by Robert Curley and David O’Sullivan
This is the first issue of a three part arc, and is a lovely start to a comic firmly set in a historical setting, a century that is not often used in comics.
Set in the 1700s our story begins in 1778 as we see the eventual protagonist of our story; John Walsh and his widower father find work with a landed gentleman Sir Thomas Warren. A common tragedy had occurred to both men, and so they soon became strong friends, chess players and companions as the years go by. On one fateful night the household is disturbed by a masked armed robber, and a group of soldiers in pursuit. Despite successfully protecting the household from the robber, a soldier mistakenly kills John’s father.
Sir Warren takes John as his own, and soon this is accepted, as the boy grows up in his newly elevated position in society. University inevitably beckons and he attends Trinity College Dublin, an exclusive luxury at the time. Here he meets and discusses politics, the revolutions of the era, be it in America or the impending one in France, the connection that some revolutionaries make, such as Lafayette, being undeniable. Meanwhile a firm friendship is made between John and George, a fellow student, who is somewhat more passionate about the revolutionary cause.
As France revolts against the monarchy, George informs John that he is off to France, to fight for Lafayette and John resigns himself to go too, although he must persuade his adoptive father of the merit of this risky undertaking.
While Sir Warren, who is with Henry Gratten at the time, approves of catholic emancipation and a parliamentary revolution, he cannot approve of Johns more direct and decidedly dangerous course of action but fails to dissuade the young man. As John departs for the continent to fight for freedom and seek adventure, one can only imagine what the next issue will bring in the development of The Crimson Blade, a character that is touted as being able to ‘bring justice and hope to the streets of of a Dublin.’
Its a terrific comic, and in one issue ably paints a very fine picture of a traditional heroes childhood, orphaned, well educated an underlying questioning, a youth affected by external occurrences, but nurtured into a strong young man and heading away into danger.
And this is how the Crimson Blade Begins.
O’Sullivan’s artwork is very clean, this is a black and white comic and there is a classic feel to the style of artwork, a true adventure. The line art is fine and delicate, the characters are realistic in portrayal, and the architecture and backgrounds are just right for the time, while an image of a Tall Ship near the end that is quite stunning.
O’Sullivan captures drama quite nicely and there is a good flow to the comic. I was impressed that he uses a hatching style in many places to darken and add shadow, rather than just block black, and this was pleasing in this comic, achieving the right texture needed, not too coarse, while avoiding being too perfect and modern feeling, smart work.
Overall a very enjoyable read, and interesting to have one set in such an unusual era.
The Crimson Blade is available for good comic shops and from the Atomic Diner website.