I’ve had mixed feelings on Royals thus far. While the series’ first issue was excellent and seemed to signal great things to come, the rest of Vol. 1. wasn’t as consistently good. The series got hampered down by a revolving door of artists and narrative focus on the plot’s less interesting aspects. In Royals Vol. 2: Judgment Day, the royal family comes face to face with their Progenitors at last, and the future plotline about the last Inhuman reaches its climax. Does Vol. 2 end the series on a high-note?
Unfortunately, the volume’s first third or so is plagued by many of the same problems as Vol. 1. There are a lot of sci-fi characters and concepts introduced in a very short period of time, and it’s difficult to care about many of them. While I appreciate writer Al Ewing’s choice not to cram in large amounts of expositional dialogue, I still wish we had gotten a little more easing into some of the plot’s foundations. The rushed nature of these opening issues isn’t helped by some of the volume’s worst artwork. Once again, the series doesn’t have a consistent art team, and the vast differences in what characters look like (sometimes present even when drawn by the same artist) are distracting.
Thankfully, things pick up considerably after the first couple of issues. Once the Progenitors come into play, it feels like Ewing is more at home, delivering weird but delightful sci-fi tropes and aliens. The art also gets considerably better. Javier Rodriguez’s vision of the Progenitors is awesome, as are their renderings of planets and outer space. The action scenes are pretty well paced as well.
Other strong portions of this volume include those which take place 5,000 years in the future. Ewing’s writing in these segments is intensely purple prose and I love it. Sometimes high drama is just what the doctor ordered, and it’s that sort of over-the-top narrative that propels many of the volume’s best moments. One of Ewing’s greatest strengths as a writer is that he can deliver strong character work as well. The biggest strength that Royals Vol. 2 has compared to Vol. 1 is likely its devotion to fleshing out the cast and developing them in unexpected ways. The volume’s final issue is its best, with great emotional moments as well as some beautiful work from guest artist Mike Del Mundo.
Overall, Royals Vol. 2: Judgment Day is a solid ending to the series. There’s some great character work, cool sci-fi concepts, and a really well-executed ending. Unfortunately, the first several issues are a bit of a slog to get through, and the lack of consistent visuals throughout is distracting. Even when the volume is at its best, there’s a definite sense that the plot is being rushed along. It’s impossible to say for sure to what degree that may be the case, but it nonetheless feels like Royals would have benefited from slower pacing and more issues. Ultimately, though, this isn’t a bad volume. The ending makes the reading experience worth it, and I would recommend that anyone interested in the Inhumans give this series a chance.
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