Blackbeard: Legend of the Pyrate King #3

by Timothy Callahan, Columnist/Reviewer |

Mon, February 15th, 2010 at 7:18PM (PST)


It doesn't help that this issue begins with this foolish exchange: "You get recompensed four hundred pieces of eight if you lose a right hand," says the bald man on board the pirate ship, explaining the details of conscription. "But only five hundred for the left and only one hundred for an eye?" asks the man-who-will-be-Blackbeard. Then there's an explanation about how the left hand is less valuable than the right, because the right is the sword hand.

So then why do you get more for losing the left hand than the right? Presumably, that's because someone -- one of the many writers, the letterer -- made an error on the page. But it doesn't bode well for the rest of the issue to begin with your main conversation hinging on a typographical error.

The rest of this comic isn't as sloppy, though it is poorly structured. It's almost laughable in its clumsy use of transitions, boldly emblazoning captions like "Days Later," and "Shortly…" and "A Week Later…" and "Three Weeks Later…" and, well, I could go on. This comic jumps through time to show the badassery of Teach the pirate, the man with the black beard who will one day achieve the legend explicit in the title of this comic. But the blatant and amateurish use of time-jump captions becomes almost absurd. Surely there's a more dexterous way to tell a story about Blackbeard's rise to pirate greatness.

But no, this comic is a series of events -- this happens, then this happens, then this -- as if it were a low-grade biopic and this was the middle of the dramatic learning-how-to-be-good-at-the-thing montage. It's "Patch Adams" making with the funny, scene after scene, only with pirates instead of doctors, and knifey stabbing instead of clown noses.

So we find out that Teach is a tough guy, an unrelenting killer with an appetite for women. But it's shown with all the artlessness of telling.

And, like too many Dynamite comics, its garish looking. But artist Mario Guevara isn't to blame. His pencils are excellent, with an etched dynamism inherent in them. He draws splintery galleons and haggard men of the sea. He's a damn good artist of the pirate genre but, in all-too-typical Dynamite fashion, it looks like it was colored with day-glo magic markers. Everything has neon highlights, there's a sickly golden from the candles, or from some unknown source in the distance. The coloring doesn't enrich the gritty pencils, it overwhelms them like a bad musical score.

"Blackbeard" #3 -- as a narrative -- seems interested in painting its portrait of the "Pyrate King" with broad strokes, and rushed strokes at that. It doesn't do anything more than comply with pirate clichés, and it seems like it's in a hurry to do just that.