Pirat Tales #1
Written by Dan Taylor; Illustrated by Orlando Baez
Orlando Baez draws one, hideous rat. Well, lots of them, actually. The rodents in Pirat Tales aren’t the cute-and-cuddly variety. They’re the kinds of animals my wife has nightmares about. Long, evil snouts; tiny, beady eyes; thin, naked tails; vicious, little teeth.
It’s really rather perfect for the story Dan Taylor’s written. There’s not a lot of high-seas adventure and swashbuckling in the first issue of Pirat Tales. That may or may not be coming in future installments, but the story begins not with a daring, Reepicheep-like pirate-king swinging from the rigging, but in squalid backrooms and seedy, dockside taverns.
It involves a couple of pirate groups racing each other to locate a hidden treasure, but like with all good pirate stories, the success of Pirat Tales lies in the colorfulness of its characters and how well it pulls you into its world. It handles both of those elements beautifully.
The first pirate we meet is evil Bartholomew the Blade. He’s a nasty character; a force of nature. He’s delectably ruthless, deadly, and hateful. There’s not a likable bone in his little, rat body, but I kind of love him. The way Baez draws him, he’d make Blackbeard shiver.
His opponent is Captain Blacktail of the pirate ship Vile Vermin. Blacktail and his first mate Peeve aren’t a whole lot nicer than Bartholomew, but they get to be the good guys by default. They’re funnier, for one thing, but they’re also down on their luck; clearly the underdogs of the tale.
I love swashbuckling pirates and tales of derring-do, but I think it’s really damn cool that Taylor and Baez are taking a different approach with a cast of such wicked characters. It’s a risky move, but they pull it off.