Staff: Everett Soares, Brian Brinlee, Michael W. Kellar, Jet Amago, and Cary Kelley
It knows what it is and doesn’t apologize, going full tilt into the world it made.
So we’re setting sail on adventure with issue #0 of Sky Pirates of Valendor by Jolly Rogue Studios. I am surprised that I haven’t come across more steampunky pirate indy comics yet. That might be because, while I enjoy the aesthetic, I am a bit jaded due to the media saturation following the deluge of all things steampunk and pirates that has hit me in the last few years. It’s kind of like zombies or vampires- I’ve just seen too much. That doesn’t mean I didn’t buy tickets for Abney Park and rock the hell out a few months back, it just means I’m a little hands off on the genre at the moment. That won’t stop me from giving an earnest review as I buckle my swashes and check out Sky Pirates of Valendor #0!
The comic itself is grayscale and while the art isn’t professional grade, it’s not sloppy either. There is a lot to look at in terms of detail and one can even overlook the faults. A few times the expressions didn’t match what they were saying but overall it’s not a terrible attempt, particularly for an indy comic. This comic does something a lot of comics do and have the characters just seem to kind of pose randomly (even in small ways) but it adds to the style and doesn’t do much harm (Marvel is terrible with this…). The real issue is when you start looking at the background characters. They are really poorly drawn sometimes and it doesn’t do the love I feel in this comic justice. It’s painfully obvious who the characters are and who is about to be killed off screen. It’s like super Red Shirt syndrome. If they didn’t get an intro at the start, they are totally expendable.
They drop you headlong into a plot via the first few pages. They are a little heavy on the exposition (“this is so-and-so my 1st mate and the only man I can trust”, “this is my wife”, etc). I suppose they had to do something as it is a bit of an introductory comic (being issue #0 and free for free comic day 2013) but it comes off as a little heavy handed. I do like the more stock fantasy races just kind of thrown in there with bear people and They make no apologies for the strong fantasy roots they have and let their hair down in terms of what liberties they take with the setting. For example, we get some very scifi weaponry at times but the main character prances around with a saber for no other reason than he is a pirate. While this works and makes a very magic-tech setting, it does leave the reader wondering a bit. I guess what I am trying to say is, it works and it doesn’t work because they don’t tell us much.
The lettering is fine. I never had any issue with it. I like how they have a bit of their own flare with the delivery of the narration. It has a jagged edge on the bottom like it was torn out of the page of a journal. The lines delivered via it also read like they were from a journal so it works out spectacularly.
Speaking of the dialogue, it does come off a bit frilly at times. The captain seems to talk like a pirate and think in a much more esoteric manner. While sometimes this could be used to effectively make a more complex character (a frequent trick of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman) it just doesn’t jive and we don’t get enough in-character dialogue to make the connection to this character’s more introspective musings.
I can get behind something that knows what it is and what it is doing. To this comic’s credit it is a lot of fun. You get what you sign up for- swashbuckling elves, bears with shotguns, airships, pirate jargon and that is exactly what you get. Cut it, print it, we’re good here!