Monday, March 31, 2014

Review - Anne Bonnie #1


"Bunch of sea jackals! It was better in the days of the pirate queen, I say! At least she kept them in check!"

The days of pirates on the high seas are long gone. Still though, the legends of some of those pirates live on, as does the notion that pirates adhered to some sort of code that governed them and directed their decision-making. The lack of pirate royalty leads to a leadership void, one that a pirate queen like Anne Bonnie historically filled well in Anne Bonnie #1 from Blue Juice Comics. The issue is written by Tim Yates and Lelan Estes, layouts by Tony Vassallo and illustrated by Yates.

Pirates are running the seas, as the pirate queen Anne Bonnie is no longer present to control them. That still doesn't prevent her from being a legend, one that's told to Ariana by Shen as they watch some naval combat taking place. Shen's shenanigans anger Lord Firestorm, who quickly puts him in his place and gives Ariana enough motivation to strike out on her own later on in life. It's not until years later that her path converges again with Lord Firestorm's yet again, only this time the stakes seem to be much higher.

Anne Bonnie #1 offers a pretty solid script that offers quite a bit of drama mixed in with levity. Pirates do rule the seas and the legend of Anne Bonnie is just that--legend. There seems to be some subtle hints that perhaps she may make a rather grand return (or that Ariana is related to her), but for the time being, the people are stuck with pirates. There's also some sense of magic in the world, offering a realm that's somewhat reminiscent of Skies of Arcadia, the old-school video game that featured sky pirates and magically propelled ships. Yates and Estes have done some pretty phenomenal world building in Anne Bonnie #1, definitely offering up a clever story that offers some real drama, yet is lighthearted when it needs to be.

The illustrations are very appropriate for the story, presenting characters who are cartoonish in nature. Their expressions are very emotive, offering plenty of context to the reader that really keeps them engaged in the tale. Each character also has a very distinct look, ensuring that there's no confusion as to who's who in the grand scheme of things. The level of magic in the kingdom is also appropriately illustrated, showcasing mammoth magma golems, rune laser grids and full-fledged pirate ships. Panels mostly resemble rectangles and squares, but they're used to pretty strong effect throughout.

Anne Bonnie #1 evokes comparisons to Princeless, another title that boasts an extremely strong and bold female lead. Ariana is a character who isn't scared to be thrown right into the thick of things. Lord Firestorm is being built up to be quite a sufficient villain in his own right, yet his motives aren't entirely clear. The story is paced exceptionally well and keeps the reader focused and the illustrations offer a great match to the dialogue. There's an all-ages vibe offered by the book that really makes the book feel welcoming to any reader, yet it simultaneously offers higher levels of thought that older readers will enjoy. Anne Bonnie #1 is a great book that really has some good things going for it and is worth checking out.

Anne Bonnie #1 is available now via Comixology.

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