by Ian Alley-Seals and Carl Mefferd
Who doesn’t like high seas sailing and giant sea monsters? Stories such as these are timeless as the thrill of adventure and the fear of the unknown beneath the waves of the ocean have fascinated us for centuries. Treasure Island and Moby Dick are probably the most notable of classic literature that explore these phenomenons. It is surely a blessing that we have classic stories like this to hold on to, but it is also sad that not very many comic books explore the sea fairing genres. That is until 2012, when Rare Earth Comics released their first volume of a steam punk, Pirates of the Caribbean style (minus the actual pirates) graphic novel known as Doctor Atlantis. Rare Earth is now following up with Doctor Atlantis volume 2, and it is nothing short of another thrill ride.
This trade makes no qualms about putting readers right into the action as soon as they open the first page. It is almost like a miniature heart attack waiting to happen as the mouth of a giant sea creature opens around a ship. The crew of the ship, known as The Atlantis, through an epic struggle to defeat this monster find themselves at the mercy of the main protagonist’s past. Another ship dashes to the scene to aid The Atlantis, but as soon as our hero, Dr. Julius Fowler, realizes who the ship belongs to it becomes evident that the giant fish was the least of their concern. Through a maze of amazing adventures, a magnificent high seas chase, and the biggest sea creature of them all, Dr. Fowler comes face-to-face with his checkered past, putting his crew of freed slaves at the mercy of the British marines.
The creators of this comic certainly set their sights high, making a truly exciting and exhilarating story in a genre that is rarely visited. They’ve made a story that feels like a classic ship and sea-creature tale, but put a unique twist on it by adding steam punk elements. At no point in reading this story are you ever not on the edge of your seat, as our protagonists show their strength of character through adversity. Ian Alley-Seals and Carl Mefferd have crafted not only a great concept but have also given their characters a lot of life and a unique feel. Dr. Fowler is definitely a very extraordinary man, captain of the Atlantis, freer of slaves and killer of giant sea monsters. It is also his imperfections that make him so appealing, giving him the underdog effect.
Even though the creators have managed to build something truly great and made very appealing characters, the script did have a few issues. There were a couple of typos, which, even when they are small, can kill the mood of the story. It cuts the dialogue short and makes the reader stop and go “Say what?” interrupting the flow of the story. There were also some slight issues with the dialogue in a few places, seeming a little too presumptuous that the reader knows what they’re talking about. These are both very small problems, but can make or break the flow of the story. I urge you not to let it ruin the story, because it is truly impressive.
The black and white art work has its moments of grandeur and wonder, making the scenes come to life. The best part about the art is the way Mefferd illustrates the sea monsters and the giant ships. These things really are a thing of beauty, often invoking a widening of the eyes as you flip over to a full page spread. Mefferd definitely shows great talent in making big scenes work. The only problem with the art is the anatomy and faces in certain spots. Some movements don’t seem quite right, and some facial expressions don’t look quite aligned but most of the time, though, Mefferd upholds a great standard when drawing these things, and the slight errors are not rampant among all of the panels, just simple nitpickings.
Doctor Atlantis vol. 2 is daring adventure about steam punk ships, giant sea monsters, sword fights and the battle of good vs. evil; what more could you ask for? The concept is certainly grand, and will grab the attention of readers right from the get go. Even with the minimal problems found in the dialogues and the way the faces are drawn, this entire TPB is a very enjoyable read for anyone with a sense of sea fairing adventure. You can find the Diamond order code for this volume in your March previews book, and more information at the Rare Earth website: www.rareearthcomics.com.