‘The Mercenary Sea’ is an exciting throwback to the pulp adventures of yore

(Image Comics)

I love pulp adventure stories – and The Mercenary Sea promises good sailing.

Writer, Kel Symons tells us a story, set in 1938, about Captain Jack Harper and crew sailing the South Seas looking for smuggling work, contraband and a mysterious island supposedly loaded with gold … and danger. Along the way, they encounter friendly cannibals with a yen for the bright lights of Hollywood, American OSS operatives and bounty hunters looking for Captain Harper’s head.

This story’s got everything a pulp story in the finest tradition should have: intrigue, mystery and the promise of extreme adventure. I love the array of characters Symons has created for us. All of the crew have their unique skills and talents along with enough of a shady background to keep them on Harper’s submarine and out of the public eye for some reason. They’re a crew of true rogues, simply trying to keep themselves employed and fed.

It’s a good first issue; it introduces the reader to the characters and allows a brief glimpse into their backstories just enough to create interest but not any emotional investment – not yet. Additionally, the cliff-hanger ending is perfectly true to pulp story form, obviously provoking curiousity about Issue #2.

(Image Comics)

Mathew Reynolds’ artistry provides us with images that have a late thirties, Art Nouveau style. Flat perspectives and bold colours are completely historically accurate for this story and place all of the events and characters completely in context. This is my first introduction to Reynolds’ art and I have to say that I am not disappointed. To me, there seems to be some influence of Howard Chaykin in his drawing, which would also be appropriate for the story’s historical period.

At times, the pace seems to slow a bit, but again, this is a first issue and the whole purpose is to set the stage for future story development. Still, to me, that’s not so much of a concern. Good character development drives a good story and The Mercenary Sea is loaded with a fantastic range of heroes, villains and supporting characters with extensive potential for great adventure.

It’s a great opportunity to be introduced to the talents of these two comic artists. I’m excited about this comic and even if I wasn’t a sucker for a good pulp adventure, I think it has the potential to be an awesome addition to comic fans’ pull lists.

About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.

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