Cullen Bunn's Unholy Grail makes a mission statement for itself from the outset. It begins with a scene of offerings King Arthur made to the lake from which the Lady sprang, and it immediately turns to a gore-ridden and rotting battlefield of dead knights and warriors with Sir Percival returning to Camelot with the Holy Grail itself.
Unholy Grail gives a different telling of Arthurian legend, one where Merlin was truly replaced by some form of higher demon and aimed to control Arthur after the passing of his father, Uther. In addition, the Lady of the Lake is some kind of aquatic monstrosity that will only give its blessing in exchange for offerings of slain kingdoms.
This is a deliciously grim book with a lot of gore, offering a lot of promise for an unsettling and delightful series centering around a King Arthur who commits atrocities inspired by the dark tutelage of the false Merlin.
The story focuses on two characters: the returned Sir Percival and the false Merlin in the beginnings of his schemes. With this description, the primary flaw of the story is shown: the story is confusing due to the massive time shifts. With enough re-reading and focus, one can parcel out the timetable of events. However, it may confuse those less familiar with Arthurian legend, such as yours truly, on the initial reading.
Once one gets past the slightly confusing plot, there is a lot to admire in this book. It gives a bleak depiction of a world that is generally considered full of wonder and heroism. It shows a poisoned version of this world where something went very wrong in its beginnings.
The art is a perfect complement to this tone with gritty depictions of rotting bodies, awe-inspiring supernatural figures, and harrowed heroes who know not what they've stepped into. Mirko Colak puts forth a masterful peace of graphic art.
Unholy Grail is a fantastic tale, and is quite worthy of your time and money. Look out for this one when it comes out; it is quite a ride.
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