Comics Features Reviews

Rum Row Drowns You in Swear-filled Intrigue

::stumbles in and trips over shoe lace::


Hey gang, welcome to another patented comic book review! You might be familiar with a quaint little time in history called Prohibition, where a bunch of lousy blowhards decided it was in everyone’s best interest to make the consumption of alcohol illegal. What a bunch of lousy blowhards! Thankfully some people had the know how to either bootleg alcoholic beverages or to use…crime to provide alcoholic beverages to those in need. And boy, were they in need! I’m rambling, aren’t I?

Today we will be taking a look at the first issue of Rum Row, a book that promises slick action, cool characters, and a whole lot of illegal booze! Rum Row is written by Andrew Maxwell, with art by Michele Bandini and colors by Derek Dow. So then, what are we waiting for? Let’s pour ourselves another glass and dive head first into Rum Row!

The world of Rum Row is a dry one. After the “Volstead Act” alcohol has been banned and so anyone looking for a good time must take to the skies and wet their whistle upon the giant boozy blimp known as The Duchess. Anne Blanchard, the owner and operator of The Duchess, is throwing a sweet party to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but those pesky coppers seem to have gotten the jump on her and her little scheme of having a good time.

Ah yes, and what a celebration it is! Complete with high octane refreshments, confetti and (hopefully) tons of gambling, anything happening on board The Duchess is totally awesome in my book. Well, at least before I was destitute, but that’s my problem. Anyhoo, when a man named Jack gets into a bit of a tiff Anne suggests that he get some fresh air, and takes him for a tour of The Duchess. I’ll admit that this part of the story had me more than a little jealous since I think Anne is such a swell lady (and very fancy), so I had to constantly remind myself that she isn’t real.

Unfortunately for all the party-goers, Jack is an undercover agent and is only on board The Duchess to arrest Anne since she is in violation of the Volstead Act. This all goes according to plan and with Anne captured by the evil police, the celebration comes to a screeching halt. Sort of.

But not to worry friends! Anne has her own contingency plan against just this sort of thing, and the guests of The Duchess soon reveal themselves to be armed to the teeth and ready to overpower Johnny Law. Meanwhile, Anne deftly escapes capture and manages to secure schematics for something called “Albatross.” Hmm, I wonder what that could be? Possibly a design for a new blimp, or perhaps a super-powerful beverage? We’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

Maxwell’s script is fantastic. Anne Blanchard is an excellently crafted character and her interactions with some of the other characters, especially Jack, are full of tension. Yeah, you know what kind (still jealous). The whole concept of illegally drinking on a blimp is so, so cool and creates a very interesting atmosphere. Not only that, but it leaves room for tons of adventure! The story has plenty of intrigue to keep readers wanting more, and I for one can’t wait to see what this mysterious Albatross is all about!

The artwork in Rum Row is handled by Michele Bandini with colors by Derek Dow, and boy does it look spectacular! When Anne Blanchard walks Jack into the cockpit of The Duchess and we get a nice look at all of Rum Row, it’s just epic. Everything from the character designs and backgrounds, to the blimps and the action scenes is so well done; it really is professional grade work.

So what’s the final verdict? Let’s see here…cool blimps, plenty of hooch, Anne Blanchard (<3)…yeah, Rum Row is good. Damn good. This book is a slam dunk for just about anyone who likes to read independent, creator-owned comics, but I would recommend not allowing younger readers to get near it since it contains a fair amount of adult situations and behavior (like alcohol and alcohol). Aside from the story, there plenty of extras like old, pin-up style pictures and advertisements, and even a bonus story called “Drinking Games,” which is humorous in a fairly twisted way.

Want more? Check out the official Kickstarter and get your own copy of issue two of Rum Row, then head on over to Grenade Fight where you can learn a whole heck of a lot more about Maxwell’s other work.

Will you be supporting Rum Row on Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!

About the author

Robert Porter