I love pirates. Treasure Island was one of the few classics my mother forced upon me that I found tolerable. My favorite anime is One Piece. One of my favorite cartoons from my misspent youth was The Pirates of Dark Water. My point is that I love pirate stories and it takes a lot for me not to be able to enjoy one. Yet The Blackbeard Legacy has managed that seemingly impossible feat.
Centering (for the most part) upon Hanna Teach – the daughter of Blackbeard in an alternate reality where voodoo is real and submarines exist in 1718 – the story of this book is spread across four chapters. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Hanna as she steals a log-book and then commanders a ship with the intent of going after some lost treasure, even as she is being perused into Chapter Two by several bounty hunters, including a zombie-raising voodoo priestess. Curiously, the third chapter focuses upon a female bounty hunter named Morgan Sheppard, who – after a brief interlude where she brings down a mark while disguised as a harem girl and confronts two cannibal rivals – is sent after Hanna Teach in the final pages. The final chapter of the book begins, oddly, sometime after Chapter Three ended, with Morgan Sheppard exiting stage left as the zombies we first saw in Chapter Two show up and we find out that the person sending all these bounty hunters after Hanna in the first place is Daddy Blackbeard himself!
If this summary of the story seems convoluted, that is because it is. There is no easy way to sum up the story of this book because there is no real unifying plot from chapter to chapter. Stuff happens because it is supposed to or because it is cool. We have zombies chasing after Hanna because a pirate story is supposed to have zombies in it. We have a pirate in a steampunk submarine show up to save Hanna because steampunk is big right now. The Ancient Mariner shows up to deliver cryptic warnings because then we can pretend this mess of a story somehow has literary relevance.
It is notable that even for a genre where the heroes typically have no motivations beyond “get treasure” and “seek adventure” that all of the characters in this book are as lifeless as a zombie and as flat as the female characters bodies aren’t. This dry comment brings us to the artwork, which is full of gratuitous low-cut tops, low-slung pants, and generous helpings of cleavage, both above and below decks. I’d dismiss the whole thing as base pandering to the lowest common denominator, but that would presume one could find something erotic in the horrible, misshapen figures drawn by artist Mike Maydak.
Don’t let the painted cover fool you – the women in the interior artwork look less like a Luis Royo painting and a bad imitation of Humberto Ramos. Maydak may have a certain style but that style is ill-suited for this kind of book. Granting that, Maydak’s art is horribly inconsistent with none of the characters look the same from chapter to chapter! Indeed, when Chapter Three started, I assumed that the woman in the harem girl costume was Hanna Teach in disguise rather than a new character!
The Blackbeard Legacy is exactly the sort of product I have come to associate with Bluewater Productions – poorly conceived, badly written and terribly drawn. I would add “horribly edited” to that list, save for one thing – this book has no credited editor! Whether that was because the editor pulled an Alan Smithe and demanded his name be taken off the book or whether it is because Bluewater Productions publisher/co-author of this book Darren G. Davis sees no need to employ somebody to examine his work and ensure that it has things like cohesive character design or a smoothly-flowing plot, I have no idea. What I do know is that this book is a technical failure on every level and it has no place in any library collection anywhere.
The Blackbeard Legacy
by Darren G. Davis, Scott Davis
Art by Mike Maydak
Bluewater Productions , 2011
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