Indie Comics Review – Packs of the Lowcountry

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I’m reviewing another horror themed comic in honour of the season, this time the original graphic novel Packs of the Low Country (on Kickstarter here). Packs of the Lowcountry is written by John Dudley, with pencils and inks by Don Cardenas, colours by Mark Dale and Kelly Fitzpatrick with colour flats assist from Drew Browne, and lettering from John Westhoff and Don Cardenas.

In a post apocalyptic world, humanity only retains some form of normalcy within walled fortifications. Those unfortunate enough to be  left outside have to try and survive packs of ‘invaders’, monsters of various forms that recently appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and started killing humans wholesale. Bastion is a soldier dropped into the Lowcountry (South Carolina), following up on intel from Agent T regarding the Baker pack, a group of invaders that are essentially werewolves. But Bastion’s superiors haven’t told him the whole truth, and there are other invaders at play in the Lowcountry. He’s about to find out how the invasion started, who started it and make some pretty weird friends along the way.

Packs of the Lowcountry feels like a book very much inspired by 90s comics (and by extension, 80s action films), and as such is a lot of fun while being hugely over the top. Dudley’s characters are well rounded with just enough detail to make them fully realised, without bogging the story down with unnecessary exposition. The plot itself feels like a complete OGN, while the ending and world certainly leave things open for more stories in the world.

The art is expressive and kinetic, but the monster designs are the star of the show here. The wolves and ‘dragons’ are terrifying looking, while ‘The Connect’ has one of the more interesting designs I’ve seen in a long while. The bright colours splashed over the forest environs of the book rounds off the more retro feel of the comic.

Check out Packs of the Lowcountry. It’s a fun action-horror book that is well worth a read. Check out the Kickstarter here.

Comic Review – Barracuda (9th Cinebook)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“A few days later, the Barracuda dropped anchor in the port of Puerto Blanco. The ill-named pirate island – for everything there is black, from the souls in its inhabitants to the shaky stumps of its whore’s teeth.” – Emilio

Time for something completely different. Well, not completely different, it’s still a weekly comic book review. This time though, I’m picking one of my recent, surprise personal favourites instead of a weekly new single issue. Don’t get me wrong, the new stuff looks good, but Barracuda is both something special and not one of your usual Marvel or DC stories. My girlfriend got me into it, after we were recommended it by Excelsior Comics in Bristol. It’s originally a French comic that’s been translated to English and is written by Jean Dufaux and illustrated by Jérémy, translated by Jerome Saincantin and published by 9th Cinebook.

barracudaWhat’s so great about this comic? Well, did you enjoy the first Pirates of the Caribbean, but wish it was a bit less family friendly? Do you watch the modern romanticisation of pirates and wish there were pirate stories that pulled less punches and didn’t shy away from how incredibly ruthless, horrible, rapey bastards they really were? Well Barracuda is the story for you! If you’re sold on that alone, then stop reading this review. Go out and buy it now.

The story primarily follows Maria, Emilio and Raffy. Maria is the daughter of a Spanish grandee, Emilio is their servant and Raffy is the son of infamous Captain Blackdog, Captain of the pirate ship the Barracuda. The story kicks off Maria and Emilio’s boat being attacked by the Barracuda, Maria, her mother and Emilio (disguised as a maiden) are immediately captured on Captain Blackdog’s order to keep the women alive to sell them into slavery. At this bit in most stories they manage to pull off some kind of daring escape, some lovable rogue turns up and saves the day or they manage to talk their way out of it. This is not that kind of story. They are captured and sold into slavery, which goes roughly as you’d expect. From then on there’s just one goal: survive.

Until the second volume that is. I won’t say what happens, but it’s the first comic I’ve read in a long time that takes things in a very different, significantly better direction to the one you’d expect. From there it’s a kick ass adventure, with piracy, murder, betrayal, law breaking of every kind and a hell of a lot of nudity. On top of that the pirates are actually well, pirates. They’re lawless bastards, who engage in horrendously immoral acts from slavery to old fashioned murdering people to take their stuff.

As well as this, there’s the art. To put it simply, damn it’s good. The art in this comic is outstanding. Much of it is based of real world locations, it has a very hand drawn feel to it and comes across as something very different to most comic book art you’ll come across.

Captain Blackdog

In terms of criticism, occasionally the grammar or pacing of the text feels a bit off. This is likely due to the translation from French. This isn’t too much of an issue though, none of the characters are meant to be English, having different colloquialisms or things sounding a bit different I feel add to the atmosphere of the books.

Final Verdict

You can probably tell, I love this comic. It’s a dark, gritty world full of twists and turns, fantastic action and even has a smattering of Game of Thrones style politics to boot. There are allusions to magic existing, but so far it’s been left fairly vague and could just be hearsay. If you like pirates and want something a bit different, this is a great place to start.

Final Score – 9.5 Cut-throat Pirates out of 10!