“Ahoy Mateys!!” – says no one in this book.
Title: Warship Jolly Roger
Writer: Sylvain Runberg
Artist: Miquel (Miki) Montlló
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Keywords: Spaceships, revenge, Ship-hijacking, corrupt governments, creepy kids with unique powers, cinematic art
Type: Adobe Digital Edition via Netgalley
The year is 3852 and there has been a breach in the most maximum security prison. The prison holds the most notorious and baddest of the bad prisoners, including Jon Tiberius Munro. He escapes with three other prisoners, strangers to him, but due to circumstance they band together until they find a better opportunity to leave one another. The President (who kind of looks like Star Wars’ Tarkin) of the space confederacy is not pleased for he and Munro have a past. Munro doesn’t give a crap about whatever resistance is happening, or the government’s corruption. All he cares about is taking down the man who ripped his family away from him and will stop at nothing until he’s dead.
Throughout the first volume you see Munro and his “crew” travel to find a ship and escape detection, which of course doesn’t happen. In between the present story, you get to see Munro’s past while he was in the military. Although a renowned commander, he was used as a scapegoat during an approved massacre of a territory that was part of a resistance cell. Munro wants his justice, but the President isn’t going to take it lying down. He sets up a dangerous trap to lure Munro out of the shadows, a trap that he knows Munro can’t resist. The trap works, a little too well, and now Munro wants blood.
The book is an animated movie waiting to happen. The landscapes, the explosions, the lighting…you expect the actions in the panels to start moving any second. If you like the visual style of Treasure Planet (okay I know that’s a very old reference for you whippersnappers, but it was the first thing that came to my mind when reading this), you’ll definitely enjoy looking at this book. Personally, I enjoy good ol’ fashioned hand drawn comics with the aid of the digital arts (can’t be helped nowadays), but every once in a while it’s nice to look at a book like this. I’ve been a huge fan of what Magnetic Press puts out and this book definitely fits their art-book graphic novel line perfectly.
The characters are pretty standard: we have the protagonist who got Con-Air’d by the government, the tough woman mechanic who went to prison for fighting in the rebellion, the funny smuggler (who looks like a creepy trucker guy), and the creepy child who can control a mechanical Hedwig. And the child’s name is a number. Thirteen to be precise.
Munro’s escape and the flashbacks give you a good chance to see the worldbuilding in this story. Fans of space opera and sprawling space wars will dig the brief history you learn of this universe (if it is a different one from ours). The majority species seems to be human. Thirteen does meet a new species whose ancestors were human, but in order to adapt to their toxic planet evolved to something different entirely. They have evolved abilities such as telepathy, but I can’t help but notice the tribal look about them, dreadlock-like hair, tribal paint and all. And the fact they’re called ‘Parasites’ by the confederacy… Other than that, the cast is generally white (or at the very least look white), with the exception of the President’s secretary/assistant and maybe a soldier or two. Where are the different species? Are there different species? And if it is just humans, where are the other ethnicities? Perhaps this will be addressed in the next volume. After all, it’s hard to pack every aspect of your story in the first installment.
So this book is the start of an epic space opera, but still, I have to wonder….why the name “Jolly Roger”? I’m not sure if this book is based on our future, but in this story the name still has a significant meaning and connection to freedom, living on the fringes, and flippin’ the bird to the authorities. Take a look at what Munro says when naming the ship:
That’s why I wanted to rename this ship. A name that symbolizes this new life ahead of us…and the freedom it will defend…as the most feared confederate renegade…the Jolly Roger!!!”
I’m always a sucker for revenge stories and a misfit crew who learn teamwork and screw over the status quo. Put it in space and I’m definitely going to read it. The action and art pop out of the pages and makes you wonder why this isn’t animated already. Then again, I feel the comic format fits this story pretty well. I hope to see more character development, hopefully more alien races, and just plain old diversity in the next volume.