Comics Reviews

REVIEW: Flintlock: Book 1

Written by John Hussey

If you asked me to sum up this book in one word I would say “Wow!” Flintlock amazingly delves into the past and plays around with history to tell an interesting tale that leaves you gripped and wanting more. What makes this particular comic even more creative is the fact that we don’t just delve into one character, but three, with more on the way in consecutive volumes.

The first narrative (“The Man in Black”) follows Lady Flintlock, a highwaymen no less. It really turns the tale on its head by having a female doing the deeds of robbing carriages at gun-point. This is what makes this a strong anthology because the characters are strong, and not just through their strength but also their genders, sexualities and race. It really captures a different side to the world and moves away from stereotypes and what you’d naturally come to expect.

Of course her cheeky character gets a bunch of top-hats ticked off and they decide to hire a brutal hitman to take her out. Silas Hawke is certainly a dangerous character in both his size and his ruthless nature which results in a bystander getting their neck snapped for daring to question his motives. It led me to think that our dear Lady Flintlock wouldn’t be as strong as she made herself out to be, especially since she came from a rich background, and was using the theatricals to put on a show but alas the comic went the other way and actually had our protagonist keep to her promises and fought back against this villain. Though the odds were at first against her she eventually found a way to turn the tables and return the brutality with a bullet to his head (and even a stab to the shoulder).

The second narrative (“A Captain’s Tale”) follows Shanti, an Asian pirate captain from India. From seeing her imagery on the cover it was clear to me that she meant business. Her character is without a doubt my favourite as I’m a sucker for pirates when the tale is just right, and this is on par with Pirates of the Caribbean. This particular tale can be quite graphic in its violent content but that doesn’t really phase me and in fact enhances the overall storytelling by going with a realistic approach, thereby representing the time period perfectly. Shanti attacks a ship, claiming it was invading her territory having donned herself Queen of the sea.

She cunningly plays with her enemies words, making him (and the reader) believe he will be spared in return for giving Shanti riches on his next passing. Ultimately she declares she was going to spare the ship and not the crew and the captain is decapitated within beautiful panelling, whilst the slaves in his hull are set free and allowed to enact vengeance upon their captors. Though Shanti comes across as fierce, and extremely barbaric, she is also fair and noble which is further represented by the respect her crew gives her.

The third narrative (“The Clockwork Cavalier”) follows, naturally, The Clockwork Cavalier, a clockwork man built from iron. This is by far the weakest of the narratives within this first anthology but it is still an entertaining read. I think its clever that the protagonist is shown via two thieves discussing the character through tales and rumours, with these stories being delivered through flashback panels. This helps to describe their words and allows you to look at The Clockwork Cavalier through the eyes of the boys rather than through the protagonists.

We don’t know what he is like, whether he is just a machine programmed to obey orders or whether he has free-will. On top of this we have no idea how he came about, so there is a lot left open to our imagination which I hope gets touched upon in future stories. At this point in time we have to go off the ideas of two young boys, which again is rather clever storytelling and a great way to introduce this obscure character.

The subheading for this book is “Adventures in the 18th Century” and that’s exactly what you get. It is clear that creator and writer Steve Tanner has done his research and, as well as this, is enjoying every minute of his creative process. You can tell that he has gone to a lot of effort in creating these characters and the world around them. It was intriguing reading Tanner’s interview at the end of the book where he discussed the process that got him to making these stories and how each character and event will some how interact with the other.

I am really lost for words in describing this epic anthology. Flintlock really is a brilliant piece of art, filled with so much love and care. The attention to detail is stunning. And like I said above, we have a nice array of characters and they are all different from what you’d expect to see in this time period which makes the storytelling and the character’s adventures more exciting. With the exception of The Clockwork Cavalier, which we don’t know much about yet, I fell in love with each and every character. Each of their respective stories desperately left me wanting to see what happened next. This is a series that I look forward to following and I really can’t wait to see how it progresses.

I really do need to give a shout out to Anthony Summey, Lorenzo Nicoletta and Ed Machiavello for their amazing artwork and Dave “Bolt-01” Evans for his lettering. Along with Tanners creativity they all came together and created something special. I really do implore anyone who likes history-based stories to go and track down Flintlock and read it for yourself because I promise you will not be disappointed.

What do you think about this endearing journey into the 18th Century? Sound off in the comment section below or visit our Twitter page to give your verdict!

About the author

John Hussey