Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Ram V
Illustrator: Sumit Kumar
Colours: Vittorio Astone
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 1st May 2019
After the betrayal of the Zamorin troops by Hyder Ali, rumours spread of a demon tearing its way through British camps on a path towards Ali’s camp at the siege of Ambur. Meanwhile, Count Grano and his vampire hordes have reached Vikrampura, leaving only the ageing vampire hunter Sturn to provide any kind of defence for the young prince and his people. Tragedy begets tragedy, and as Bishan’s course turns towards home and his beloved Kori, he will face the greatest tragedy of all.
These Savage Shores, for me, has been a faultless series from the very beginning and continues to be so. The creative team behind this story have created the perfect storm in a comic that is horrific, heartbreaking, and unbearably beautiful in terms of narrative, world building and artwork. Only four issues in, this series rivals anything I’ve read in the last decade and is head and shoulders above everything else for my ‘comic series of the year’ so far.
I have eulogised a number of times about the artwork in this series but I simply cannot overemphasise just how incredibly good Sumit Kumar and Vittorio Astone’s work is. There is a sumptuous extravagance of detail in each panel that could easily provide you with a gallery exhibition worth of individual pieces. Even in the horrific, there is just something incredibly captivating about each image.
For me, this issue’s key imagery is all about the monsters. Bishan is revealed in all his bestial glory, finally see the vampyres unleashed, their horde of revenants, and of course we see the destruction left in the wake of the all too human monsters at the head of the warring armies. There is so much that stands out in the artwork in this issue that it’s hard to pick out one thing, especially if I’m going to avoid massive spoilers, but there are some pages that will just stop you dead.
I think that the beauty in the artwork also helps to remind us that there’s still a love story running through the heart of this series. With all the conflict and bloodshed and horror assailing us it’s easy to forget that we started this story with two lovers and that while he was led to war by duty to his prince, everything Bishan has done and endured so far is to create a safe and peaceful world for him and Kori to inhabit.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention again the stellar lettering work that Aditya Bidikar continues to add to this series. This issue didn’t provide as much scope to showcase the creative flair Bidikar has shown in previous chapters, but I still love the style and design that he brings to each character.
Once again Ram V weaves the narrative of this series with a delicacy and nuance that you’d expect to see from a novelist. I have been invested in each of the characters we’ve met since the beginning, and you really do find yourself living every second of their trials and tribulations. Whilst there is so much going on in this issue, I thought the depiction of Bishan, despite his obvious strength, physically and mentally, struggling as his entire world comes down around him piece by piece, to be particularly effective. The defence of the palace at Vikrampura is short but epic, and I thought Sturn really shone as the aged hunter giving his last stand.
Four issues. That’s all we’ve had so far. Just four issues and this series already feels like an epic saga that could span generations. There is a potential to bring this story through the ages, up to the modern day, especially with the developments of this issue. I don’t think I can offer up much more in the way of praise for this series, if you are already reading it, I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. If not, please, please pick up a copy. I promise you won’t regret it.
[UNLETTERED PREVIEW ARTWORK]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek