"Plunder #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Archaia
Written by Swifty Lang
Illustrated by Skuds McKinley
2014, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on February 18th, 2015
Yo Ho, me mateys! Have you ever been scared shitless on the high seas? Well, you're about to with Plunder, a new mini-series from Swifty Lang and Skuds McKinley (who have perhaps the coolest names in the comic book industry). The book centers on a 14-year-old kid named Bahdoon, who's working as a translator for a gang of Somali pirates. The crew stumbles upon a large ship that appears to be abandoned. If only they were that lucky. The truth is far more terrifying.
The crew starts to poke around the ship and don't seem bothered by some of the atrocities they find. Granted, they've probably seen – and caused – quite a few horrors in their lives, but finding blood smeared all over a wall or a severed arm hanging from a door handle would make some people think twice about investigating any further. The temptation is too great though. Their leader, Internet (yes, that's his name), has had a vision of treasure and they're determined to find it.
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Lang works quickly to introduce each member of the group. Bahdoon is telling the story, so he provides a short intro to each one as the book begins. It's not presented like a cast of characters. Instead it comes across organically. Each pirate has a distinctive look. Some carry horrible scars or disfigurations and all of them are ruthless. You can tell right away that Bahdoon doesn't fit well with the rest of the crew. He has trouble firing his gun at people in the opening scene, even when he's being shot at. You can imagine how well that's received to a group of pirates.
There's an omnipresent feeling of dread throughout Plunder. It starts slow with the initial discovery of the ghost ship where McKinley has a lone tentacle appear beneath the water near the vessel. This is the first we see of anything unnatural but it speaks volumes and instantly ups the scare factor of the book. One look at any of the covers for the comic will give you a good idea of what's in store, but this is the first time you see it in the interiors.
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This feeling continues as the crew goes deeper into the vessel. Plunder works like a great survival-horror video game. It's like Dead Space at sea. The horrors start small and build to some really insane stuff that would drive any normal person insane. There's one full-page spread that is an incredibly great use of the page-turn reveal. McKinley outdid himself with the gore and sheer terror packed into that page. It's unsettling. Things get progressively crazier as the book goes on.
Plunder is a damn scary comic book. It's the kind of story that will make you think twice about going in the water. Sure, Jaws did that decades ago, but this is something else entirely. This is disturbing and abnormal. I'm sure this is the kind of thing that the Navy doesn't want people to read.