Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island issue 1

Published On March 17, 2010 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island issue 1 (of 4)

by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres

Avatar Press

captain swing

“This is a secret history. Everything I tell you is true.
Ionic air propulsion. Electrostatic levitation. Electrogravitics. The Biefield-Brown Effect and electro-fluid-dynamics. Nothing here is invented. It simply appears to be uchronic, counterfactual, sitting in the break of a time out of joint.
Everything I tell you is true. It is everyone else who’s been lying to you. I am Captain Swing.”

Here we go again, another Warren Ellis comic that sounds like an absolute blast, full of the sort of manic, extreme, sharply dialogued stuff I enjoy from Ellis on themes both he and I find continually and repeatedly interesting; experimental science, crime, law and strange history viewed through a steampunk lens.

But I’m not going to be fooled this time. I think Ignition City taught me something, finally, about Ellis comics; never be taken in by a first issue full of inventive ideas, sparse on plot and dialogue but full of potential. So I’m going to hold off on fully appraising Captain Swing until the inevitable collection comes out – only then will I be able to tell if that early promise was fulfilled in a satisfying story.

Captain Swing 1

(Captain Swing? Possibly. Electrical? Certainly. Whoever it is, he’s way ahead of both types of policemen here. From Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island by Ellis and Caceres, published by Avatar)

Captain Swing certainly starts out as extremely promising, the title comes from Captain Swing, the imaginary leader of agricultural riots of the 1830s but Ellis spins this idea and his Captain Swing appears to be an electrically charged character who the locals mistake for Spring Heeled Jack – another bit of 19th Century English folklore. Throw in the competing law enforcement of the time between the amateur, underfunded and incompetent Metropolitan Police Peelers and the far more professional, armed, dangerous and corrupt Bow Street Runners controlled by the Magistrates and we get an intriguing setup.

Captain Swing 4

(Oh, those text pages just scream Ellis don’t they? From Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island by Ellis and Caceres, published by Avatar)

Then add in all the allusions to secret histories, electricity, scientific concepts way ahead of their times and a “galvanic cell that fell into the sands of Baghdad in 250BC” introduced on the text pages that litter the comic and Captain Swing comes across as a mysterious and interesting, if short, read.

It’s an immediately gripping first issue, supplemented by Avatar standard colour art by Raulo Caceres – which is not bad, doing everything it needs to do with a little style and the occasional iffy panel or figure.

Captain Swing And The Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island – style over content, certainly, but it’s Ellis’ style and I’m a fan. Whether the series lives up to this early promise….. this time I shall wait and see. And if nothing else, the series does have that great title and a beautiful cover.

Captain Swing #2 is due later this month.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

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