Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #1


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Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #1


  • Words: Warren Ellis
  • Art: Raulo Caceres
  • Colors: Digikore
  • Publisher: Avatar Press
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Feb 24, 2010

Steam Punk!  Warren Ellis!  Raulo Caceres!  Seriously, why read what I have to say? You should go buy a copy before they are all gone!

Oh, you want to see what I have to say anyhow?  Weird.  Here goes nothing...

London 1830.  Spring Heel Jack is being sighted.  Two police forces are at each other’s throats.  And now, just to make things interesting... a guy with glowing goggles, clock work glass bullets, and flying pirate ships is running around causing havoc.

Smoggy industrial age London.  Dark and dangerous.  This is the world of Jack the Ripper.  These are dank, dirty, and disease ridden streets.  Spider Jerusalem would be at home.  Well... maybe not.  There are no fancy machines that reproduce food, no televisions, no holographic vacations, no machines to dictate to, and no designer drugs.  But the corruption of the streets would set the journalist to a fury with a nib as he destroyed blotter after blotter.

Ellis, masterful as always, sets the scene with expert ease.  It isn’t just the fantastically appropriate art of Caceres.  It is the narrative essays that intersect the art, revealing this world to the reader.  A world where things are incongruous.  History and technology don’t quite meet up, but then that is part of the mystery of the Electrical Pirates.  You almost wonder if Anna Mercury will jump in at some point.

This is wild and manic comics fun.  Characters are drunk and primitive lasers are bullets that would look at home on a set with David Tennant dressed in a sharp suit with an overcoat and Chucks.  Think the episode where the Doctor finds the spaceship mysteriously linked to a Victorian age courtesan.  Now imagine it dark, gritty, and not at all child friendly.  There is no redeeming moral lesson to be learned here, except that officials are corrupt and their influence spreads like a virus through the streets of the cities of the world.

Ellis is writing a dystopian future that is entrenched in the past.  Everything is an anachronism. You half expect Holmes to show up to tell everyone what the deal is.  Beyond setting up an intriguing mystery, besting Alan Moore at the intertwined back matter game (by actually intertwining the back matter into the story itself - creating a reveal in a series of reveals - sort of a nesting egg effect in prose), and giving one heck of a cliffhanger - Ellis makes us feel like we are in the streets viewing what is an impossible to change future in our very recent (relatively) past.  Electricity doesn’t just spark in this slow history, but in the very mind of the reader, setting their imagination ablaze with the possibility.

Caceres gives the visuals a decidedly European flair.  He builds the cobblestones that we feel the (not present) fog rise from.  His lines create a woodburnt effect that gives the book the feel of a Hickman off a printing press feel.  It is the perfect complement not only to the genre, but to the madness of Ellis’s script.

This is manic comics.  Insanity grips the reader as it overtakes the streets of London.  It is as emersive a comic experience as this reader has had this year.  Whatever the wait is to the next issue, it will be unbearable and completely worthy of the agony.       

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