Page 45 Review by Stephen
"This week, one of history's feistiest fighting females! It's the Tudor Tigress, the lean, mean Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I!
"Elizabeth, you might be the world record holder for the most insane family drama of all time!"
Our cadaver-questioning host then catalogues what is probably the most insane family drama of all time by hailing two Marys (sister and cousin) a furious father bent on beheading (Henry VIII - amongst those on the chopping block, Liz's own mum), family fights over the throne, further bumpings-off and finally Philip II of Spain, former husband to her dead sister, asking for Betty's hand in marriage and not taking rejection too well. Most young men would have slunk off sheepishly and ordered in pizza. Philip II ordered out the Spanish bloody Armada!
"First we blasted them with cannons! Then we sailed shops of fire into them! Then God got in on the action, and stormed them to death! Don't mess with The Bess - she gon' open up a can of whoop-ass!"
Was history ever this energetic?! I love how Adam Murphy introduces his victims (well, they're all dead) like Kermit The Frog or potential pugilists in a boxing ring. He does give some of them what-for, mocking Guy Fawkes' chronic incompetence like nobody's business.
I wasn't going to review this purely because with the best will in the world I can't review multiple volumes and every single series and sales of CORPSE TALK SEASON 1 have been so spectacular here that this will be snapped off our shelves as fast as we can stock them. Then I made the mistake of reading at random the headstone-like headlines of a couple of these corpses and couldn't put it down.
There's an annotated poster postscript to Queen Elizabeth I's interview which is equally riotous, revealing the domino effect which began with smallpox and was escalated by her decision to cover up the scars with her trademark, trowelled-on white slap which contained poisonous lead which robbed her of her hair and possibly even her life. Who knew that she wore a dress embroidered with fantastical sea monsters to declare that she ruled the waves? (Those sea monsters are worthy of fellow PHOENIX funster Gary Northfield, by the way.) There's also a fab Fire Of London double-page spread.
Please see my review of CORPSE TALK SEASON 1 for a more detailed exhumation of this grave old world, but let me remind you of this: like Simon Schama, Adam Murphy - with arms admittedly more flailing; oh dear me, but the exuberant cartooning is exquisite - proves that history isn't inherently dull. It's only tarnished by those already worn out themselves.
Don't think it's dumbed-down, either. Entertainment and accuracy aren't incompatible, and high scores are always achieved by getting straight to the points. The amount of information Murphy can cram into two comicbook pages with unerring coherence (not just eloquence, but by joining up the thematic dots) is masterful and provides a vivid snapshot of at least one aspect of these celebrities who have long ceased to be.
Also this volume: Laurel & Hardy, Sir Christopher Wren, Pocahontas, Billy Shakespeare, Vlad The Impaler, Henri Matisse, Oliver Cromwell and Maria Sibylla Merian. Who? Well, that's part of the point. Let's keep these living legends alive! Umm...