An unnamed teenage runaway from Richmond falls asleep on a New York City subway. He’s woken up at the last stop on the line, Coney Island. The runaway wanders off the train and meets a gang of girls who beat him all to crap. Meanwhile, a bookie named Sal, counting his winnings, gets executed by some sort of bizarre robot creature. Then the runaway wakes up under the Coney Island boardwalk with an eye missing before ending up at the home of a homeless advocate. Meanwhile, the girl gang is robbing a pet store. And really that’s about it.
It sounds like I’m talking about the latest slice-of-life from one of the indy black and white publishers, but this is actually the first of an eight-issue series from Image Comics. It’s hard to know where this series will go, but this first issue has a very clever sort of underground feel to it, with its story of lowlife characters and the bold artwork and coloring by Vasilis Lolos. In fact, Lolos’s art and coloring are the key to this mostly pretty quiet story. His use of odd camera angles and aggressive use of odd colors like pink and orange give the story a really unique feel. It doesn’t look like very many other comics on the market these days, and that gives the comic a quirky, off-balance feel that complements the story well. The comic is full of clever little art touches, like the fly in the eye of a dead man on page 18, or the way one of the girls plays with a tarantula at the pet shop.
The comic looks great and has an interesting feel, but it also leaves a hell of a lot of questions unanswered. Who is the runaway? Is he the same guy as is shown on the inside front cover? If so, how does a boy like him end up at the end of a subway line in Brooklyn? Does the homeless advocate have an agenda? But the main question is obvious: who are the Pirates of Coney Island? They’re mentioned on the last page, and they’re the title characters, but the Pirates are never shown in this issue. There’s obviously a touch of writing for the trade in Spears’s decision not to show them, but at the same time it gives this issue a sort of quirky feel, like the prologue of a more complicated story. I’m sure all these seemingly unrelated elements will come together into a real story by the end, and I assume that the Pirates will help fuel the story.
As a standalone issue, Pirates of Coney Island #1 is an interesting tale of life on the streets of Brooklyn. It’s an interesting portrait of city life that has an intriguing indy feel to it. Who knows where this story will go, but this first issue is very well done.