The Mercenary Sea
Story By: Kel Symons
Art By: Mathew Reynolds
Diamond ID: DEC130492
Published: February 12, 2014
“NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT”
Action and adventure set in 1938—The South Seas. Japan has invaded China. War in Europe is imminent. Ex-bootlegger Jack Harper captains The Venture, a refitted German U-Boat, with a crew of expats, mercenaries and treasure hunters. They do whatever it takes to stay afloat, often running up against pirates, headhunters, spies, and soldiers. They’re always one step away from the greatest score of their lives…or their certain demise.
This is one of those rare books that actually surprise me. I bought it on a total whim, I saw the listing on comiXology and added it to my pull-list based on the description alone. The South Seas? 1938? Ex-bootlegger turned retrofitted U-Boat Captain? Pirates, headhunters, soldiers, and spies? Oh My.
So tonight as I was surfing twitter trying to decide where to dig into my Wednesday I noticed a tweet from Siike Donnelly. I f I can share something I’ve learned with you it’s this, if a creator you respect likes a book you might just want to check it out.
So what was so surprising? Well the art for one, Mathew Reynolds’ mix of styles, silhouettes and almost animated series character designs are a treat. He also uses foreground and background focus techniques to great effect. Though I must admit the first thing his character designs brought to mind was FX’s Archer, this further set me up for the surprise.
This is one serious adventure book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s witty, even downright funny at times, but the prevailing feeling is that of a really tight movie from the 40’s. Kel Symons definitely has some chops, the story is familiar without being hackneyed, the characters are almost stereotypes but written enough off the norm to make them interesting.We follow our intrepid crew to a jungle island filled with cannibals, a two-fisted smugglers bar with the requisite beautiful woman and the dangerous men and it just draws you along until, boom the plot hits you square in the nose. I felt very comfortable reading this book, it’s well paced, the dialogue is quick and pithy – my favorite exchange happening during a possible job interview in which Jack Harper comments “Mister, Whatever travel agent booked you on a vacation in the south pacific in the middle of a war between the Chinese and Japanese must have quite a sense of humor” to which Doc (one of Jack’s crew adds) “or perhaps designs on you wife.” –
My first instinct was to give it the Indiana Jones seal of approval but I realized the more the story sunk in the more Tales of The Gold Monkey crossed with maybe Rat Patrol (for the team dynamic) it felt. Needless to say I’m hooked. If you haven’t checked this one out you really should.
I “appropriated” some pages for you to gaze at longingly… enjoy
I give The Mercenary Sea 4 “Ka-Chik”s out of 5! As Siike Donnelly said in his tweet #BuyThisBook
You can follow Kel Symons @kelsymons and Mathew Reynolds @batfish73 on twitter. Check out the book on facebook (facebook.com/themercenarysea ) and be sure to drop by Mathew’s deviant art page (batfish73.deviantart.com) for more of his cool silhouette work!