Blue Juice Comics 2016
Written by Mike Horan
Illustrated by Bong Ty Dazo
Colours and Cover by Tim Yates
Sometimes the best things come out of nowhere. Blue Juice has very quietly become home to some of the most original and well done series of books and it looks like AEther & Empire is right at home among those ranks.
Right away I noticed the interior artwork by Bong and Tim. I’ll say this Tim had to have had a pleasure colouring this and he did an outstanding job of it. Bong’s interiors are simply gorgeous the sheer amount of detail he brings to the work whether it’s in the characters faces, clothing, the ship or the backgrounds all of it is just so stunning to look at. Plus his eye for how to make the story flow and where to draw the reader’s eye amazes me. This is the kind of work that I love to devour and spend my time not even seeing the words but taking in the art.
So this is one of those alternate history kind of stories that takes place in 1879 and you see a flying ship sail through the air like it would the ocean below. With few exceptions it looks dead on what you’d see in the ocean well least structurally otherwise there are balloons helping it stay aloft and the rudder and “wings” from the sides it’s all very familiar, modern and cool. The British Empire has these flying ships and they patrol the air and aid the ships below from pirates. At least that’s the theory.
This issue introduces us to the crew of the Nimbus and a few characters of interest. It sets the stage for the men who serve the Crown and what they are made of. The characterization is pretty spectacular as well. I like the thinking here and when we see action the bravery amidst chaos that sailors are known to possess shines through even what appears to be darkness. There’s some really great and in what I think of as important moments that kind of set the story apart from the historical aspect. I like the innovation and the thinking behind it by Mike. To create something so familiar and yet so different and make it seem like it should have been history is the marking of an excellent writer, storyteller and world builder.
It’s not hard to find a couple characters that are focused on that you find yourself drawn to and hope that this is going to feature them. You’ll know who they are WHEN you read this, well perhaps you’ll know but it isn’t hard to see. There’s something about swashbuckling and swordplay at sea that makes you feel things you normally don’t, and no I don’t mean Errol Flynn either. There’s a grace and ferocity that comes from what we see that ignites something primal in me and the heart races, the blood flows and you’re swept up in this magnificent barrage.
I think with the exception of the last two pages the entire issue is basically a set-up so you know what this world is like, who the stars are going to be and why they were chosen not to mention what they’ve been chosen for. It’s a very intricate, complex and beautifully presented world where things seem the same but took a very different course.
This is the kind of book you come across once in a blue moon so grab one and enjoy the sheer awesomeness of the creativity and grace of the artwork.