Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Blackbeard Legacy - Part Four

Aye, me lads and lasses.  Seeing as how it be Talk Like A Pirate Day, yer captain be thinking it be high time we scuttle this bitch of a story and sail on to more pleasant tales.

When last we left, the story had shifted gears.  No more, it seemed, were we to muddle through the exploits of Hanna Teach - bastard daughter of Blackbeard - as she searched for her father to seek vengeance for her cursed mother.  The third chapter of this series focused instead on Morgan Sheppard - a bounty hunter of greater scruples and greater interest than Miss Teach.  The last chapter ended with Morgan accepting a job to deliver Hanna Teach's head to an interested buyer and with Morgan pointing a pistol at said head.

It was a stirring conclusion.  But if ye know anything about The Blackbeard Legacy thus far, ye know the conclusions are often misleading.  And to quote me idol Captain Joel Hodgson, "anything can happen during the cutaway".  So go ahead and read the summaries of PARTS ONE, TWO AND THREE.  They will help ye not in finding your way through the sargassum that follows!

Our story opens on a lifeboat, with Madison - the blind bounty hunter Hanna convinced to work for her instead of killing her back in Part One - seemingly stranded.  Her dialogue seems to imply she just got out of a fight with a bunch of zombies or just fled from a bunch of zombies.  Which may or may not answer the question of what happened at the end of Part Two when it looked like a voodoo priestess bounty hunter was about to attack Hanna and her crew.  My gut is leaning toward 'not'.

Fished out of the briny, Madison quickly finds herself on the Queen Anne's Revenge - the personal ship of Blackbeard himself!  More, it is revealed that Madison was in the employ of Blackbeard this whole time!  She was meant to keep Hanna Teach wandering and searching for Blackbeard.  Why?  Well, we're going to find out later, but I'll warn ye right now - you're really not going to like the answer.

So here's where we stand so far.  Madison - who we last saw in Part Two - was apparently either stranded at sea or fled a fight when the zombies showed up to kill Hanna.  Either way, this happened off panel, because the last we saw Madison she was still a crew member in good standing before the hypothetical zombie attack.  That would explain away one dropped cliffhanger.  But what of Part Three's ending, with Morgan Shephard getting ready to splatter Hanna's brains across the docks of St. Mary's?

Well... we may have an answer for that, as we cut to Hanna's current whereabouts, where the zombie-raising bounty hunter Obeahmama has shown up again.  Again?  Maybe?  Or is this the same fight that Madison fled earlier?  

It's really unclear.  Just as it's unclear if the pony-tailed woman on the left-side of this first panel is Morgan Sheppard.  Not that it matters.  Whether it's Morgan or not, she disappears from the book immediately afterward and is never spoken of again.     
Thankfully, before Hanna can be cursed or zombified or whatever Obeahmama's magic blast is meant to do, she is saved by Schepsel!  Yes, Schespel!  Loyal and faithful Schespel, who sacrifices himself so that his friend Eddie might escape.  It is a noble sacrifice and one I'm sure would mean something had Schespel and Eddie EVER SHOWN UP AT ANY BLOODY POINT IN THE COMIC BEFORE NOW!!!


You're probably wondering who Eddie is too.  Eddie is the genius who designed a peddle-powered submarine that is shaped like an octopus.  Apparently he and Hanna are friends, since he raises no objections to her jumping on board his ship.  Then again, he may just want someone else to do the peddling as they flee for their lives.  
Two days later, Eddie and Hanna emerge somewhere off the coast of the Carolinas.  If you're thinking that's remarkable good time for a foot-powered submarine to travel from Madagascar (I'm presuming the port they just left was St. Mary's), you'd better brace yourself.  Because now comes the point in this story - which I'll remind you features zombies, pirates, magic, numerous anachronisms and steampunk submarines - when things get WEIRD!
The more well-read among you are probably face-palming at this point. 

For the rest of you, allow me to explain.  This Coleridge fellow is The Ancient Mariner.  As in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge - a poem about a sailor who was cursed to walk the Earth for all eternity after murdering an albatross that his crew believed brought them good fortune.  The Ancient Mariner learned from his mistake and now preaches a message of love and respect for all God's creatures.

