Friday, February 26, 2010

Captain Swing #1

Or, to be completely accurate, Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #1. This is the latest Avatar miniseries from Warren Ellis, four issues of vaguely steampunk-y adventure, illustrated by Raulo Caceres, who did excellent work on Ellis' graphic novella Crecy a few years ago. The opening issue is very Ellis-y, with vulgar, abusive lawmen; a city (an alternate London in 1830) perpetually on the verge of chaos and run by corrupt magistrates; a little bit of evisceration; and an enigmatic savior/destroyer looming over things. That said, it's a fun twist on the standard Ellis themes so far, and like his recent Ignition City, it nicely mashes up various genre tropes with Ellis' typical obsessions. It's a little bit From Hell, a little bit Doktor Sleepless, and a little bit Sherlock Holmes.

Caceres' hyper-detailed art was seriously impressive on Crecy in black and white, and it's a little rougher here in color, but still works remarkably well. Ellis sort of awkwardly inserts various text pages into the sequential-art narrative, giving little background details about his world, and I'm less enthused about that device. I sort of appreciate the exposition given directly to the reader rather than shoehorned awkwardly into dialogue, but there's something to be said for just dumping us right into this unfamiliar world. Do we really need all these details spelled out so plainly for us? I guess this is something that Ellis likes to do, but I prefer it things like the Doktor Sleepless wiki, which I have never read but which exists for people who want to learn loads of background info on the series' world, and follow Ellis' voracious research into weird news and cutting-edge technology.

Overall, though, this is an intriguing first issue, and a better start than Ellis' recent Supergod, which is like that expository narration broken up and spread over an entire comics series.

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