Although initially born to house a host of mindless action comics in the ’90s, Image Comics has become a haven for creators to tell original stories that don’t fit in with Marvel or DC. So it’s the perfect place for forgotten sub-genres to re-emerge, and with A Man Among Ye, the resurfaced sub-genre in question is PIRATES! Or would it be referred to as Pirate Tales? Or Pirate Stories?
Regardless, it’s inherently great to have a swashbuckling comic on the stands. But this one has a bit o’ a twist: the protagonist is female. Dun, dun, dun! Yes, our lead is Anne, a red-haired lass who slices and dices with the best of them. But can she hold onto her position with mutiny and a stow-away at hand?
While it’s advisable in theory to have feminist takes on rusty genres, it gets trickier when you’re trying to peddle feminism and psychopathy. A Man Among Ye reminds me a lot of that Birds of Prey movie (remember when that was the biggest conversation topic in the news?). Sure, it’s great to give women strong roles usually occupied by men…but maybe that’s not the best idea when you’re trying to empower through a murdering psychopath of a main character.
This comic simultaneously goes out of its way to show how cruel and savage Anne is while also trying to portray her bloodthirsty, brawling ways as badass and empowering. Reminds me of the “lean-in” feminism Lindsay Ellis criticized in her video about how pandering “woke” Disney is.
In order to counterbalance this contradiction for the audience, writer Stephanie Phillips gives us a deformed, old, man villain: Governor Roberts. You know, like Pirates of the Caribbean. Except those movies, at least the first few, were sort-of charming. They didn’t have Kiera Knightly BURN A MAN ALIVE LIKE RORSCHACH (which, yes, Anne does in this first issue)…and also be a “girl boss.”
As for plot or character development, this doesn’t cover anything special. It’s mostly setup for plot points later. That might have been OK if the characters were complex or likable…but they’re all pretty ruthless and greedy.
Craig Cermak is a solid choice for conveying the period costumes. As for action, his work in the opening is fluid and compositionally sound without being over-the-top. Unfortunately, the period immersion is undone a little by the lack of background details. For conveying this period, an artist with the ability to draw grand scope is necessary, but Cermak isn’t quite up to the task.
Yes, it’s awesome that we’ve been blessed with a pirate comic. But it’s unfortunate the storytelling and art is uneven. That being said…I would like to see where this series goes. I mean, it’s it’s a pirate comic, so there’s built-in potential I hope isn’t squandered further. However, if you don’t inherently like pirates or violent swashbuckling yarns, this won’t change your mind.