Review: Blackbeard, Legend of the Pyrate King #1

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With a story by filmmakers Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project) and Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch, Altered), and written by comics writer Robert Place Napton (The Dark Wraith of Shannara) and screenwriter Jamie Nash (Altered), Dynamite Entertainment releases the first issue of the story of Blackbeard, one of the most dread pirates of his day.

blackbeardCOVER.jpgTitle: Blackbeard, Legend of the Pyrate King #1
Written by: Robert Place Napton and Jamie Nash
Story by: Gregg Halle & Eduardo Sanchez
Art by: Mario Guevara
Colors by: Romulo Farjardo, Jr.
Letter by: Bill Tortolini
Cover A by: John Cassady (50%)
Cover B by: Lucio Parrillo (50%)
Research by: Steve Fussell

We open the issue with the life story of Blackbeard, also known as Edward Tech, on the storm swept deck of a ship. But, this is not a ship belonging to Blackbeard, but one on which Edward Tech slaves away under the oppressive lash of Captain Richards. As the storm rages the ship is tossed like a child’s paper boat. High above the deck, a young sailor’s inexperience has placed himself in danger, as well as the lives of everyman on the ship. Tech, the sailor soon to be known as Blackbeard, risks his own life to save the man, and the story of a Pyrate King is set into motion.

Edward Tech is a different man than you would expect Blackbeard to be. As mentioned, he is not a Captain, but a conscript on the ship of Captain Roberts, a cruel man who has no compassion.  But the story begins well before that, as we are introduced to the child Edward Tech years before through a series well timed flashbacks. We see small glimpses of a boy who grew up hard and get a feel for how many of the people of his day must have lived. When you have a creative team such as the one that graces this book, you have to wonder who did what. Hale and Sanchez wrote the story, and Napton and Nash, presumably, wrote the comic script. While I would sometimes worry about to many cooks spoiling the stew, this is defiantly not the case here.  There is richness that draws you in and immerses you in their world. Early into this first issue, you find yourself wondering how this man, willing to risk his life for a fellow, ends up becoming the legendary Blackbeard. Odder still, you find yourself rooting for Edward Tech.

One of the stand-out features on the writing of this first issue are the transitions. I know that the term “cinematic” gets thrown around the comic world easily these days, but this is truly one of those stories that deserves to be called such. The transitions from the story’s present to the flashback sequences are placed as you would expect them in a big budget movie, they just slide right together.

The art team of Mario Guevara (Solomon Kane Castle of the Devil) and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. (Battlestar Galactica: Ghosts), bring the world of 1713 to life. There is clarity to Fajardo’s colors that make Guevara’s art pop. The night skies aren’t just black, they are shades of indigo and grey that makes the night look real. Things like the early morning sky, complete with pink clouds, catch your eye and look entirely natural. The seas itself, an important part of a sea-based story, is more than just blue, there are distinct shades that stand out from one another. Guevara’s art work looks appropriate for the period as well. His lines are loose, but they form the basis of tight work. Ships look like ships and the clothing all seems to carry an authenticity that I have seen lacking in a few other pirate book efforts.

From the first pages I was drawn into the story, and I think you will be also. By the last page, I was cheering Tech as he took his first true step on his way to becoming Blackbeard. Ships battling on the high seas, kidnapping, acts of sacrifice, defiance, torture, and the loss of innocence and much more make this a book to look forward to.
It is in comic stores on October 14th.  I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

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