Isaac the Pirate Vol 2: The Capital

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2005
By: Darren Schroeder

Creator(s): Christophe Blain
Publishers: NBM
From: USA
Price: $14.95(US)

The Pirate business isn't going to well for Isaac at the start of this issue. The ship that he and his friend Jack are on is commanded with by a treacherous Captain intent on charting new lands, even if it means slitting the throats of the real discoverers. As more throats are cut the ship turns into living hell. Isaac and Jack manage to escape and make their way back to Isaac's hometown where he tries to find the woman he loved, and the pair put their pirating skills to work for a dangerous band of thieves who rule the streets of Paris with fear and intimidation.

Coming into this series at #2 means it took a while to get to grips with the goings on. Blain's plotting is passed for a long series, so things move at a pedestrian base. The dark confines of a ship grow as oppressive for the readers as it does for the characters. As they travel to Paris they get caught up in a series of aimless diversions. Visiting some prostitutes becomes a strange quest involving mysterious cults and lavish estates. Eventually they, and the readers tire of the whole venture.

The arrival in Paris brings disappointment as Isaac finds himself without work and with no patience for the mundane routines of city life. Bain drops him and Jack into a world of petty thieves, bawdy drinking houses and and failed attempts to restart a life as a painter. Blain creates a life story for the central character that appears as haphazard. Events overtake the characters and they are forced to adapt.

An atmosphere of grime and dirt is created by Blain's use of a scratchy artwork style. Aside from the simplistic cartoon approach to characters the panels have the feeling of etchings, which effectively evoke a mid 18th century setting. The book is expertly coloured, with the palette of colours changing as suits the setting - dark greys and blues for life below decks, lighter greens and browns for the interiors of Paris.

The wandering narrative is pleasant to follow, but it wasn't very gripping. The style reminds me of older novels such as Kidnapped, The Virginian, and Moby Dick where events take precedence over narrative drive. The life of a pirate on display here is brutish, but definitely not short, and there's no sign of it stopping soon. The blurb on the back cover promises ComicsLit: novels in the true sense about exploring our lives, our feelings, our experiences so I guess the target market is amoral drifters with poor taste in friends and a disrespect for the sanctity of life. If that's you you'll love this, the rest of us might prefer the Disneyland ride.

In a Word: Becalmed.

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