Review - Plunder #1

"They went after what they wanted. The world gave us nothing."

Being a pirate isn't always all it's cracked up to be, especially now. With sophisticated military operations capable of quickly ending any piracy situation, the idea of hijacking a massive ship with a small crew is becoming more and more outlandish. And even if the crew of pirates has been around the block a few times and have a system, it's doubtful that they'd be prepared for what they find on a ship in Plunder #1 from Archaia Entertainment. The issue is written by Swifty Lang, illustrated by Skuds McKinley, colored by Jason Wordie and lettered by Deron Bennett.

After facing off with an illegal Chinese vessel, a gang of Somali pirates tries to board what they think is a research vessel, only to find themselves in the midst of a massacre. As their worst nightmares become reality, the 14-year-old boy who went from translator to reluctant pirate not only becomes the key to survival, but must decide for himself how far he is willing to go in the name of self-preservation. That self-preservation comes against unspeakable horrors that none of the pirates are mentally equipped to handle.

Piracy is a concept that's got little to nothing do with the historical definition of the term; gone are the days of swashbuckling men with a "code." Nowadays, pirates are just about anyone with a boat, an AK-47 and the desire to put the two together, which is where Plunder #1 lives. Lang does a great job of essentially making all the main characters irredeemable--save for one possibly--and content to scuttle from one ship to the next, looking for loot. It's their latest target that really puts them on their heels and Lang is quickly crafting a pretty masterful horror tale as the pirates explore the seemingly abandoned ship they come across. That horror is left largely to the imagination, with a few choice eviscerations on display to guide the reader's mind in a certain direction; a direction that Lang is proving will not be shied away from in terms of its depravity.

There's a certain grittiness and unclean appeal in McKinley's illustrations in Plunder #1 that gives the reader a general sense of feeling dirty. All of the above is a funny way of saying that the art feels crude, but it works perfectly for the tone of the book. Many of the main characters have something about them physically that speaks to their life choices: a missing hand or a partially burned face for instance. These malformities at first make the reader think that the pirates are the horror on the seas, but their appearances turn out to be a perfect contrast for what the "true" evil looks like in what the pirates find on the abandoned ship. Wordie's colors choices skew red and orange, again reinforcing the notion that things are going to get worse before they get better and that a lot of blood will be spilled.

Plunder #1 takes a pretty familiar premise in terms of both pirates and unspeakable horrors and brings them down to Earth and the high seas. The mix of the two isn't quite as prevalent as finding strange things happening in space, but there's a certain isolation to being asea that easily replicates that of other stories such as Alien. Lang's script is extremely patient and unfolds deliberately, slowly pulling more and more of the curtain back for the reader to see what the pirates are up against. McKinley's illustrations are crudely presented and remind the reader that being a modern day pirate is anything but glamourous. Plunder #1 is a great first issue that doesn't look to pull any punches while delving deep into the horror side of things.

Plunder #1 is in stores now with interiors below.