The new book from Reckless Hero sees them bring the trademark high impact visuals that we love in The Last Sheriff and Operation Boom!, to this unique genre mash up. Knights vs Pirates sees artist Chris Imber and Chris Jenkins teaming up with ALV writer Jay Martin for a full length graphic novel that feels like the kind of book that evolved out of a post convention beer or two. As you can imagine from the title, Knights vs Pirates is the most glorious ‘what if’ or ‘who would beat who’ kind of concept and thanks to those Reckless Hero visuals makes it into a real rip-roaring read!
We could try and explain the plot of Knights vs. Pirates to you, but it wouldn’t really do it justice. Suffice to say it essentially puts King Arthur and his knights against Blackbeard and his ship full of blood-thirsty pirates thanks to a bunch of convoluted shenanigans involving the holy grail and a Bermuda triangle wormhole.
Inevitably with this kind of high concept comic, the story is a bit lightweight and there’s not a lot of character development involved, but that’s OK – you wouldn’t expect this to have in depth historical analysis or emotionally complex character study. For the Knights, Martin takes familiar elements of Arthurian myth and re-imagines classic scenes and characters like the lady in the lake and Merlin in a more superhero kind of style to help tie the events together. It definitely gives the story a nice angle and would have been enough to sustain a knights book on it’s own. However, as a result the pirates seem to get the short straw on character development. They just appear fully formed as the villains of the piece, and we never really have much of a concept of who they are, which is a bit of a shame, but not the end of the world.
Ultimately, all you need to know about the story is that it’s there to deliver strong set pieces and characters for Imber and Jenkins to blow you away with their art and in this regard it more than delivers!
Having been disappointed when Imber stepped away from the final issues of the Last Sheriff and Operation Boom we can forgive him now that we know what he’s been working on. His Capcom/Wildstorm inspired artwork has always been a favourite of ours and he’s really upped his game on this one. His work has a real vibrancy and action to it. The detail and design is there in every page, as is the consistency of quality as he has a lot fewer ‘weak’ panels which don’t quite match up to his awesome splash pages or double page spreads. Meanwhile Jenkins colours continues to bring every page to life and make the high octane action really leap from the page.
Unfortunately if you aren’t a fan of this style of work then you might find it jarring or overly showy when used for a traditional subject like Knights and Pirates. There’s lots of shouty close ups, outrageous angles and ‘oh-so-many’ motion lines on every page, so if you prefer your period comics to be more sedate and traditional like Flintlock then this probably isn’t going to be for you.
However we love this kind of artwork having been brought up on Joe Madureira’s X-Men and Humberto Ramos’ Spider-Man and this is fantastic stuff that feels every bit as good as those inspirational artists. In fact, with it’s fantasy like designs, it reminded us a bit of the ill fated Battle Chasers, which is never a bad thing in our book, just with a bit more substance.
Knight vs. Pirates has been a book we have been eagerly anticipating since it first started appearing on Reckless Hero’s social media and then on Kickstarter – and it more than delivers! While it’s not the most high brow or intellectually challenging of reads, that’s ok, really… what do you expect from a book called Knights vs Pirates?! However if you are after a high impact read that feels like a 90s video game come to life then this a really fun and over the top read which sees everyone involved deliver some of their best work to date!