September 26, 2016


(Special thanks to Pilot Studios for providing electronic copies for review)

I have to admit, much of my enthusiasm for comics has waned thanks to the ever-prevalent cycle of reboot/revamp/recon of the majors....but sometimes, a comic can serve as a reminder of the power of the medium....and that, despite the material, comics can be imaginative and fun.

Carriers: Pirate Bay # 1  and Carriers: Watchers in the Night from Pilot Studios are imaginative, fun reads...and deserve your attention.

Carriers' premise is simple: a group of anthropomorphic carrier pigeons fight fantastic menaces in New York City. Part of a series of graphic novels, Pirate Bay # 1 is the third of the series (and the first chapter of a multi-part story), and Watchers in the Night is the seventh, but both contain strong, well-written stories and...well, after reading these, you'll be heading to Indy Planet to purchase more copies. Yes, they're that good.

Pirate Bay starts in high gear with a group of seagull pirates engaging in arson...and a threat: release the Croc King or more damage will happen.

You read that correctly - seagull pirates. Part of the joy of JD Arnold's script is how it deftly balances high pulp adventure with a great sense of characterization. As the opening chapter of a series, Carriers: Pirate Bay lays out its scenario well, providing easy entry into this world.

(Plus, both series have a one-page introduction to the world of Carriers)

Although Arnold's script is excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed Luis Rivera's art and inking on Carriers: Pirate Bay. Even though disparate elements are provided (moving from seagull pirates to more high-tech setting to the sewers of New York), Rivera's art provides a nice continuity and never breaks tone or feels inauthentic. Micah Meyers' lettering and Grupo Escomics' colors also provide context and consistency. In short, this is a really good book.

I have to admit that although I also enjoyed Carriers: Watchers In the Night, the book didn't have the same excitement or discovery.

Part of it, I'll admit, is that it comes later on in the overall "series" (meaning that I may have missed some critical pieces). I think part of it also is that there are some blatant nods to the Watchmen movie which feel a bit forced...

Granted, it should be expected with the word "Watchers" in the title, but it does make sense in plot terms.

Jay Huwer's script (from a story written in collaboration with artist Jason Kimble) highlights one of the key themes, as the plot concerns how the Carriers interact with the Parliament, a group of owls protecting the city. As the plot progresses, it becomes clear that the Parliament has their own, more extreme way of protecting the city....

Carriers: Watchers In the Night focuses on a well-told story in comics: how far is too far in protecting the common good? Despite this common theme, the script actually does a great job in laying out the beats, and providing a natural new "rival" for the Carriers.

In fact, it manages to do in twenty-some pages what the Watchmen movie took four hours. And made it much more pleasant.

Jason Kimble's art brings fantasy-oriented, almost contemplative quality to the story. I'm not a fan of that particular style of art, but in this context, it works wonders, giving Carriers: Watchers In the Night a more fable/parable-like quality. Even though it's not quite my favorite, I have to admit that it tells a frequently-told story in very moody, thoughtful terms.

If you're suffering through a slight sense of comic burnout (like I am), you should pick up Carriers: Pirate Bay # 1 and Carriers: Watchers in the Night. You can purchase online via IndyPlanet, or you can ask your local comic shop.

After reading these books, you will rethink your pull list. I guarantee it.

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