Classics Illustrated #128: Macbeth

While I am not sure that horror fans would classify The Scottish Play as part of the genre, I’m going to say that an encounter with witches who play with the fate of a mad Scottish King can definitely qualify for #HorrorComicsMonth. So I saved this one for October.

Macbeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve taught it in English class for many years; part of it has to do with the nature of its story. It’s a bloody tale of treason and hubris with some of Shakespeare’s best writing and themes that apply so well today that you rarely have to change anything in order for it to translate over. I’d listen to, read, or watch any adaptation.

That being said, this isn’t the best. I’ve come to expect Classics Illustrated to be hit-or-miss comics. The covers are usually top notch, although on this one Macbeth looks like Thor for some reason (even if this predates Thor by about six years). But the art can be a bit stiff. Here, the art is by Alex Blum and it’s serviceable, as the characters say Shakespeare’s actual dialogue (with narration boxes moving things along), but it is a bit stiff and is largely absent of the spookier and bloodier elements of the play.

I imagine that this has to do with the way that Classics Illustrated issues were meant to appeal to not just kids but parents–in the sense that they were “safe” comics that wouldn’t cause “brain rot” or something. The series started well before the Comics Code came into being, but this issue was from 1955, so even though I don’t think this was ever submitted to the Code (there’s no seal on the cover), I’m pretty sure that it would have been Code approved. The murders happen off panel, there’s little, if any blood, the witches look like creepy old ladies, and all of the panels are brightly colored with very little effort made to give us the play’s creepy mood.

I’d love to see a really creepy, moody adaptation of Macbeth done by a current team. It doesn’t need to be full of gratuitous gore or nudity or anything, but something that matches what Shakespeare was clearly going for throughout the original play would be really fun to read.

As for this? Well, it was worth the $1.99 I paid for it and it’ll be a nice addition to my growing classroom collection, but it’s not something I’d tell you to seek out.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?

Keep (for my classroom library)

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