It was announced on Friday that THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR, a six-issue series by myself and Simon Coleby, would be released by Vertigo Comics, launching in February. This was both very exciting and something of a relief, as The Royals is a series that’s been in production for a long time now. Labour of love is one way of putting it. I may have had hair when we started…
Here’s the cover for #1
Colours, as throughout the series, by JD Mettler (Deux Ex Machina).
Oh, and we’ll have variant covers by BRIAN BOLLAND too. You know the one:
So, that’s a thrill!
Anyway, onto the science bit: It’s World War II and, in this alternate world, the only people who have superpowers are Royalty. And the purer the bloodline, the more powerful an individual is. The most powerful ‘Royal’ is the immortal Emporer Jimmu of Japan, and the least powerful are some US WASPS who can possibly lift a jalopy a few inches off the ground to help you change a tyre etc. But despite the global conflict, all the Royals around the world have signed a truce not to get involved in this war of the ‘ordinary people’. But Prince Henry of England is watching his London be decimated by Nazi German bombers during The Blitz and he can’t take it any more.
But if he intervenes, will it help to end this war or will he take the global suffering to all new levels?
Lots of action, some huge, Hollywood budget-bursting set-pieces, enormous scale, a dark love story and a fair amount of sardonic humour too. It’s the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan meets Downton Abbey. We’ll be skipping forward a year with each of the series’ books, taking our leads – and above all it’s the story and trials of one family – through some of the primary events of World War II:
#1 – 1940, The Battle Of Britain
#2 – 1941, Pearl Harbor
#3 – 1942, The Battle Of Midway
#4 – 1943, Stalingrad
#5 – 1944, D-Day
#6 – 1945, The Fall Of Berlin
I don’t think you can underestimate the amount of work that goes into a World War II book. Or any kind of period book, for that matter, if you want to do it right. And we did want to do it right. That involved me incorporating a fair bit of reference photography into the script and doing my share of research on the major events we see in the series. But that doesn’t come close to the work the artist has to do on this type of comic. It’s one thing for the script to describe London streets during The Blitz, the Japanese fleet during the Battle Of Midway, Stalingrad etc, it’s quite another for the artist to detail those authentically. And Si and myself are both plane nuts, and there’s a lot of period aircraft in The Royals… We both agreed beforehand that the book would only work if these places and vehicles/guns looked authentic. If you felt like you were being transported there. And Si worked his little heavy metal heart out on it.
And it looks amazing as a result. Genuinely. You can see the toil that’s gone into this book. I think it’s the best work of his career.
Here’s an anecdote. A very brilliant comic artist Si and I know, who shall remain nameless, saw Si’s pages from The Royals at a convention a few years back and then had to go for a walk, because he felt he needed to up his game.
Reasons outside our control have held the book back too. But regardless, it’s finally being released, and we’re very proud of it and very excited to see it out there. And I love the fact that it’s coming via Vertigo, which feels like a perfect home considering the subject matter. I’ve read Vertigo comics going back to early Hellblazer, Morrison’s Animal Man, Sandman. It’s my first work for the company and it’s a thrill to be there.
Here’s the solicit:
THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR #1
Written by ROB WILLIAMS
Art by SIMON COLEBY
Cover by SIMON COLEBY
1:13 Variant cover by BRIAN BOLLAND
On sale FEBRUARY 12 • 32 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The year is 1940. As the Blitz destroys London and kills thousands, the Royal Family looks on. But in this world, the only people with special abilities are Royalty, and the purer the bloodline, the greater their abilities. So why don’t they stop the carnage with their powers? A truce between the Earth’s nobles has kept them out of our wars—until now. When England’s Prince Henry can take no more and intervenes, will it stop the planet’s suffering or take it to another level?
Writer Rob Williams (Judge Dredd: Trifecta, Low Life, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and Daken) and artist Simon Coleby (The Authority, Judge Dredd: Year One and Trifecta) team up to bring you this epic of World War proportions. History will be transformed in a way you’ve never seen before.