Writer and director David Lumsden started the saga of Boat in a film of the same name, continuing it over three graphic novels. With volume four subtitled Hell Comes to No Land now available from BHP Comics, Lumsden raises the stakes, fills in more of the blanks in the life of tragic protagonist Charlie and prepares us for the final chapter coming in volume 5. Is Hell Comes To No Land plain sailing or is it time to abandon ship?
Publisher: BHP Comics
Writer: David Lumsden
Artist: Marc Olivent
Price: TBC from the BHP Comics Store
If you haven’t read the previous three volumes of Boat or seen Lumsden’s award-winning film don’t worry (but you really should – Ed.). Lumsden’s narrative carries on from where volume three leaves off but does it in a way that both reminds pre-existing readers what has come before whilst also bringing new ones up to speed. The main character, Charlie exists, just, in a post-apocalyptic Britain where flooding has wiped out civilisation as we know it, including most of humanity. At the start of the series Charlie and his father were surviving by moving constantly in their small boat (hence the title) “trying to face a place called home”. With its “Never get out of the boat” mantra, the series started off part Apocalypse Now, part water-logged 28 Days Later. In this volume, his father having committed suicide, a lonely, traumatised Charlie finds himself in the company of another group of survivors, albeit one that’s split into two factions who seem hell-bent on wiping each other out with Charlie stuck in the middle. By the end of the volume Charlie finds out that his troubles are only just beginning.
Lumsden’s plotting is tight, his narrative very well-structured and his characters rounded and interesting. He uses a device here that’s present in earlier volumes with the story switching simply from ‘Then’ to ‘Now’ but it’s a device that works really well. As well as giving a consistency to the four volumes completed so far, it’s also a very effective way of adding depth to Charlie’s character as we gradually start to understand the horrors that he’s seen and experienced. It’s a grim story. We are told that “the world’s end has passed. There is no future” but this volume does offer glimpse of hope and signposts a hopefully happy ending for Charlie in volume 4.
Marc Olivent’s artwork manges to capture action-packed fight scenes and smaller character moments equally well. Olivent took over art duties with volume 2 from Mark Weallans and has really added a foreboding atmosphere to the series. The black and white art fits the mood of a story which from the very start tells of a time where “the waters come and the city falls”. At times Olivent’s art is somewhat reminiscent of The Walking Dead, another book in which a father and son make their way across a violent dystopia desperately searching for other people and a place to belong. Like Kirkman and Adlard’s opus Boat is as much a story about relationships and coping with adversity as it is about dramatic battles and horrifying monsters (although don’t worry; those elements are there too!). As such Olivent seems perfectly suited to the material.
It’s not giving too much away I don’t think to say that this volume ends on a real cliff-hanger, one that that links the horrors of Charlie’s childhood with the situation he finds himself in the present. If you haven’t already it’s certainly worth picking up Hell Comes to No Land and the previous three volumes. You wouldn’t want to miss the Boat.