Mercenary Sea by Kel Symons



I IMG_1931found this one at my local comic shop. I saw the title, read what it was about and sounded cool and different froIMG_1932m what I usually read. As you know I like different stories, and this one seemed different but just based on the cover and description also seemed like something I would be interested in. Immediately I thought of Indian Jones but with a new twist, so I had to check it out.

It was a little hard to track down any info about Kel Symons but I finally found something. From what I have gathered he has mostly worked in movies working for a production company that has produced some well-known films. I also found where he has written scripts for Disney, Fox, and Universal, as well as worked on scripts for the video game indIMG_1935ustry. Lastly he has only written three comic books I love Trouble, Mercenary Sea, and Reyn which was just recently released in January. It seems that he is quite new to the industry but brings with him loads of writing experience. I have not read any of this other works but if they are anything like Mercenary Sea then I will certainly add them to my list.

This one is set in 1938 basically just as the war is starting to become a global conflict. The story follows an American IMG_1938captain of a Chinese submarine named Jack Harper and his rag tag crew. They are located in the south pacific always looking for work or who will pay them the most for any job. Along the way Jack has made quite a few enemies, and some of them are powerful. In his heart Jack is a hopeless romantic looking for treasure in a time where such things do not exist. There are subtle clues along the way to suggest that the treasure Jack has only heard about in legend actually does exist. Will he be able to outrun his enemies and the war long enough to track it down?

I liked this one. I honestly was not expecting too much from it but it delivered to say the least. I thought it was going to be like so many other stoIMG_1939ries that I have read where they read fast and are done and you don’t really given them a second thought. I could not have been more wrong. This was quite a surprise for so many reasons.

One of those reasons was the characters. While many of them are somewhat cliché there is still a new and different spin on them that I was not expecting. The story is very reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the type of adventure that he would be involved in. Still though I like how the author put a new IMG_1940and different spin on the same theme. The other characters are very interesting as well and I did like how at the end of the book Symons gave a detailed description of each character, basically their backgrounds and how they ended up with Jack Harper. This added so much more depth to each character more than the reader could get from the six issue trade as most of the characters don’t say much or have smaller parts. There is nothing wrong with this just makes it hard to get to know them is all.

The other thing I liked about this one was the plot. When it started out I was like ok here we go again just another simple plot and nothing that I have not seen before. But as the story went on I was surprised at the different elements that were at play, and by the end I was wanting more and for the story to keep going. There were also some things that I did not see coming, some really interesting and cool plot twists that I would love to see how they will eventually play out. The other interesting thing is that there are two plots going at the same time. One is obviously the main plot that drives everything, but there is thIMG_1941is other sort of subplot of what Jack is really after, and that is the one that I found the most interesting. It was interesting to see how the author used the main plot to drive the story and along the way stoke the flames of the subplot. Very well done by the writer and something that I have not seen in the medium of comics before. To me this once again shows that anyone who still thinks comics are immature and childish need to reevaluate their juvenile mindset.

Now lest talk about the artwork. I absolutely loved it and I know I say this a lot, but it is very unique and I cannot say that I have seen it in any other comic. The funny thing is is that for some reason I kept thinking of Jonny Quest while I was reading the book, and sure enough there is one scene in particular where as far as I can tell Reynolds purposefully adds Race Bannon and Dr. Quest to the background. As soon as I saw them I knew that there was no way that was done by accident, and I did find IMG_1944some small evidence that this was done on purpose by the artist, pretty funny and cool. I also thought the artwork looked a lot like one of my favorite cartoons Samurai Jack. The artwork almost looks like the foreground is made of construction paper cut outs laid over the background. With that being said this is obviously not the case and there is way more detail in the characters than simple construction paper, but it is very cool looking and no matter how it was done certainly the finished product is top notch. I also liked how Reynolds used shadows to portray many of the scenes throughout the book. To me it was something reminiscent of a movie shot, where the characters are all in black and all you can see is their outline and the backgrounds are fully in focus and coloIMG_1945r, it was very cool and something extremely different for the comic genre. Reynolds did a really great job with all aspects of the artwork in my opinion, colors and page layouts. The full page splashes are really cool and you get to really focus on how mesmerizing the artwork is. The colors are truly great as well. I cannot think of another book where so many bright and vibrant oranges and reds are in full force in the background, and somehow they work just fine and make for some amazing scenes. There are some scenes where it looks like you are actually looking at the sun setting in the South Pacific. Truly great work!

All in all I must admit that I really was not expecting mIMG_1946uch from this one, but it took me by surprise and delivered an interesting story and even better artwork. The artwork seems to get better and better as the story goes on, and by that I mean that at first it just looks cool then once the story takes off you really start to appreciate the artwork and how it and the story work so well together. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and it seems to be mostly under the radar as no one is really talking about it. The other thing about this one is that I think it has been canceled, although I cannot find any definite proof that is the case. There are a few articles speculating this series has been canceled but on Kel Symons Facebook pagIMG_1947e he has some artwork for issue 9 which will be the next one. Right now there are 8 out there available and this trade collects six of them. It blows my mind how this series got cancelled, but I guess it did not hit its sales goals and it’s all about that cheddar I suppose. As I mentioned it is pretty much under the radar. I hope in the near future Symons will finish this one, but we will see what happens. Also there are some cool extras at the end. I briefly mentioned above about the character profiles, but there is also some scene breakdowns where the artist and the writer seem to be collaborating on different ideas. Pretty cool. I recommend this one, but it is a bummer when you get to the end and know that the series only has two more chapters and I don’t think those two issues finish up the story in its entirety. So its tough to tell you to go read it knowing that, but I will anyIMG_1948ways. Go check this one out, it is a fun read with really awesome artwork.







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