Isabellae v2 cover detail

Pirate Zombies Attack! Isabellae v2: “Sea of Corpses”

The Story of Isabellae and Her Sister So Far

In the interests of remaining spoiler free, I’m not sure I mentioned strongly enough in my review of the first volume of “Isabellae” that her main mission in this series is to find her sister. The two had been estranged after her father’s death, and we see in a series of flashbacks how that came about.

Now, Isabellae will go to any length to reunite with her sister, who has plans of her own and whose feelings back towards Isabellae seem less than charitable.

At the end of volume 1, Isabellae saw a ship with her sister on board taking off for parts unknown.

Volume 2 begins shortly afterwards…

 

Chase At Sea, Mutiny In the Air

Isabellae v2 cover

When volume 2 opens, Isabellae and her gang are working on a ship to pay for their ride, lagging at least a full day behind their quarry.  Meanwhile, there’s a whole ‘nother drama on board this ship to deal with, and things are only going to get uglier.  In fact, the drama with her sister takes a back seat to the drama on board the ship. It’s carrying an artist who’s wanted by some nefarious folks for political purposes.  Isabellae’s job is to protect him during their passage.

With the origin stories out of the way and the “team” together at the end of the first volume, this book is able to focus on a specific adventure.  In this case, it’s the story of this ragtag group on a ship under less than ideal circumstances.  It’s their only chance to accomplish what they’ve set out to do, and everyone does it for their own reason.  But, still, it’s a rough idea from the start, and one that only gets worse as the book continues.

It’s an imperfect situation for the characters, but a great one for the readers.  Being in such a desperate situation means they’re willing to act on things a little more rashly.

Eventually, they do catch up with Isabellae’s sister’s boat, but what they find is a bit surprising.  That, of course, leads to more questions and excitement, and a strong cliffhanger of an ending, even as the story has a satisfying conclusion.

 

The Art and Colors of Isabaella

Below ship, there's detail in the background and dull color schemes

 

Gabor’s art is wonderful, as always, telling a clear story.  He’s not overly stylistic, but he does pack his panels with plenty of backgrounds to keep the story very grounded.

This is a story set entirely on a ship, much of it in chambers underneath the deck. What could be a very confined and very boring looking book still looks wonderful.  Gabor pays attention to the small details, adding background bits and bobs to make things look more believable.  During the quick action scenes, everything is staged clearly, with camera angles chosen for clarity over all else.

The coloring (which Gabor also does) is a lot duller in this volume, mostly due to the dingy circumstances our characters find themselves in.  When you’re below deck or outside at night, the lush coloring option is usually off the table.  There’s a flashback that’s bright red/orange, but most of the book is grays, browns, and dull blues.  It’s like a Vertigo comic from the 90s.

I understand why Gavor colored the book that way, but it doesn’t make the art look any punchier.  If anything, it weighs the art down a bit.  The coloring is almost too literal.  When the flashback shows Isabellae’s bright red hair again, it’s a welcome relief.

Animated movies love to use their color scripts. Those are basically key frames from each scene jammed up next to each other. This shows the color continuity and color scheme of the movie.  Go look at any “Art of” book in recent years for any CGI movie.  You’ll see plenty of examples.

It’s interesting with digital comics to look at thumbnails of all the pages on a screen and see similar things. This works best on an iPad.  On a web browser on the desktop you only get the strip at the bottom of the screen.  The thumbnails filling up a grid across the whole screen works better.  It shows how many pages a given scene lasts before switching to the next with its new location/time and color scheme.  This book isn’t too exciting to look at that way.

 

Love Is Kinda In the Air

Love is in the air in Isabellea v2

The one weak spot of the book is the forced love triangle between Isabellae, the ship’s captain, and Masshiroi, the man she didn’t kill earlier in the first volume.

Her relationship with the latter has been slowly developing, but it still feels more like a plot point waiting to happen than an actual budding romance.  There is the start to a conversation about that in this book, but another event distracts from it. We never go back.

Adding the ship’s captain to make it into a triangle doesn’t work at all.  In fact, even the repercussions from that romantic triangle doesn’t add up to a whole lot.  The only possible thing this triangle might reveal is that Isabellae has a distinct shortage of romance in her life. That’s understandable given the path she is walking.  It causes her to make some bad decisions due to her inexperience along the way.

And let’s be honest — there’s no reason she should have saved that guy from his certain death in the first volume, aside from some puppy dog attraction to him.

I hope this is all leading up to something in a future volume where we explore how this quest of hers has affected her personal life and her inability to make good decisions in the romance department.  That would make a certain amount of sense, and would add interest and depth to her character.  This issue has been spoken about, but not really shown.  It’s about time she’s forced into a decision on this point.

There’s one plot point that feeds into it, but mostly things happen out of thin air for the sake of the plot.

 

Recommended?

Yes, more so than the first volume, though you do need to read that one first.

 

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #38.)

2 Comments

  • JC Lebourdais June 13, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Just curious, how many volumes is that thing?

    Reply
  • Augie June 13, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Comixology has four in English via Europe Comics. Looks like Izneo has a fifth, in French only. I only bought the first three.

    Reply

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