Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sea of Red Vol. 1: No Grave but the Sea - review

Story & Script: Rick Remender

Story & Layouts: Kieron Dwyer

Art: Salgood Sam

Released: 2005

Contains Spoilers

Sea of Red is a graphic novel tale of vampires and pirates, recommended to me by regular visitor Mateo.

The graphic follows the tale of Marco Esperanza, and we first meet him at the bottom of the ocean, tied to a figurehead and instinctively catching fish to survive. In the first part we discover what lead to his fate. A victim of a shipwreck he was picked up by corsair captain Lesser Blackthroat. Though not a pirate, and disturbed by some of the things he had seen aboard, he gets drunk with the captain. He tells Blackthroat of his life, and wife and child, before passing out.

When he comes around the ship is deserted, the pirates have boarded a Spanish galleon. He crosses over and sees hideous scenes of carnage. Attacked by a vampire named Canker, he manages to behead the creature but not before the vampire has tasted his flesh. We discover that the vampires rip the hearts from their victims before feeding to stop their return, but Marco is now cursed.

To avenge Canker, Blackthroat ties Marco to the mast of the boarded ship as they scuttle it, promising to visit Marco’s family.

In part two we jump forward to the present day and egomaniac film director Joel Cameron is in a mini sub when they see Marco. Assuming him to be an undecayed corpse they bring him aboard, but Marco immediately launches onto PA Janine, in a haze of hunger. Later we see that Janine turned and has also fed, though her victim has been staked. Cameron wishes to film the story of Marco’s life but the film needs an ending. They discover that Blackthroat had told Marco of an island (in what we now call the Bermuda Triangle) and so set sail to find it.

The vampiric rules are fairly standard, stake through the heart, beheading and sunlight kill the vampires. Injuries are healed through blood, but I did like the idea, when Marco has half his stomach ripped out, that it healed as was, flesh simply fusing together and leaving his torso looking twisted. The vampires can turn to mist, though for reasons unexplained Marco cannot, but rematerialisation hurts and it cannot be repeated immediately. Garlic burns the flesh and holy items are also effective, we see a holy blade, the injuries from which cannot be healed, and a holy water soaked stake was very effective.

As the graphic ends Marco and his companions have just entered the island proper and Cameron is missing.

The artwork is superb; the sepia tones used belying the very gory nature of the illustrations and the characterisation excellent. I can safely say that I’m looking forward to getting part two in the future. 8 out of 10.


Mateo said...

I'm thrilled that you like it. I think they talk a little bit more about misting in the future (probably another trade from where you are), but I don't think it's that some can and some can't. It takes a lot of turns throughout the series. They have an interesting "conspiracy-esque" origin story for vampires that comes up eventually.

If you really liked it, you might want to not pick up the second trade and instead wait for the hardcover of the completed series that is supposed to come out in December (the series ends at issue 12). Though that's probably going to be pricey, it will be worth it if it's a book you think you might want to revisit.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers for the recommendation. As for the hardback set - will see what happens (I may have ended up with the other sets before that!)