By Kevin Hoskinson
Stories of pirates and their adventures on the high seas have fascinated readers for generations. As far back as I could remember, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island” has been a part of my life. It introduced me and many others to a whole new world of storytelling, thrilling adventure, and of course, the infamous pirate Long John Silver. Silver would become what most people envisioned a pirate should be.
Throughout the years, the pirate fad came and went. Eroll Fynn popularized them during the golden age of Hollywood. In 1950, Walt Disney Pictures released its first live-action color film, an adaptation of Treasure Island. After that, pirates in pop culture laid dormant for a while. It wasn’t until 2003 when pirates hit again in a big way. Another Disney film, Pirates Of The Caribbean, changed how a whole generation saw pirates and made them cool again.
But even though the ups and downs of pirates in the public eye, there is one thing that always stuck out to me. Unless you are into the real history of pirates and have done the research, you most likely have no idea about the women pirates that existed. Their stories aren’t told very often. But I can assure you that their stories are just as exciting as anyone else’s, and I would argue even more dangerous.
In A Man Among Ye, we are introduced to the story of the legendary Anne Bonny. While sticking to as many facts as possible, writer Stephanie Phillips conjures up a tale of intrigue and betrayal on the high seas. It begins with John “Calico Jack” Rakham and his crew ransacking a British warship. It’s not long before his right-hand girl, Anne Bonny, swoops in to save the day. From this point on, we know who is really in charge of Rackham’s ship. And the other men on board aren’t too happy about that. Having a woman on board a pirate ship was considered taboo those days, let alone a woman trying to take charge. Some of the crew have a plan that might fix this problem.
On land, Governor Rogers has had enough of these pirate shenanigans. Having a personal vendetta against Rackham, he will stop at nothing to get rid of him once and for all.
What all of this amounts to is an exciting first issue that will make you thirsty for more. In the book, Phillips confesses that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the history of pirates. There isn’t much written about Anne Bonny, and what is out there often conflicts with one another. She did her best to narrow down some facts while creating some fiction, to best represent the essence of who Bonny was. And from what I can tell, she did a fantastic job bringing her and the time period to life.
Also, bringing this world to life is the beautiful artwork by Craig Cermak and Brittany Pezzillo. It has a way of being very dark and dangerous while also being bright and beautiful. On the very first page, you are drawn into the warship’s siege and instantly become part of it. There is no confusion about what is happening among the chaos; you are getting a front-row seat. You can feel the flames around you, and the destruction caused. Even when things calm down, the ship feels real. Being with the characters, just hanging out, it’s like being a fly on the wall. The artwork transports you there, it’s very immersive, and I loved every second of it.
Everything about this debut issue is amazing. It’s a pirate story through and through. Like the classics, it’s a tale of revenge and swashbuckling adventure. I have researched Bonny over the years, and I’m glad we get to see her take shape in this series. As is the case with most first issues, it’s a setup for what’s to come and getting to know the characters, and it’s done incredibly well. Definitely check it out!
Rating: 4.5 Pastrami Nations out of 5
Kevin Hoskinson is a writer with a deep-seeded love for movies, comic books, television and the paranormal. From humble beginnings working the box office at his local movie theater, he’s worked his way to becoming a humble family man and professional bug exterminator. Growing up, he wanted to become an astronaut, a Ghostbuster, a dinosaur, and a Disney animator before he found his passion for writing as a teen. He studied film at Los Angeles Valley College with an emphasis on screenwriting and film criticism. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two kids. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter @Kevin_Hoskinson, and Instagram @kevinhoskinson.