"Pirates of Manhattan"
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: After watching a vicious band of pirates attack several commuters who were waiting for a subway train, a young man who is currently between jobs looks to be emotionally crushed by a tragic mistake he made when he was on the police force. However, in an effort to draw him out of his depression, his father-in-law makes him aware of a new, fantastic sounding job opportunity that a tabloid named the Manhattan Guardian is advertising.
Comments: On one hand, I'm not quite sure what to make of this mini-series, as there's something rather conventional about this opening issue. There are story elements that feel a bit lazy, such the discovery that Jake's family just happens to be on hand in the final pages to be taken captive by the subway pirates. However, while the underlying story might be a little conventional, one can certainly tell that this is a Grant Morrison written project as only he could think of, taking the pirate mythology and transplanting it into the New York subway system. Right from page one this issue introduces readers to this wonderfully novel blending of genres, and it takes this ball and runs with it. As for our main hero, the job interview sequence felt a little contrived, and I felt the issue could have spent a little more time examining the tragic element that drove our main character into his depression. The way it's presented comes across as gross incompetence rather than a tragic accident. Plus, given the Manhattan Guardian is looking to use Jake as their public face of heroism, one would think that the video footage of their hero gunning down a 13 year old, unarmed child might be a serious hindrance to his actually getting the job. However, I do love the idea of a newspaper tabloid deciding to endorse their own super-hero who will go out and make the news, though if my limited knowledge about the previous incarnation of the Guardian holds up then I do believe this was already an established element of the character. The idea is certainly twisted enough though that I wouldn't have any trouble believing that this was a Grant Morrison idea. In the end this was a very entertaining start, and so far Grant Morrison is batting two for two on these Seven Soldier miniseries.
Cameron Stewart's run on Catwoman made me a big fan of his work, and as such I'm delighted to discover he's lined up to be the artist of this miniseries, as he's the ideal artist for what looks to be a pretty action heavy title. He gets the issue off to a wonderful start as that opening double page spread does an amazing job of capturing the sheer absurdity of the pirate attack but at the same time when one takes the time to study the image, you see that the attacks are actually quite horrific. There's also a great wince inducing moment where one of the pirates recovers a treasure map that was tattooed on a man's back. The action sequence later in the issue was also well done, as Jake's efforts have a nice sense of energy to them, though I will say that the art could have done a better job of selling the idea of how he was able to disable the Golem, as the magic symbols that animate the creature aren't focused on until Jake rubs them out. Still, the final page image is a wonderfully twisted final visual to carry readers into the next issue.
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