Action Lab Entertainment 2015
Written by Robert Tinnell
Illustrated by Brendon & Brian Fraim
It has been over fifteen hundred years since King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have left the world. Now Kevin has dreams that Merlin appears to him telling him that the dark forces are on their way back and he must find Excalibur and free him. Only the dreams remain elusive to Kevin during waking hours so that they disturb him but he cannot recall them. This is how the story opens and it’s a nice insight into Kevin’s life and family.
At school that day Kevin McKnight meets the new kid, Ben Choi, at Huett Junior High School who is the target of the school bullies when Kevin steps in. The two become fast friends though during the rain as the two leave school and head to Kevin’s Aikido class Kevin begins to see Merlin during the waking hours as if he’s seeing a ghost. A ghost that only he can see.
During class however Maggie Winthrop is introduced as a new girl in town, from upstate, and suddenly she is in the circle of newfound friends. Also it’s obvious there’s a love triangle going on right off the bat as Kevin and Ben are smitten with the young lady and she flirts openly with Ben thinking smart guys are attractive. Ben’s the brains, Maggie the brawn and Kevin seems to the middle ground good at both but not quite on either’s level.
After class the three go for a soda and soon get to know each other better. Very quickly you get a sense of who these three kids are and that their budding friendship is no accident they all compliment each other and destiny, or Merlin, seems to have put them together for a reason though none realize that yet. The characterization is wonderfully done and I like that the time has been taken to really delve into what makes these kids tick. Though as Ben and Maggie bond over his science fair project once again Kevin sees Merlin in the rain as if he’s formed from the mists themselves.
Unlike most stories like this there’s an innocence here and it feels like this is happening organically as if Kevin is reluctant to remember his dreams and doesn’t feel he’s special enough to warrant any kind of special attention. With two new friends and being something of a new kid in town himself the three will be thrown into something they aren’t ready for and that is what makes it great. They haven’t trained for this they aren’t prepared this is fantasy to them something they never grew up believing in and Ben’s a scientist type as far from magic as one can get. That it doesn’t appear to be taking place in England is interesting as well and I look forward to learning how Merlin hid Excalibur and why Kevin can claim it. So this has all the makings of a perfect all ages coming of age story where they kids find themselves and what they are capable of.
The interior artwork here is really very good. I like the way it all comes together with a realistic cartoon style art and that when Merlin appears it’s slightly different than the rest as he should be. The artwork is expressive and descriptive and more importantly all age appropriate and that’s delightful.
Welcome to a new version of the legacy of the Knights of the Round Table one that is easily accessible, enjoyable and smartly written and wonderfully illustrated.