cover image Prince of Cats

Prince of Cats

Ron Wimberly. DC/Vertigo, $16.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2068-6

There is a long and rich tradition of re-imagining Shakespeare examples include the Tempest-inspired SF movie Forbidden Planet, the fascist Britain that never was of director Richard Loncraine’s Richard III, and West Side Story’s modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Now former cartoonist Wimberly adds to that body of work with this new version of Romeo and Juliet, set in a Japanese-flavored futuristic New York and focusing on Tybalt, the eponymous Prince of Cats. Proud and as easily affronted as any Renaissance-era Verona aristocrat, Tybalt seeks love and a place in the world, but finds only violence and needless death. The stylized graffiti-inspired art doesn’t shy away from the violence of the story, reflecting the brutal world the protagonist sometimes finds himself in, but the impact is somewhat dulled by overly dark coloring. The setting and recasting of the characters as African-Americans invites a comparison with West Side Story and its racial conflicts, and serves as a similarly worthy recasting of the timeless waste of feuding factions. (Sept.)