Review: These Savage Shores (Vault Comics)

Based in the steamy sub continent in the 18th century, with These Savage Shores, writer Ram V continues to build on his excellent 2018 resume with this new tale of vampires and shape changers in a pre-colonial world. If you ever wondered if there was a supernatural force more powerful than a blood sucker, you are about to find out!

Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sumit Kumar, Vittorio Astone, Aditya Bidikar
Price: £2.49 from ComiXology

Our story begins on an 18th century sail boat travelling across the oceans to India, whereupon we are introduced to Edmond, who is in turn in pursuit of the enigmatic, blood sucking, sun-phobic Alain Pierrefont. While it all may sound very Van Helsing and Dracula, this is just the start of our tale. When Pierrefont attempts to continue his blood sucking ways in India, he encounters seductive dancer Kori, and her partner Bishan, a beefcake, demigod-like bodyguard for the local sultan. Inevitably when the two collide, things do not go well. When Edmund arrives in Calicut he attempts to find out what has happened to Pierrefont, but this brings him into the path of Bishan.

These Savage Shores is one of those books which benefits from being set in a unique and fresh location (at least, a fresh location for western comics!). Instead of being set in grim and foggy London or Transylvania, the story is set in the exotic and mystical Calicut which means jewelled elephants and jaguars fill the pages rather than black cabs and black hearts of London. The story is a slowly simmering pot boiler as the various elements begin to come together and create this mix of gothic horror and eastern mysticism. It’s complicated and in depth, without being intimidating, and Ram packs dialogue and action into every inch of every page to create an incredibly dense and really brilliantly realised story in a throughly beguiling world.

Exploring These Savage Shores

This denseness of content is definitely helped by artist Sumit Kumar whose immaculately crafted pages reminded us  Liam Sharp’s current run on Wonder Woman, or even Chris Wildgoose’s work on Porcelain, for it’s incredible detail. Whether it is the immaculately rigged sail ships, the swarming cityscapes or the lush forest canopies, every panel is packed with exquisite detail and the character design feels completely unique and original thanks to it’s setting. Bishan’s mask which he wears when protecting the sultan is particularly cool, as is the character who he transforms into later on.

The colours from Vittorio Astone also capture that simmering sub continental vibe with warm yellows and oranges mixing in with the lush greens of the forest scenes, or the cold darkness of the night. All contrasting with the cold blues and greys of the handful of scenes in London. It also has a kind of sepia hue to it which makes the whole thing feel old fashioned without feeling dated.

This is another stellar outing from Ram V and team, and a sign that he is definitely an exciting writer to watch. These Savage Shores is complex and involved, but without being convoluted. It is fresh and unique, but uses familiar concepts in a new environment to draw the reader in. And it features exciting and unique characters taking each other on in ways you would never have expected. All wrapped up in a sublime artistic package with every page rewarding repeat reading to capture every last brush stroke. A sweaty and sinister read that will keep you guessing who is the ultimate evil throughout!

If you like this be sure to check our Ram’s other work like Paradiso and also Grafity’s Wall and as well as being a great showcase for this team, it’s also a great showcase for Vault Comics who are becoming one of the most innovative publishers out there thanks to books like this Fearscape and Friendo.