The Campbells v3 Kidnapped by Jose-Luis Munuera header image

The Campbells v3: “Kidnapped!”

“The Campbells” is a serialized story showing events in the past that relate directly back to the present day of the story.

This review will contain spoilers for the story so far — both volume 1 and volume 2.

It is a terrific series. You should read it all.  Go click on those links above to read the reviews of the first two volumes if you haven’t yet.

I’m going to move ahead here and discuss all the wonderment, merriment, and comic hijinks of volume 3 now.

The Story Continues…

Volume 2 ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, with some bad guys kidnapping Campbell.  Volume 3 is all about paying that off.  Finding himself strapped to the wrong end of a cannon, he’s in serious trouble.

We also get to see the aftermath of the shocking revelation in the second volume of Captain Morgan’s true identity — Nancy Morgane, aka Campbell’s fiancee.  Campbell shows surprise, but goes with it quickly, in large part because that’s his fiancee.  His brother joins in, but is clearly not happy with this turn of events.

As you might expect, the sailors on her ship were not happy to find out they were taking orders from a woman.  Piracy, they say, is a man’s game.  Jose-Luis Munuera plays it for laughs while showing the silliness of the pirates who, well, were sexist jerks.  They were pirates, so that’s probably the least of their offenses, in many ways.

Pirates reject the idea of a woman being their leader.

My favorite part of this particular panel is the call back later in the volume.  Carapepino is regaling the ladies of a brothel with tales of exciting piracy on the high seas, but they have an issue with this particular plot point:

Campbells v3 The brothel ladies even know that piracy is a man's job

Perfect comedic callback.  That lady at the end with her hand up looks like a Skottie Young drawing to me, for some reason.

The thing Munuera does well with the initial reveal is to alternate between comedy and drama.  The pirates are obviously upset and their anger leads Campbell, his fiancee, and his brother to a bit of physical danger.  But there’s a lighter touch on top of it that doesn’t defuse the situation, but certainly works the drama for maximum impact.

So the book starts off with the Campbell brothers and Nancy trying to convince their own shipmates not to kill them, before a graver threat brings them together for survival. And, of course, Nancy has a bright idea to win the day.  In the meantime, there’s a lot of cool swashbuckling, ship sailing, and interpersonal conflict.  While they come together to fight a bigger enemy, there’s an obvious issue between the brothers over Nancy, and then all of them with the other pirates, who will need to be won over.

That’s just the half of the book Munuera set in the past, though.  There’s more adventure and comedic gold in the “present.”

Campbell’s kids get word of his capture and how to find him.  One goes off to get help.  The other charges head first towards her father.  They both get to him through a series of comic misadventures that work through a great mix of suspense and comedic hijinks.  It all leads to the kind of grand battle you want to finish off a book.  It’s a big set piece. We’ll get to more of that in a second…

 

Pirates As Politicians

The general thrust of this book, though, is Munuera spelling out the reality of the changing times Campbell finds himself in.  Pirates are on their way out.  The real power in the world is falling into the hands of the politicians, who can be as ruthless as the pirates, but with the power of the law behind them.  It’s a perfect transformation of job skills and powers.

The Campbells v3 From Pirates to Politicians

Munuera does a great job taking that high concept and wrapping a story around it with interesting characters.  It’d be spoiling too much to say how, but Campbell’s capture is part of a revolt against politics. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Even better, the story is structured so that there’s rising drama throughout the book with a grand finale that brings everything together into a chaotic action scene that’s worth reading. Every step along the way is done with great humor that doesn’t forget the bigger story. It’s just what you want in a dramatic narrative — the right mix of action and suspense.

That’s one of Munuera’s other strengths.  This series is presented as a series of short stories.  They’re always building to something bigger, though.

While they might feel a little disconnected at times, they do add up to something nice. This book feels a little more linear than the previous two. It’s like Munuera is finding his way with the series as he goes, and is working toward building up the overall mythology of the series a little more strongly, over the earlier comedic shorts with the occasional dramatic punch.

He’s also set up all the main characters in the series now.  That’s less time he needs to spend on “origin stories” and introductions.  Those were all well told, but the momentum is only increasing on this series.  That’s an even better thing.

 

Something that Just Dawned On Me

I just love this pin-up

I just love this pin-up. I have no good reason to present it here other than that. It’s my website, after all…

Munuera already did the big reveal with Nancy as the dreaded pirate Morgan.  But he has yet to tell the story of how she died.  We know Campbell’s brother did something very very bad here.

I’m not looking forward to that.  She’s such a cool character that it’s going to be crushing, I know it. sigh

Recommended?

Of course.  This is a series that’s only getting better as it goes. In the process of finding itself, it’s only getting funnier and more dramatic, all at the same time.  And Munuera’s art is spectacular on every page.

Yes, do start with volume 1 as you want to appreciate the build of the bigger story arc, but look forward to this book.  It’s a winner.

 

The Campbell by Jose-Luis Munuera volume 3: "Kidnapped" cover

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #63.)

 

Izneo.com Preview

 

One Last Thing…

Since you were so kind to keep scrolling down the screen, let me treat you to some further viewing.

This is Munuera’s Comic Art Fans page. There’s not a lot there, but it’s very nice.  Check out the commissions gallery, in particular, for the Blacksad piece.

Then you can click on this link for all art by Munuera on the site.

That’ll keep you busy for a few moments, even if most of it is his head sketches inside albums.

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