He tells his story to Hanna and Eddie, who are bored senseless by the whole thing.  The Ancient Mariner recognizes Hanna's map - somehow - and tells her that seeking revenge will bring no good to anyone, for Blackbeard, loathsome though he is, is still one of God's creatures and must be given a chance to atone his wickedness.  Naturally, Hanna is having none of this but she does have wits enough to realize that arguing with a cursed undead sailor is never a good idea.

Suddenly, Eddie and Hanna find themselves standing on Blackbeard's island hideout.  And just as suddenly, the two stumble into a pit-trap and are captured by Blackbeard's crew.  The two are dragged before Blackbeard, who sits on his throne attended by a number of scantily clad wenches.  Because what's the point of being a pirate king if you aren't attended by a number of scantily clad wenches?!

Dead Old Dad is less than impressed with his bastard daughter and I can't say that I blame him at all.  The only reason Hanna has made it this far is through dumb luck and supernatural intervention.  And yet, I can't help but wonder why - if Blackbeard was so concerned about this bastard daughter seeking him out - did he not either deal with her personally or make it a damned bit easier for her to stumble into a trap?

Blackbeard orders Madison to be brought out.  Ready yourself for another pointless plot-twist.  It turns out Madison wasn't really blind!  And why is this pointless, you may ask?  Well...
At this point, I feel it worth noting a flaw in this comic series I've not spoken of much before.  It is very hard to read.  And I don't mean because the artwork makes my eyes bleed or the story is utter crap.  I mean it is hard to understand which dialogue balloons are meant to be read first and how the panels are meant to flow together through a good portion of the book.  There are many places where the reader is meant to start on the right then move left, such as in the page two images ago where we're meant to start with Hanna's thoughts then move to the dialogue on the left.

Another common problem is that this series tells us things without showing them.  Perhaps the writers did not trust their artist to be able to depict a woman turning her head?  Who can say?  Given the quality of artist Bluewater Productions tends to hire, that's not an unreasonable guess.  All I know is that there is no excuse for this story requiring a thought balloon and a dialogue balloon to tell us what it could more easily show us in the art.

Anyway, Blackbeard makes good on his threat and does shoot Hanna.  It's at this point that an albatross flies in the window and begins making enough noise to wake the dead.  Not literally, understand, but the noise is apparently so distracting to Blackbeard and his crew that nobody raises any objection as Eddie picks up Hanna and makes a run for it.

So where did the albatross come from?  From The Ancient Mariner.  Who has apparently gone from being a messenger of God's love and mercy to being this world's equivalent of The Spectre.  He apparently sealed the doors of Blackbeard's tower after Eddie and Hanna were safely away.
Faster than you can say "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!", the Ancient Mariner... eh... releases the Kraken.  At least, that's what it looks like in the artwork.  According to Hanna's thought balloon a green fog ate away at the tower, the crew and everything else.  Maybe she's hallucinating from the blood loss, although she doesn't seem to be at all hurt and is standing unaided in the next panel.   
And so, with her father having tried to kill her and the apparent blessing of the albatross (who scoops up Blackbeard's hat and drops it on her head), Hanna decides that she must continue the legacy of her father.  The father who cursed her mother, hired mercenaries to kill her and then tried to finish the job himself.

Hanna is a complete moron, in case you hadn't noticed.
Then Hanna's eyes rolled into the back of her head as the internal bleeding took its' toll. The End.

This series is one of the worst collection of comics I've ever had the misfortune to read.  If I owned the print edition, I would not use it to pick up the droppings of my worst enemy's dog.  The artwork is terrible.  The plot is incomprehensible, with things happening just because.  The heroine is an idiot who is the least interesting character in the whole thing and her character arc is completely pointless since her one goal is accomplished without her doing a damn thing and then she decides to continue the legacy of the jerkass father she was trying to kill because he was a jerkass!

Stay away from this book, me hardies.  Stay far away from it.

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