I got to the point in my prog re-read where The Red Seas started and decided to postpone other strips and just read the whole series start to finish.
The first episode does a great job of establishing the setting (colonial times with treasure ships ready to be plundered), a few of the main cast and the lead, the charming Captain Jack Dancer. We also get intrigue (he’s a former navy man) and ill portents (shadowy figures plotting nefarious acts). A great start all done in 6 or so pages. Dancer finds something thought was once lost as all the while the nefarious fiend Dr Orlando Dolye plots in the background. Yeowell does a great job early on with big panning wide shots that show the scale of the oceans and especially later on the fantastical creatures and fantasy worlds the crew encounter.
Religion always proves to be a great catalyst for moving along fantasy tales and this is no exception. In the distant past some monk dude learnt the 9 million names of God and scribbled them in a tome. The fearful Vatican split up the chapters and hid them in the far corners of the globe. This is the initial crux of the story and comes back around towards the end as well.
Edginton gives us a varied motley crew who don’t necessarily get masses of back story early on but still feel different enough and act with individual personalities. Dancer himself seems to have a less than noble vein with a devil may care attitude but when his lady love is kidnapped he shows his true emotions. Then the witchcraft and fantasy elements kick in and if you’re not expecting it, it might seem odd. Especially when we see a two-headed dog’s head pickled in rum and vinegar. From this point in, the strip moves away from Pirates territory and adds in Jason and the Argonauts, Odin and load of other fantasy/mystical/religious balls out craziness.
Strong female characters who refuses to bend to the devil’s whim, father and son relationships, guest stars Isaac Newton and Aladdin, and werewolves in old London town are just a selection of things that go down in this series.
There are a couple of strips that take place outside the main time line, one during WWII and one in the present day and to be honest I’m not sure about their relevance to the main story but they are well told so I’ll give them a pass.
Yeowell pencils are excellent throughout and, instantly recognizable and become much tighter with more detail for the middle of the story. As for Edginton, just when you think you know what’s happening, he turns it on it’s head and as Jack and the boys are hanging they are ironically saved by the English navy. More ironically by Jacks brother with whom there is a murky past. This is where Edginton and Yeowell up the shadow play portion of the book and when the crew journey to the center of the Earth they reveal a great cliff hanger that ties into earlier adventures. This is the best work by either creator and I’m actually thinking about reading it again right now.
Looking back at this series there are loads of ideas on display and i feel 95% of them hit and hit well. The only downside I can think of is that it hasn’t been fully collected in trade. Tracking down the individual progs would be a task as it appears in 112 issues but luckily it is available in two 360+ page digital collections. If you’re digital averse but haven’t read it, make this the one exception. If you’re a 2000 ad fan and haven’t read it, you’re not a 2000 ad fan. It’s that good. I put it on par with Nikolai Dante.
p.s Lawless by Abnett and Winslade is also out so go read that as well.