2001
by Steven T. Seagle and Kelley Jones
to him who evil does." So says the mysterious knight at the center of
this story as he sets to work dispatching criminals with lance and blade.
deluxe format, 48 page one-shot is actually a direct prequel to the series THE CRUSADES by the same creators. Created by Steven T. Seagle (HOUSE
OF SECRETS, UNCANNY X-MEN) and Kelley Jones (THE SANDMAN, BATMAN), with
writing by Seagle and pencils by Jones, THE
CRUSADES: URBAN DECREE tells of the sudden
appearance of a strange armored figure mounted on a horse who murders
criminals in the streets of San Francisco, particularly the henchmen of
criminal mastermind The Pope. In this
story, Howard Stern-like shock jock Anton Marx uses the knight as the
centerpiece for his show to boost his already-climbing ratings. Meanwhile,
Marx's facts-checker for his daily newspaper column (as well as his supposed
girlfriend), Venus Kostopikas, witnesses the Pope's men wiping out his
rival, Tony Quetone. As they turn their guns on her, the knight rides
in and cuts them down. The knight
also disappears as suddenly as he appears, and at one point we get a glimpse
of the knight's abode as he rides into the sewers and removes his gear
amidst sweating pipes. The origin of the knight has yet to be revealed,
as are his motives. I see
the slick format of the book as little more than a gimmick to get people
to pick it up. The first issue just came out, and it picks up directly
where this story ends. Furthermore, folks that pick up the first issue
will see references to events in URBAN DECREE and, while they're not really
being short-changed by a lack of explanation, there's no real reason for
writing is solid, and far surpasses the artwork (more on that in a minute).
The characters are interesting, and we are treated to the beginnings of
a side story of the strange relationship between Marx and Venus. Seagle
does a good job of capturing the attitudes and behavior of a stereotypical
controversial radio show host in Marx's raving monologues and his treatment
of callers. Another nice twist is the way Venus's mind wanders when he's
speaking to her. For instance, as she pursues Marx into the bathroom and
speaks to him while he's on the toilet, the fact-checker side of her is
already contemplating the history of the toilet in a set of quaint-looking,
two-tone panels. The art
is not bad, but many characters come off as looking fairly ridiculous
in certain instances. There are several exaggerated facial expressions
that just plain look goofy, and in other sequences where the knight is
laying about with his sword, there is a surprising lack of blood (for
instance, in one panel the knight has driven his sword up through the
bottom of a man's jaw, we see the blade in his mouth and the point has
emerged from the top of his skull, but there is NO blood). In some cases,
we get little splatters of grey matter.
I'm not blown away, but the storyline has me sufficiently intrigued to
keep reading for at least a few more issues of the regular series. I give
CRUSADES: URBAN DECREE three rabid fanboys.
Review copyright 2001
by E.C.McMullen Jr.