Writer: Daniel McNeal
Illustrator: Charlie “Fab” Goubile
Publisher: Kid Monster Creations
Rating: 12+ Only
Corsairs, co-created by writer Daniel McNeal and illustrator Charlie Goubile, has all the elements of an epic space opera. The story itself evokes the classical tones of space odyssey featuring a spirited space captain; a quirky and loyal crew; an overarching space “super bad dude”; and a rusty n’ trusty space ship. Although the grandiose quest for the poor Fringe Colonies to carve out an existence in spite of the wealthy United Space Colonies is an interesting background theme, the narrative choices end up being predictable and monotonous.
World building can be very hard to achieve in science fiction settings due to the large swath of stylistic choices to settle on, but McNeal’s Corsairs is consistent in its approach and delivers a coherent vision. For example, the hulking yet majestic spaceships of the United Space Colonies and their battle against the scrappy pirate vessel the Hammerhead harken back to the time of 18th century merchant ships trying to outrun Caribbean pirates. Later in the story when the heroes make a trip planet-side, the creators play with a Mad-Max style of vehicles and spacesuits that really drive home the atmosphere of a space pirate adventure.
Stylistically, Corsairs shines with sharp angles and features that stand out against the black and white backdrop of the story. Alien races and robotic characters are very hard to pull off with original features, yet Goubile does an excellent job of playfully rendering the races featured in Captain Larue’s crew. The Hammerhead has an eclectic mix of characters that would really stand out with a gifted colorist, but Corsairs makes up for the lack of color with extraordinary detail on each of the individuals in the story.
I struggled with the narrative direction in the novel. The themes featured could be considered compelling with the dichotomy of the haves vs. the have-nots peppered with ideals love, betrayal, and loyalty all explored here. Yet the interesting buildup fails to deliver a satisfying conclusion, with predictable paths and dull sequences that unfortunately contrast against the excellent artistic work that is featured. I love the choice of a black woman as the captain of the Hammerhead, and yet the choice of a stereotypical pirate vixen protagonist undermines the very trope the comic seeks to destroy. Even the protective chest piece used on Captain Larue accentuates her prevalent bust instead of adding any real narrative or artistic direction. This is a definite missed opportunity with science fiction futuristic ideals of equality still undermined by the machismo of current day masculinity.
Overall, I found Corsairs grandiose in idea and approach. The universe is teeming with possibilities with its artistic vision of space renegades. And yet, that is what also makes this book a disappointment. The tale of the spunky crew that fights the authoritarian regime gets lost in a tale that is plodding and foreseeable. If Corsairs sounds like the space opera that is right up your proverbial alley, you can find more information on their Facebook page here.
Ryan Files is an avid comic book and video game consumer, reviewer, and critic hailing from the boondocks of Illinois. He has taken his ethnographic cultural studies background and applied it to his love of geekdom. He is a huge Star Wars nerd, Castlevania fanatic, and his power level is definitely over 9000. When he isn’t online writing about how he misses old school beat em’ ups like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, or TMNT IV Turtles in Time, he raises his 3 Dora Milaje warrior girls with the most awesome wife a