Since the trailer for “The green knight,” I have been craving for some medieval horror. And so, I came across this, a dark take on the well known Arthurian legend.
“Unholy Grail” is a short comic book written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Mirko Colak. As in the original story, we follow King Arthur and his advisor Merlin as he becomes king and rules over his kingdom. However, in this story, we start off with seeing the bloody and destroyed remains of Camelot as sir Percival returns with the holy grail, in hopes of saving the kingdom.
Then, we travel a bit back in time as Merlin goes to visit a dying Uther Pendragon when he is intercepted by a demon. The demon kills Merlin and takes his form. Unbeknownst to the king and his knights, the demonic Merlin arrives and there starts his cruel game with the future king Arthur as his main pawn.
I would usually say if there are spoilers in my review but considering everyone and their grandmother knows this tale it is safe to say that you know most of it. And that is in part one of its flaws. Although the comic brings a fresh breath to the story it did feel like it drew from it a bit much at times.
But even so, the comic was pretty enjoyable. To me, the best part was by far the artwork. It was so dark, bloody, well-drawn and all the pannels seemed like they had everything in them rotting or deteriorating. It always felt off and that I really enjoyed. There was even some eldritch horror mixed in. It really brought the story to life and made it that much more effective.
(image found on https://aftershockcomics.com/unholy-grail/ )
The diversity of the characters though made the resemblance to the original story insignificant. They were all far from what you would expect them to be. Merlin was rude, merciless and cunning, Guinevere was not just a pretty face and had a good although shortlived redemption arc, the lady in the lake is a tentacled monster. Perhaps out of most, Morgana had the best spin on her origin but I do not want to spoil it.
Even with its minor flaws, I loved reading it. It is not the best thing to read but it definitely is not a waste of your time. I just wish that it was longer because there really was space for more of the story and the ending just felt really rushed. Expanding it could have made it feel more organic and different and it would have been a far better reading. But Cullen Bunn definitely knows how to write horror and I will be looking into his work more.
Final verdict: 7/10