In 2011 I had the great honor of meeting a man most of us comic readers revere – Stan Lee. While I’ve always loved X-Men, I came across Romeo & Juliet: The War, as they’d just published it, and got my hands on the special collector’s edition, and got it signed by the man himself. It was a pretty surreal experience meeting such a legendary creator, and something I will definitely never forget.
Romeo & Juliet: The War follows pretty closely the story we all know of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. This story takes place in a war torn Verona, where two different genetically altered ‘families’ cannot come to peace over their differences. Like the original story, the two young people meet at a masquerade ball and fall in love pretty much instantly. They’re kept apart by intermittent fighting between their respective factions, leaving members of both families dead, and decide to marry to hopefully restore some semblance of peace to Verona. After Romeo kills Tybalt he must flee the city and Juliet takes measures to make sure that her family will never try to find her once Romeo comes back to get her, by appearing to die. A message about the plan never gets to Romeo and he ultimately storms Juliet’s funeral with a group of Montagues and gets himself shot by Paris. Juliet wakes up to find Romeo dead beside her and kills herself after a speech overheard by both heads of the separate families. At the end all does not seem lost as the Montagues and Capulets put their differences aside after the deaths of the two lovers.
I have to say that without changing a classic tale, Stan Lee and Terry Dougas did a wonderful job of reimagining it for a future generation. The idea that the two families were differently genetically engineered humans was awesome, and it made the fight sequences that much better. Max Work did a great job of writing this story, truly bringing to life this recreated classic. The artwork by Skan Srisuwan was phenomenal, and the collector’s edition offers a few huge cityscapes in particular that are frame-worthy. The battle scenes are fantastic and overall there isn’t anything bad I can say about the story or the art. This is a great graphic novel for people who enjoy reimagined classics, and those who prefer one shot comics, along with all of us who enjoy Stan Lee’s work in general.