Wednesday Comics Review: Sigil 1 and Captain Swing 3

It’s a week for pirates it seems. Very different pirates obviously.

Sigil from Marvel (Marrrrr-vell) by Mike Carey and Leonard Kirk is a return to the Crossgen multiverse – and it’s been a while. But this seems to be a very differnt book. The original, one of the first CrossGen titles, was a sci-fi space opera affair. No longer starring a futuristic soldier Samandahl Rey with a sigil that gave him almighty power, it stars a 16 year old girl Samantha Rey living in modern day America with a sigil who seems to have spatial and time travel abilities that are out of her control.

Sigil uses of the Buffy trick of taking the social problems of high school and making them the kind of threats that call for superpowers. Albeit in this case sending Samantha to the the world of CrossGen title El Cazador and the pirate Lady Sin and her crew. Could this be the structure of the book, having Samantha using her sigil to visit other CrossGen worlds? And how does one of the crew know her and her mother- who we learn recently died in both their worlds? And what relationsghip does Rey have to the

Lots of fun questions, Buffy-style high school, pirates and dimensional time travel jumping in between, all portrayed in a clean open style reminiscent of Morning Glories. What’s not to love?

Avatar (Avatarrrrr!) has a very different pirate. Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres finally reaches a third issue. And it’s a very different kind of book, the art alone showing a dark, deeply textured world, with more in common with wood carvings than traditional American comic book art. We have a nineteenth century Industrial age “sky pirate”, their ship flying over the smog covered cities doing their dirty deeds with technology beyond its time, being chased by the rival law enforcement groups the Bow Runners and the Peelers. And suddenly we’re in traditional modern police storytelling with the Met and the CIA at odds and its the job of the hardest policemen straight from the Sweeney to do their duty.

In this issue we have a more contemplated mood. After the extreme headshot near the beginning of course. It’s all about exploring the island from a newcomer’s perspective and what it means, or rather, could mean for the future. It’s philosophy of warring desires for the future, a clash of idealism and the case made for a society based on hard graft, incredible design and, well, romance I guess, available to all. Even the weapons of choice reflect these viewpoints.

And as much as this is hidden in a cloud of Victorian steampunk, it’s clearly based on the now. With power and money and control and technology reserved for the few, with the rest kept back, kept down, kept without. And it’s a couple of policemen who hold the key to the way the whole world will turn…

Sigil is an action adventure that transposes stylised mundanity with the extraordinary. Captain Swing instead transposes it with a far wider and more wondrous imagined world that breaks the boundaries of the way the world works – and then brings this soaring fantasy down to the ground. It’s a far more impressive achievement in comics form. Even at $3.99, compared to Sigil‘s $2.99, you get a lot more for your money.

Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics in London. A new gallery exhibition has opened instore, ‘Kaleidoscope: A New Look at British Comics‘ – a selection of comics and drawings by new British artists, most of which haven’t been published or exhibited publicly before from Hurk, Joe Kessler, Lando, Joe List, Will Morris and Bethan Mure.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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