Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kel Symons
Artists: Mathew Reynolds, Pat Brosseau
Released: 5th November 2014
Ah, high adventure. Whilst we’re a little spoilt for choice at the moment, what with Image alone putting out dozens of absolutely cracking stories of late, it’s a rare beast that really captures your imagination with the trifecta of a fundamentally great concept, capitalised upon by stellar art and terrific writing. The Mercenary Sea is one of those beasts – a proper, old-school, unabashed adventure book, inspired by classics new and old, but taken its own way, and told to an extraordinary standard to boot.
Opening up a fresh new arc after the rescue of Top Hat, we’re treated to another great dose of edge of your seat action within the first few pages of the issue, and it doesn’t really let up from there – the story now shifting its focus to main character Cap’n Jack Harper personal obsession with the legend of Koji Ra, an island shrouded in the mists of time. The tantalising hints and trinkets that he obtained towards the end of the last arc put him and the crew of the Venture on the tail of an ‘antiquities dealer’ (or for the straight-shooter, black market specialist) named Shen in occupied China, who Jack reckons (or at least, hopes) can point them in the right direction.
Suffice to say, it’s a great start to the new arc, and Symons’ writing, as we’ve come to expect, is perfectly weighted – gellling together period-appropriate lingo with a snappy, Whedon-esque wit, and keeping the pace of the story breakneck throughout.
Reynolds’ art remains one of the big selling points. Of particular note this issue is a car chase they feels like it’s been plucked straight out of a Bond film – a glorious tank-on-car sequence that’s made all the more impactful by Pat Brosseau’s magnificent, crackling onomatopoeia. Another sequence earlier on showcases Reynolds’ talent for effectively mounting tension through cunning layouts – it’s a masterclass in keeping your eyes focused on the right panels at the right moments. Just fantastic.
All in all, this remains one of the best adventure stories on the market right now – a gorgeous balancing act that’s got just the right amount of high octane action, clandestine intrigue and grounded mythicism to keep you hooked. I still just can’t recommend it enough.
Make sure you check out Ross’s recent interview with both Kel Symons and Mathew Reynolds about all things TMS, as well as Kel’s new series Reyn, RIGHT HERE.
The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24