By: Kel Symons (writer), Matthew Reynolds (art/colors) and Pat Brosseau (letters)

The Story: A gang of misfits and bootleggers find adventure on the high seas of the pre-WWII Pacific Ocean.

Review: I’m always looking for different things to read.  It isn’t that I don’t like superheroes (and the talent working at the Big 2 – especially at Marvel – is tremendous), but I do feel like I’ve read a lot of the superhero stories before.  I’ve already seen the X-Men time travel and fight all the villains, you know?

But, I haven’t read very many stories that are set in the South Pacific during the 1930’s.

It’s mostly the setting that makes Mercenary Sea so alluring.  The set-up is that we have an old German U-Boat captain (probably from World War I) who somehow stole his submarine and has taken on an oddball cast of characters: bootleggers who can’t return to America, former heavyweight boxers who crossed the mafia, disgraced British doctors who killed patients by mistake when drunk, etc.  It’s a motley and charismatic crew.  From a big picture point of view, they’re looking for treasure, but to finance their operation, they have to take on various ill-advised jobs from shady characters.  They’re basically living out the Libertarian Dream on the high seas.

The combination of era, setting and characters is just very unique.  Nazis are boring, Imperial Japanese are novel…  So, even if the story itself isn’t totally curling my toes, there is something very enticing about a quickly paced, pulpy comic that is set in a unique place.  It’s $2.99.  You could spend more than that on the middle issue of a mediocre 6-story “epic” about a bunch of B-list Avengers that you don’t really care about.

The art is what initially attracted me to the series because the preview images ran for a long time in the back of select Image comics.   I’m not totally sure if the art in the comic itself is the same as that teaser art.  The art we actually get is…..interesting.  The characters themselves have a very photoshopped, pencils-straight-to-colors look about them.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of that.  But….you can identify every character and the action is always crystal clear.  No issues with the storytelling.  But, what I like is the overall visual look of the comic.  Just the pages, panel layouts, color scheme, etc……it’s all very fetching.  It looks almost like really nice movie storyboards – and I mean that in the good way.

Conclusion: If you want something different, give this a try.  This first issue didn’t blow my socks off, but it has a TON of potential to do so.  I love the setting, the types of characters and the storytelling style.  And the visuals are kinda arresting.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell