The Campbells v2 cover detail

The Plot Thickens: The Campbells, v2: “The Formidable Captain Morgan”

In all the best possible ways, creator Jose Luis Munuera tightens everything up in this second volume. What started as a pretty amazing series only gets better.

The stories feel even better constructed and planned out. The humor is clearer and more consistent. The dialogue is better, too.  The coloring shines as Sedyas uses it for even more things, like time and location.

None of that stuff was bad in the first place.  It’s not like Munuera “fixed” anything.  He only improved the weaker parts, such that now everything is a strength.

The Campbells, like a fine Brit-com

The Campbells feels like a Brit-com sometimes…  The colors here are washed out because it’s a flashback.

It’s so good that I was even able to overlook the crossbar-I in the lettering for a page or two.  (But not more than that. It still annoys me.)

As much as I fell in love with the series instantly with the first book, this is the one where I found my nit-picky critical issues falling away.

“The Campbells” is an amazing series.  It would make for a great introduction to BD for those who’ve not sampled it before.

 

Additions to the Story

I don’t want to spoil anything for you by running down the events of this book.  But let’s touch on the structure of this second volume and where is takes us.

The stories in this book run a little longer, on average. They’re between 9 and 15 pages each.  There’s less of a singular focus in any of them.  It’s all about mixing in flashbacks to give us the “origin” stories of Inferno and Campbell, while paralleling it to something happening in present day.  Characters are mixing around now that Munuera introduced them to us.  here’s a lot of mixing of characters in this book now that we’ve been introduced to them. Munuera is tightening the web of the story of the series.

The Campbell sisters in a rare quiet moment

I thought about summing up each of the chapters, but then realized it’s not an easy task.  Storylines intermingle.  There’s always one thread that ties itself up by the end of each chapter, but the rest kind of floats through.

It’s not that the book just whimpers along, either.  Every scene has a point, and every moment leads you to a specific place.

Interweaved with all the modern day happenings are the flashbacks to fill out the backgrounds of all the main characters.  Colored in more monochromatic tones, these scenes help flesh out the characters and explain how things got to where they are today.

Carapepino, as befits his place in this title as something of an oafish sidekick, has to escape from the castle’s dungeon in this book. He does so in magnificent style, with a couple of surprises along the way and some amazing visuals.

Campbell and his kids are living on the Leper Colony’s island now, after their house blew up in the first album.  The girls are curious and filled with great character.  The young one is headstrong and prone to fighting.  The older one is a teenager, more prone to puppy dog love and arguments with her little sister.

Baron Inferno on the balcony as the sun sets

And, of course, the Big Bad Guy of the series, Inferno, is no longer a pirate anymore, either.  He’s turned to a life of politics and nobility, though he hasn’t forgotten his roots.  His royal romance is also something doomed to failure… These are the things that happen to a man who’s haunted by bad earlier decisions.

Blond Luca also make a surprising return to the book, in a way that deepens the character unexpectedly. Munuera obviously has a plan for every character in this book, but didn’t tip his hand too early on that one.
 

On Second Thought…

The most impressive thing to me about this volume is how it shifts the series as a whole.  My impression of the first book was that it was a nice collection of short stories, and there are a couple of mysteries to unwind. Mostly, though, I was in awe of the beautiful artwork and the amount of life that’s in it.

But, what about the past?

What happened between Inferno, Campbell, and Campbell’s wife, most notably?  It deepens in this volume, with a couple of major twists that I didn’t see coming.  Maybe I was enjoying the art too much to think about the story too deeply and start guessing ahead.  Maybe I should have known the shocking last page reveal earlier.

I didn’t.  It worked for me.

The thing is, reading the second volume made me go back to re-read the first and the second all over again. The history of these characters are all intertwined now.  A lot of scenes taking on new meaning when you know more of the story.  Panels that I didn’t realize pointed to the mystery in the first volume suddenly make more sense.

I like that.  A comic that feels new on a second reading is worth laying down the money for.

The Campbells shows some great hand gestures

Apropos of nothing else in this section, I just love the hand gestures in this comic. It’s so well animated.

Here, then, is where the weird part of my brain kicks in.  I love all the history of the series and how well Munuera is revealing it to us.  I want more of that history immediately.  I want those mysteries solved and all the plot threads to weave together and make sense at the end.

But I also hope that, as soon as that’s all told, Munuera goes back and does some stories strictly for the laughs or for the action.  He’s so good at both of those things, I’d love to see what he could do when he concentrates solely on those and went all out with them.

 

Recommended?

Yup. Yes. You betcha.  Whatcha waiting for?

Recommended without hesitation on all fronts.

Even the cover is gorgeous.

The Campbells by Jose Luis Munuera cover of volume 2

The book just went live on Comixology today!  Go get it now!

It is available on Amazon as a Kindle book, as well.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #42.)

The Trailer

As they are wont to do, the publishers created a trailer for the series, It’s mostly taken from the first story in the first volume, but then uses some action bits from later on.  They do good work simulating a multi-plane camera technique here.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Spellbound, Book 1 - Pipeline Comics July 30, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    […] series, “The Campbells,” that I’ve raved about here previously.  (Volume 1, Volume 2)  This is a prior work, with a different feel. You can still tell it’s his work under there, […]

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