I’ve written before about how much I’m enjoying IDW’s Kill Shakespeare, by writers Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col and artist Andy Belanger. If you haven’t checked out my interview with Conor, I recommend it. He has some really interesting insights about his process and experience.
Issue #2 of the Juliet story arc was just released this week, and it really shows us how Juliet is beginning to evolve – this is, after all, the story that takes us from her weakest moment after Romeo’s death to the place where we’ve seen her in previous issues, as the leader of a rebellion.
One of the things about this issue that I really enjoyed is how Juliet masterfully deals with the condescension of those around her. She basically gets hit on by creepy dudes left and right throughout the issue, but she’s having none of it. Cornwall assumes that business talk is only going to overwhelm her, seeing as she’s a woman and all. But in fact, Juliet is anything but overwhelmed. When she learns that it is Cornwall who is responsible for her mother’s death, she sets out to have him killed, heading straight for a shady bar to hire a hit man. This is not the delicate, lovesick girl we know from the original play. In the second issue of her story, we’re seeing Juliet begin to grow into a badass character who knows what she wants and won’t be intimidated.
And near the end of the issue, when Cornwall is trying to kill her, it’s not a knight in shining armor who helps her out – it’s a group of other badass ladies, one of whom takes him out with a bow and arrow.
What I love about the female characters in this story is that they’re not just stereotypical “strong women.” Focusing on their stories isn’t a gimmick. These characters – and Juliet in particular, of course – are complete, well conceived, fleshed out people. And what’s more, the fact that they demonstrate the self-confidence to buck social norms is especially striking given the fact that it’s set both in Shakespeare’s time period and in the world of his plays. Although Shakespeare’s original female characters aren’t always just damsels – think of Lady Macbeth, or Portia from The Merchant of Venice – they were still informed and constricted by the social confines of their time, in a way that Kill Shakespeare’s reinterpretations of them are not.
So if you’re looking for a unique story with compelling female characters, check it out!