Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Blackbeard Legacy - Part Three

When last we left The Blackbeard Legacy, we knew precious little more than when we'd started.  Halfway into this series and all we've learned about our heroine Hanna Teach is that she claims to be Blackbeard's daughter and that she wants revenge for what Blackbeard did to her mother.  It took us two issues to learn that much of who she is and what her motivations are!

There was also some nonsense about a zombie-raising bounty hunter and a key that has something to do with finding Blackbeard, but none of that really seems to have anything at all to do with the plot, such as it is.  You can read my commentary on Parts One and Parts Two if you really must know more.

Now read on...

How much do you want to bet they didn't have time to finish coloring this page?

Astute readers will note that the art style for this issue seems to be different.  Not better, mind you - just different.  The characters are still misshapen and oddly colored but now their eyes are smaller and their hands are freakishly big.  And yet, I consider this artist - who is uncredited in all the information I can find on this issue - to be an improvement on Mike Maydak, because while the character designs are outlandish they are also consistent.

Unlike the first two issues of this series, we do not start with a rambling narration from Hanna Teach.  Instead, we open somewhere off the coast of Africa, in a tower.  Here we find Drake Santiago, Fearless Pirate (TM) bragging about his latest adventures to a pair of conquests.  Whether they're bought slaves in matching costumes or ladies of negotiable affection who just happen to wear the same outfit is unclear.  It is also unclear if the dark-skinned woman is Hanna Teach, once again working undercover to retrieve something she needs.

The only thing that is clear is that Santiago is ready to celebrate his victory in style with some good old-fashioned booty plundering.  The Asian woman offers Santiago a drink to help him relax.  The drink soon has Santiago feeling more than relaxed - he's downright helpless!  It turns out the Asian one of his nubile lady friends in an assassin out for the bounty on his head! 
Luckily for Santiago, the other lady friend is also an assassin - one out for the bounty on the other assassin's head.  She retrieves a pair of pistols from... somewhere (Seriously!  Where does she get those guns from?) and blows the first assassin away.  It is here we find out that - despite looking very much like Hanna Teach - the other lady friend is not Hanna Teach, but is a bounty hunter named Morgan "Hack" Sheppard.
In a final bit if irony, Morgan reveals that nobody in the tower was who they claimed to be.  She knows that "Santiago" is not actually Santiago on account of her partner killed the real Drake Santiago a while earlier.  She's kind enough to advise Santiago about being more careful who he pretends to be in the future, noting that not all bounty hunters are as scrupulous as she and her partner are about confirming their targets before killing them.  Not too long that, after we meet Morgan's partner - a pirate named Patrick - and they're on their way to claim the bounty on the Asian assassin. 
At this point, some of you may be wondering what happened to Hanna Teach and why this story has suddenly switched focus onto this other pirate woman, particularly when the last chapter ended on a cliffhanger suggesting that Hanna was about to get attacked by zombie assassins.  That's a good question. 

Another good question is why do we now know more about Morgan and her motivations and backstory after half an issue than we do about Hanna after two issues?  And a really good question is why I'm so much more interested in Morgan's adventures after this short glimpse of who she is and what she does compared to Hanna.

Well, I do have an answer for that last one.  It's because Morgan is an interesting, morally complex character who does exciting things!  Compare that to the casually exploitative Hanna, who freely uses people without thinking and spent most of last issue walking around asking random townsfolk for information.


Cut to a tavern in Gibraltar, where Patrick and Morgan meet with their contact, collect their pay and find out about the next job their fixer had for them.  This is where the plot (such as it is) finally gets back on track as we find the bounty hunters' next target is - big surprise - Hanna Teach!
As Morgan goes to get her contact another drink, she's confronted at the bar by Phahed and Sharah - a rival team of bounty hunters.  They trade some sharp words about how Morgan should be working at the whorehouse down the street and how Phahed and Sharah are unskilled grunts who get by doing the dirty jobs Morgan and Patrick refuse on reasons of principal.  The kind of jobs that involve killing orphans and feature eating their corpses as a side-benefit.  
The duo inform Morgan that they came as a professional courtesy.  Someone else has put a price on Morgan's head with a bonus for Patrick.  Naturally, the cannibals mean to collect that bounty themselves.  But being the sort of idiots who inform someone that they're going to try and kill them instead of just killing them, they are easily startled when Morgan puts up a fight and a bar brawl ensues as a result.
As Patrick and Morgan make good their escape, we cut to the pirate haven of St. Mary's, just off the coast of Madagascar.  Here we find Hanna Teach and some of her crew, shopping for supplies (i.e. rum and limes).  Teach claims she's also there to rob some of the dead king's tombs that lie under the island but is quickly distracted from both thoughts of treasure and fighting scurvy when one of her crew spots her wanted poster.  And so our comic ends with Morgan showing up and placing a gun against Hanna Teach's head.

This issue is the chapter of The Blackbeard Legacy that really made me hate this series with an intensity I usually reserve for child molesters, book-burners and Mark Millar comics.  Not because it was bad but because it was so much better than the rest of the series.  The fact of the matter is that Morgan Sheppard is a much more interesting and competent heroine than Hanna Teach.  To have nearly an entire issue devoted to such a character after two issues of banality is painful because it gives you hope that things are actually improving.

Alas, it is a false hope.  As you will see next time when we conclude The Blackbeard Legacy...

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