Take one rotten rival to Lady Flintlock’s highway shenanigans, one ship full of hungry and putrid and survey pirates and an ill thought our robbery and you have all the ingredients to Steve Tanner an friends’ newest offering, Flintlock No.2 from Time Bomb Comics, all sitting behind an Ian Kennedy cover no less.
We once again take up with Lady Flintlock, Shanti the Pirate Queen and the Clockwork Cavalier in three separate adventures. In the case of the lead strip, Lady Flintlock, we are welcoming back a continuation from the last issue – adding more meat onto the bone and throwing in nefarious plans to see her gone from the highways and byways of Georgian England – while the other two strip are all done-in-one stories. Shanti, like Lady Flintlock, is a hard woman for the era, but never suffers fools gladly. She may have very few scruples when it comes to pillaging, but she draws the line at anything else, and expect her crew to do the same. As for the Clockwork Cavalier; well, he’s simply an unstoppable gentlemanly force in a time when Robert Peel and his proto-coppers were putting a gleam in his mother’s eye. So, two strips following the exploits of outlaws, and one taking up the other side of the coin, representing as he does, law and order. Surely, there’s room for a cross-over at time point down the road, right Steve?
Again, Tanner provides the reader with plenty of bang for your hard-earned buck, including an interesting article that expands on his strips with real-life inspirations alive in the 18th century, focussing this issue’s attention onto Ching-Shih, the real Pirate Queen. This alone is a fascinating read, not only does it invite us into the world of buccaneers and braggarts, but it also giving insight to the differences in piracy depending upon which of the Sven seas you plied your trade, so to speak.
Tanner is clearly going for a realised, realistic world, and there is no strip more aware of this than the lead, with close attention to detail provided by Anthony Summey, who’s Jerry Ordway-like realism breathes life into the architecture, clothing and people of the period he has so aptly illustrated on each and every page. I can imagine this took a long time in researching, and it shows. A truly professional and polished strip with strong, definitive lines that allow the appropriate characters to stand out in some rather busy panels and pages. I refer to Ordway, not only because of Summey’s style reminding me of his, but when Ordway took up duties on the much lamented All-Star Squadron comic (well, much lamented by me, anyway) he too brought a sense of realism to the world of WWII that still sits with me today, many decades later.
The rest of his crew of artists are none too shabby either, with particular mention going to Ed Machiavello, on art duties for The Clockwork Cavalier, who’s bold use of black ink adds a certain gothic quality to proceedings; somewhat appropriately given that this was the century in which the Gothic Movement was gestating in the writings of William Blake and others of the late 1700s.
A swashbuckling second issue to keep the growing Flintlock fans out there satisfied for a while and one that, once again, puts feisty female ‘heroes’ front and centre. The 18th century may be a man’s world, but that won’t stop the likes of Shanti and Lady Flintlock from finding their own path, even if it means breaking a few patriarchal laws along the way. Tanner gives voice to each and every character – a hard juggling act to keep up – and adds to their story and therefore their developing characters. Lady Flintlock isn’t the real villain, but the jury’s still out over Shanti, for me at least.
The comic and it’s concept – heroes and anti-heroes wandering the world of the 18th century – is clearly a labour of love for Steve, who has meticulously done his homework – and then some – in his attention to detail that he has, no doubt, helped to inform his artists. The Ian Kennedy cover, with it’s bold use of white background and a single character pose, is a great boon for the book, standing out as it will on any bookshelf in any comic book shop, so do look out for it in your LCBS. Or ask for them to get it in. That, or go look for Steve as he attends cons up and down the country, including an appearance at this year’s Birmingham Comics Festival on June 24th-25th. Or, check out the Time Bomb Comics website for availability.