¦ Reviews ¦ The
Red Seas - Under the Banner of King Death
Red Seas: Under the Banner of King Death
Edginton and Steve Yeowell
this book from Amazon.co.uk
What to Expect:
When pirate captain Jack Dancer and his motley crew relieve a Spanish Galleon
of it’s cargo they unwittingly take possession of the missing chapter of
a feared occult tome. Dr Orlando Boyle and his zombie
crew will stop at nothing to recover this artifact even if it means a three way
confrontation with Dancer and the devil himself.
Review by Stephen
23rd January 06
book collects the 9 episodes and sixty pages of this now fondly regarded strip,
which originally ran in 2000AD Progs 1313 - 1321.
This means the
strip debuted on 16th October 2002 almost a year before ‘Pirates of the
Caribbean’ opened in America on 28th June 2003. I mention this fact because
the similarities between the two franchises are inescapable. Both have lead pirates
named Jack who are pitted against a crew of zombies in a traditional pirate tale
with a supernatural twist. With the differing gestation periods between comics
and movies it’s difficult to see who first came up with the concept, but
Steve Yeowell comes out fighting in his interview
on this site when he states this series was originally
pitched to Epic comics years ago.
This debate is
similar to the ‘E.T.’ Vs ‘Skizz’ debate of a few years
ago and, frankly, if the product measures up who cares what its ‘influences’
short book has the difficult task of introducing an extended cast while also trying
to place the story in a historical context while also weaving in the supernatural
elements which will become a corner stone of the series in later adventures. Add
to this the need for an exciting plot and you will see what a difficult task has
been pulled off here.
The story opens
with action, with the second and third pages being an excellent double paged spread
which is also used as the end papers for the book. If it wasn’t in 2000AD
we’d thing we were reading a ‘Boy’s Own’ pirate adventure,
but the stakes are quickly raised when Dr Orlando Doyle makes his memorable, zombie
The story crackles
along with some great cliff-hangers and introductions, notably Erebus the wise
cracking, sooth saying dog’s head in a jar of vinegar - or is it brandy?
The story has many surprises along the way, most notably the early demise of Dancer’s
ship ‘The Red Wench’. The final showdown is well done, with a confrontation
that takes place in another world, dispelling all suggestions that this may be
conventional pirate fayre.
The witty and humorous
script by Ian Edginton is a cracker and it’s clear early on that the ‘The
Red Seas’ will be a long running series for 2000AD. The dialogue is funny
without ever being distracting although I do doubt 18th century pirates would
say ‘Great steamin’ arses’ but I could be wrong!
elements are not overdone and clearly Dancer and his men have no experience of
such matters, although the adapt pretty quickly especially to the floating dog’s
head! The swashbuckling heroics you’d expect in any pirate yarn are present
and correct as are welcome slices of sex and swearing!
an introduction piece, the story stands up fine on its own and it’s great
to see plot lines being casually thrown in which will be tied up in the volumes
to come. The salty dog seamen of Dancer’s crew predictably play background
roles but do serve well as comedic foils, delivering such lines as “Stitch
this y’maggotty bone bag”.
art is excellent and clearly benefits from being in black and white. The crisp
lines and momentum in every panel are a joy as are the detailed character designs.
The book also has numerous sketches from the development of the strip and I was
amused to see an old ‘Look and lean’ book being cited as a reference
point in his interview.
The book itself
is a lovely thing, presented in Rebellion’s now familiar graphic novel format.
The cover is great although slightly misleading. I wonder how many pirate loving
10 year olds will be given this based on the cover only to be bewildered by the
content! That said, the cover I mention is for the review copy and this differs
from that seen on Amazon, so this point may have already been addressed. Sorry!
The thick glossy
paper stock and the reproduction of the script are perfect and, as previously
noted, the endpapers are fabulously decorated by the two page spread appearing
in the strip, but without the captions and dialogue. To round off the package
we also get the original pitch for the series as well as the script for episode
one. The pitch makes for interesting reading and I wonder why Edginton was denied
the ragged page caption boxes that he so specifically requests!
An excellent strip
presented in an immaculate edition. Perhaps a touch pricey at £9.99, but
a bargain at Amazon’s £7.69. Go on, you deserve it!
this book from Amazon.co.uk
more 2000AD collections from the 2000AD Review shop