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Bear Pirate Viking Queen #1
Image Comics

Comic Books

‘Bear Pirate Viking Queen’ #1 review

A stereotypical character and watercolor art mar this dark tale of pirates and madness.

Captain Paul Reddish, mad captain of a pirate crew, wrestles with his sanity, his crew and a bear(??) in Bear Pirate Viking Queen #1, written by Sean Lewis with art and letters by Jonathan Marks Barravecchia.

I generally love a good pirate tale because pirates were the last class of people who were truly free (if they could dodge being captured, of course).  They lived off the seven seas and only followed their own skewed code of honor. But I didn’t enjoy this book, partly because Paul Reddish seemed like the same character we’ve seen in other better pirate stories (like Moby Dick).   Captain Ahab’s mad obsessions were gripping and you understood what made him the man he was. Reddish seems locked in constant battle with a huge bear on the ship, which most likely is just a figment of his imagination. I didn’t find much interesting about Reddish; the situations he and his crew get into throughout the book are more interesting than the character himself.

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The artwork holds the story back, too. Jonathan Marks Barravecchia does the entire book in watercolor, and at times the impressionistic art makes it hard to tell what’s going on.  I have nothing against the art itself – the individual cells would be lovely hanging in an art gallery, but in terms of telling a story, it makes discerning characters and the environment nearly impossible.  It’s the same issue I’ve had in the past with artists like Bill Sienkiewicz, another artist who dabbles in an impressionism.  In some panels, I couldn’t tell if I was looking at Reddish, the bear, or the ocean.  They just seemed to all meld together.

On the plus side, the book (which is a whopping 68 pages) never slows down, moving from action piece to action piece in a manner similar to The Odyssey, with Reddish and his crew battling against the Queen’s Navy, the forces of nature and even an ancient mythological-style being.  So even though the book is double-sized nothing in it feels like filler.

The sequence with the Queen’s Navy is especially thrilling as Reddish shows that, besides being a madman, he’s also a brilliant tactician too.

There’s a dark ominous atmosphere running through the book that makes the tale a borderline horror story, especially at the climax of the book.  If you’re looking for a fun, devil-may-care, Pirates of the Caribbean-style romp, this isn’t it. But if you like a book that’s a bit different from everything else on the shelves, give this a try.

Bear Pirate Viking Queen #1
‘Bear Pirate Viking Queen’ #1 review
Bear Pirate Viking Queen #1
A stereotypical character and watercolor art mar this dark tale of pirates and madness.
Reader Rating1 Votes
9.1
The book is filled with action and never slows down.
There's a dark and gothic atmosphere throughout.
Main character Paul Reddish seemed very cliche.
The watercolor artwork is an impressionistic style that makes it occasionally difficult to understand what's going on.
6
Average
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