The Mercenary Sea Volume 1 by Kel Symons & Mathew Reynolds
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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, and spies. Jack is always one step away from the greatest score of their lives: finding the legendary lost island of Koji Ra.
This trade paperback collects issues #1-6 of the critically acclaimed series, as Jack and the crew of the submarine Venture take a job offered by a shady American operative: rescue a British agent trapped behind enemy lines who has valuable information about the Japanese war effort.
The Mercenary Sea Vol. 1 is a promising start to what I hope turns out to be a really thrilling and exciting series. While overall I enjoyed this first volume, I feel like it has the potential to be so much more.
I didn’t quite find myself wholly invested in the story and the characters. Some of the scenes seem a bit rushed, and I would have liked to spend more time getting to know the characters. This does of course need to happen over time especially as we see each character develop and grow, but I didn’t find myself connecting with any of them until the last few pages of the volume. I would have liked to learn more earlier on as I often found myself forgetting who was who and whether they were allies or enemies.
That being said, I did enjoy the amount of action that came along with being thrust right into the story without the setup slowing down the pace. I loved how the combat scenes were executed - they were quite gripping in how fast paced they were, but also visually they were stunning and explosive.
Continuing on with the visual aspects of The Mercenary Sea, I absolutely adored the illustration style. In the absence of outlines, bold and contrasting colours created detail. The panels I found the most stunning were those with silhouettes - different shades were used in order to portray depth of field, but often these muted palettes were contrasted against a gradient of vibrant colours in the background. I couldn’t help but stop and admire them.
I’m really excited to see more of the story and the characters. It has such an intriguing premise, and with the dynamic between some of the characters, I’m sure there will be some amusing, awkward and/or hilarious scenes to come.