Sea of Thieves #1
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Rhoald Marcellius
Colors: Sakti Yuwono
Letters: Jaka Ady
Cover artists: Rhoald Marcellius, Game Art and José Carlos Silva
Editor: Tom Williams
Publisher: Titan Comics
Price: $3.99 US
There were two things that caught my eye when I saw the solicitation information for this comic book. One was the fact that the title suggested nothing else than a pirate comic, and it’s been ages since I had one, and the second was the fact it’s written by Jeremy (The Unstoppable Wasp, Princeless) Whitley, who’s developed a solid reputation for fun storytelling in the medium. That reputation is in no danger, as Sea of Thieves is replete with everything that makes pirates colorful and fun, and an array of larger-than-life characters that really grab the reader’s attention. Whitley is also well known for crafting stories featuring strong female characters, and that holds true here as well. In preparing this review, I discovered this is apparently an adaptation or spinoff of a Microsoft video game. I had no idea such a game existed, but I’m pleased to report knowledge of the game isn’t at all necessary to enjoy this comic book.
The two children of the world’s greatest pirate and adventurer, now both pirate captains themselves, are drawn back to their father’s old stomping grounds — the Sea of Thieves — where they’ve been promised information that could lead them to the greatest treasure they’ve ever imagined. Of course, there’s only one treasure and two siblings, and so begins a race between a brother and sister, and their pirate crews, to brave the Sea of Thieves to win the prize. Of course, the dangers on the open water aren’t the only challenges with which the captains must contend; they also have to manage crews full of criminals and hotheads, upon whom they must rely to achieve their goals.
Rhoald Marcellius’s exaggerated, angular style brings a lot of personality and flair to a plot and cast of characters that demand it, so he’s a great fit for this comic. His work looks like a blend of the styles of Joe (Battle Chasers) Madureira and Todd (Young Justice) Nauck. The female characters — and there are several of them in key roles here — are all lovely, but he doesn’t oversexualize them either. There’s a lot of detail here — both in the character designs and the setting, a tavern called the Unfired Pistol — and Marcellius handles it all with meticulous care without sacrificing any of the energy and action.
Things never seem too tense in this opening issue despite the conflict among various characters. Part of that flows from the writing, but I couldn’t help but notice the welcoming qualities of the colors. Colorist Jaka Ady bathes most of the scenes in a warm, yellow glow, representing the lighting in the tavern. There’s something soothing about it, even as it reinforces the time in which the story is set and the atmosphere of the tavern.
Whitley instills a strong sense of mystery and the supernatural into this story, adding to the pirate-adventure fun. I have to say, Sea of Thieves seems to take a lot of cues from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. There’s that same sense of irreverence, mischief and magic at play here.
Whitley has clearly set out to make the women in this story the most interesting and fun characters (though it could flow from the premise of the game, I have no idea). The female captain is by far the cooler and more capable of the two siblings. I’m not saying the women are all honorable characters, though. Alessia’s a cheater whose loyalty is questionable. Rin Arai’s temper seems uncontrollable, and Mele’s judgment can be lacking. But these flaws certainly make them more fun to read. Whitley has also brought a lot of diversity to the players in this adventure story, but it stands to reason that outcasts and criminals from the world over would congregate the same place, running from their pasts even as they chase after legends. 7/10