It’s like Firefly, but not in space. Loveable misfit pirates just tryin’ to find their way in life when it seems suddenly the entire world needs their savvy in order to save the whole damn place. The captain of the Rogue’s Revenge, and our main character Tobin Manheim was even in the Navy before skirting the way of dogs.
Sky Pirates of Valendor’s first two trades are made up of a 5-issue mini, and then a 6-issue mini following it. So 11 issues in all. And it’s very much not the end of the series, though like usual with these kind of ongoing stories I do question why the creators feel the need to do a mini-series and then follow up with a directly continuing adventure restarting the numbering at #1 with a new mini-series. Why not just make issue #1 of vol. 2 issue #6?
That being said, I was happy they named it vol. 2 so that it’s obvious it’s a continuing story. And overall I really did enjoy Sky Pirates of Valendor. The second volume much more than the first, but I think with the second, it’s now a matter of the creators knowing their unique world inside and out that they were able to make things flow better. The pacing of vol. 1 is really rough, as are a lot of things with it. I didn’t find myself really invested with the story until the final issue but I did find the characters and the world of Valendor interesting and fascinating.
Tobin is very much like Mal Reynolds of Firefly, an old Navy Captain turned pirate, he’s a half-elf with a loveable demeanor but a sense of duty to the assignment at hand. He’s also pretty handy in a pinch, knowing just the call to make. He also has his own set of past problems that drive his being, and Soares makes sure to give ample time to those revelations and how they shaped the present day Tobin throughout these 2 volumes. I was happy about that as it allowed me to care for Tobin for more than his charm, even though he was pretty easy to fall for early into the series.
His crew is made up of some colorful figures, all of which are a lot of fun when they’re on screen. There’s his firstmate, an Ursa (bear) person named Bryan Springhammer who, you guessed it, uses a hammer to fight with. I love Bryan, he’s probably my favorite character of the series. His ex-wife, Gearz: a cyborg with a WMD-grade system hiding within’ her. Shyni, a werecat “Daklan” who is Tobin’s current girl and a badass ninja in her own right. She’s one of my favorite characters as well, especially after you get to learn more about her. Finally there’s a loveable dwarven duo by the names of Mr. Fritz and Tim that serve as some of the comedy relief, but also do a hell of a lot to help out in a situation as well.
The comedy is light-hearted and fun as well, but almost a little too misplaced once in awhile during the story of vol. 1. In vol. 2 it is a lot more rounded, and the jokes are placed in better spots. One of my issues I did have with both volumes, and I think Soares needs to work on this is that the endings are pretty abrupt and don’t give a lot of breathing room to make you feel as if you just finished a grand adventure. It’s something that personally I just don’t like, I think stories that are at an “end” should have an epilogue of sorts that brings that tale to an actual end. And while both volumes do have epilogues that are setting up a more over-arching story, the MAIN story in both books don’t have very much breathing room to their endings. Vol. 2 more-so than vol. 1 though.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I think vol. 2 is the more superior of the two books. But that’s because there’s a lot more fixed issues in it that show me Soares and company know what they’re doing and we should trust in them; I know I do. I’m excited for the continuing adventures of Tobin and his crew, and I do recommend picking these books up.
The world building of Valendor has impressed me greatly, everything feels very widespread and varied. With tons of varied races and ways of life, each race has their own beliefs and histories. I did like that the process of revealing different layers to this world is stretched out all over the story at key times when they’re needed instead of being force-fed everything at once. I like finding out new things about our characters and their races during the story. Valendor is very unique and I want Soares and Brinlee to know they’ve successfully captured that feeling.
What would be a review without discussing the art? Okay, the art. Brinlee isn’t a bad artist, not by a long shot. I think he needs to work on making everything not seem so flat, especially during the quiet scenes, but his style is very action-packed and in fact the action scenes are usually what looks the best when reading SPoV. I’ll be honest I wasn’t a fan of Brinlee’s artwork for a good while when I was reading, but it really did grow on me and I think he captures the look of Tobin and the rest of the characters quite well. He definitely steps up his style during the second volume though, and again Brinlee really knows how to capture an action so well. I also think it was a good idea to keep the series in black & white. While the covers look great in color, the comic feels very natural in b&w and that’s all that really matters.
I support the Sky Pirates of Valendor. And I think you all should too.
Final Score: 4 Guild Coins out of 5
Sky Pirates of Valendor vol. 1 & vol. 2
Jolly Rogue Studios
Writer: Everett Soares
Penciler: Brian Brinlee
Reviewer: Derrick Crow
Summary: Welcome to the World of Valendor, a bold new world where steam-powered ships sail across the sky and where you’ll find that the standard heroes come in any shape or form – even Pirate!
Life as the most notorious pirates in Valendor comes with its own sets of ups and downs, and sometimes all Tobin Manheim wants is an easy job. His wish was granted when Governor Langford offered him one on a silver platter. Tobin saw an opportunity to make an easy coin and he pounced on it without question. However the costs became greater than the rewards. First cost – Tobin’s dignity. He has to work with his ex-wife. From there, things seem to go straight into the privy. Past accounts become due, parts of his ship explode and when things seem to brighten up, they only get worse. What happens though when Tobin reaches his limit and just wants the job to be over?