When we last sailed with A Man Among Ye, Anne Bonny crashed into our hearts astride a Jacob’s Ladder with pistol in hand and wind in her hair. She narrowly saves Captain Calico Jack Rackham during a raid on a British naval ship. But, between a brewing mutiny and the looming threat of Governor Rogers’ crackdown on pirates, Jack and Anne have enough on their hands. Brave stowaway Mary Read might lend hers, if she can overcome her disdain for pirates. Anne might just show her that a pirate’s life is…well, for her.
Freedom strikes a particular cord in this issue. For some, pirate life is born of necessity in the face of the overwhelming wealth gap many faced under British rule. For Anne, freedom is living as herself without the shackles of society’s expectation. For Charles Vane, freedom is the very ideal he’ll fight and die for.
It’s impossible not to notice the parallels between the extreme cruelty and manipulation Rogers employs and fascism. That point is accented by two of the hanged men begging for their lives, promising never to steal again. Rogers, stone faced, promises to deliver Nassau from its “rats” to the British, ignorant to pleas or little things like due process (applicable no matter what time period you’re living in). It’s here we’re introduced to the pirate king, Charles Vane, who awaits his sentence in Nassau’s prison.
Amidst the swashbuckling and backstabbing, Stephanie Phillips centers the tragedy and honor at the heart of pirate life and A Man Among Ye: the fascism at the heart of colonialism and the importance of living life on one’s own terms in the face of overwhelming odds. Vane’s moving dialogue is both inspiring, defiant, and a taste of what’s to come from the pirate king in later issues. Well timed, his speech leads to my favorite page of the issue.
Artist Craig Cermak delivers a fantastic page to accentuate Vane’s point. The layout draws the eyes down, with dramatic contrast for the Hangman cast in black and bright yellow-orange. We end with a dramatic centered panel framed by solid black reminiscent of jail bars. Colorist John Kalisz draws a metaphorical red curtain over the hanged men in the final, centered panel. An interesting play on the theatricality usually given the “gallows dance,” but here given solemn, powerful respect.
When framed by Vane’s defiant view of freedom, it’s impossible not to heed Phillip’s well timed rallying cry. I found it hard not to think of George Floyd’s viral murder here at the hands of fascist police officers. Regardless of intention, the team handles this moment with respect and care.
A Man Among Ye peels back the layers of a fun pirate narrative to reveal tenderness and heart in Issue #2. It’s easy to see why one would be drawn to a life of piracy, especially as a haven for those that refuse to or cannot conform to the social norms dominant in the era. Written by Stephanie Phillips, with art by Craig Cermak, colors by John Kalisz and letters by Troy Peteri, A Man Among Ye #2 is available on Image Comics, Comixology or your local shops.
When we last sailed with A Man Among Ye, Anne Bonny crashed into our hearts astride a Jacob’s Ladder withCOMICONRead More