- Posted by Ed Sizemore on June 29, 2009 at 7:57 am
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
- CREDITS: story by Matthew Shepherd; art by Michael Shoyket
- PUBLISHER: SLG Publishing; $3.50 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Peter Blood was a soldier who choice to put away his sword to become a doctor. However, during the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion against King James II, Blood treats the town’s lord, who is an ally of the Duke. For this act of treason, Blood is sold as a slave to the plantations in Jamaica.
Captain Blood: Odyssey is based on the 1922 novel by Rafeal Sabatini. The book has been adapted into three Hollywood movies; the most famous is the 1935 Captain Blood, which made Errol Flynn a movie star. This, however, is the first comic adaptation of the novel. I haven’t read Sabatini’s novel so I can’t comment on how accurate an adaptation the comic is.
Captain Blood is an adventure story set against the backdrop of real events. I like the use of specific historical episodes to give the book a more tangible feel. This story doesn’t take place sometime in the 17th century; instead, the book opens in 1686. Knowing this means we already have an idea of the people we will encounter, the political climate of the time, and even the clothes they are likely to wear. Shepherd and Shoyket have chosen to make this comic as accurate to that section of the 17th century as possible.
Shepherd writes a sharply paced and engaging comic. I was impressed with how quickly he was able to tell Blood’s backstory. There is no excess in Shepherd’s writing. We are given the circumstances that lead to Blood being a slave in Jamaica and no more. Once we are up to speed, Shepherd keeps the narrative moving by focusing on key events. At the same time, the story doesn’t feel rushed or that we’re getting simply an outline of the events.
Shepherd also does a good job with the dialogue. We are spared tortured attempts at Shakespearean English loaded with ‘thee’, ‘thy’, and ‘thou’. Instead, the educated and aristocratic speak with an eloquence that sounds old-fashioned to modern ears. They are polite and use either suggestion or metaphor to make a barbed point. The working class speak plainly and directly. It’s a subtle detail, but it reminds the reader how important class distinction was during this period.
Shoyket’s artwork is superb. The use of sepia tone is perfect to give the book a historical feel. Shoyket’s work is loaded with details. I have two minuscule qualms with the art. Shoyket has chosen to give the comic a sketchbook look. This includes keeping the pencil stroke marks. I would have preferred the line work be blended to remove these marks. Second, there is a lot of shadow in this book, which is probably accurate to a time when the sun and candles were the only light sources. However, I would prefer less shadow so that more of the details are visible.
Caption Blood: Odyssey is a great comic. It’s everything you want from a good historical adventure book: it gets the historical details right and moves quickly. I look forward to each new issue and the eventual graphic novel. Go experience life on the high seas with a well-educated pirate. Previews are available at the publisher’s website.
(This review is based on a PDF copy of the comic supplied by the publisher.)