Way back when in the days of old, when MOMB had a far more complicated text editor & I still pretended to be a monkey for the sake of the internet, I made the point in a review of The Order of Dagonet that one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much is because I had always hated A Midsummer Night’s Dream & that any book featuring Oberon, Titania or Puck getting thumped in the mush was alright by me. Now time has passed & though many things have changed, my opinion of Shakespeare’s big fat Fairie wedding hasn’t. However with issue 6 of The Order of Dagonet finally finding its way to the top of my to review pile I can certainly say that I’m looking at one of the central characters a little bit differently.
Issue 6 begins with Lord Tottington chasing a young girl onto a train that appears to be far cleaner & more efficient than any we’ve ever seen in this country. At first I thought that the series had encountered its first glaring error & was about ready to write a strongly worded email but as I read on I realised that indeed there was only one way we could have such a magnificent train in England, yes, magic! You see Tottington has gone & got himself captured by Titania Queen of the Fairies & as a result has to sit & listen to her moan about her lot in life. Given the sort of people we usually get approached by on trains (or trams) in Blightly, Titania actually offers up some genuinely interesting conversation by comparison & after 420 years gets something she well & truly deserves: A little bit of character development.
Now the chances are Whitley’s take on Titania will possibly have Will.I.am Shakespeare (to give him his street name) turning in his grave with enough centrifugal force to power the entire Eastern seaboard, but you know what? That’s a good thing, Electricity is overrated & so was Shakespeare. Whitely offers up a legitimately interesting take on the queen of the fairies that will certainly make most people do a second take & think about her again. You may sit there & wonder, “How can she moan? She’s a queen. It’s all public engagements & waving at plebs before a small child hands her a bunch of flowers”. But this is Titania, if someone hands her a bunch of flowers she’ll most likely turn it into an enormous forest that eats Bristol, right? No, not remotely as it happens & this is why issue 6 in particular sees Whitley (& Strutz – who I’ll come to momentarily) deliver his strongest performance yet. Titania has been this series villainess for 6 issues but when we finally get to sit down & have the sort of interview with her that Andrew Marr could only dream of we find that there is a genuinely sympathetic & woefully misinterpreted character lurking beneath the grass skirt & leafy crown.
So with Whitely winding up Shakespeare in an effort to solve the world’s energy crisis it may not seem like there’s all that much left for Strutz to do, so he chooses to spend 28 pages showing off instead. While Strutz work has always been colourful & attractive he chooses now to show that he can also do large scale. The story of Titania & the way it looks are befitting of a woman who has lived so long & the scope of the artwork lends the story a sense of the mythic. As we get to know more of the Green Queen however we also get to see more of her Kingdom, somewhere equally epic & pretty that looks like Swamp Thing’s idea of a great night out.
Look if the last 650 odd words haven’t convinced you to buy The Order of Dagonet then maybe it what I’m about to say will. It features one gratuitous use of the word “Wanker”, a word I was convinced Americans had no idea existed & also mentions Nicol Williamson’s performance of Merlin, long may he rest in peace.
You can buy the Order of Dagonet from the Firetower website or just take ludicrous advantage of their generosity & read it one page at a time every Friday for free, but if I were you I’d buy it or the Queen of the Fairies might get you.