Pirate Eye – Mark Of The Black Widow

Genre is a curious thing that is just as malleable as it is set in stone. Though particular genre’s have fallen out of favour over the years as new ones have been invented the older genre’s often have a habit of coming back as they are combined with other s to create something new. It is this approach that is taken up in the latest one shot release from Action Lab comics, Pirate Eye: Mark of the Black Widow, a book plundered from the now defunct Zuda comics line. While on a first glance the title might seem like a groan inducing pun that would result in the teller being forced to walk the plank the story itself is a neat, self contained tale that takes the tried and tested elements of the detective & pirate genre and mixes them together to make something that while not entirely original is still fresh enough to warrant a look.


The central character in this mystery is a man simply known as Smitty. Though Smitty monologues his way through the book his actual character and history remain as mysterious as the books central plot. Smitty is a finder. A man who for the right price will get you whatever you want – & his central role in the story, tasked with finding a girl for an unnamed Governor in the local house of ill repute, is to do just that. The mystery of who Smitty is allows the reader to project their own ideas onto the character making far easier to identify with than you would think or like. The story itself is relatively efficient and while it doesn’t contain any mind blowing twists or unexpected turns, writer Joe Grahn opts to keep things succinct, something that satisfies the audience without ever trying to second guess them. It’s nice to see the story come first in an age where any tale with a mystery at its core is often little more than an excuse for dangling carrots in front of the audience to cover up for the fact that nobody has a damn clue what they’re doing.


Carl Yonder’s art in Pirate Eye is just as shadowy as the story and while the setting may be all about Pirates the tone of the book is all noir & the use of colour in particular to enhance the mood of certain scenes work very well. This look juxtaposes nicely with the story and much like the writing it is the story that the art serves first and foremost. Grahn & Yonder also pay attention to the golden rule of comics, preferring to show their audience something rather than tell it to them. It’s this that is the books greatest strength as it brings to the fore the standout aspects of both the writing and the artwork & how they best function together as a whole.


Pirate Eye is a great book with good writing and solid art. While it may not be about to birth a new genre all of its own, it is a well written story that clearly understands the finer points of those that came before. If you’re a fan of either genre or looking for a decent twist that offers something new Pirate Eye should be worth pillaging from your local comic book store.



(For the record I’m not actually suggesting you steal a copy of the book. It’s only $3.99, that’s barely a doubloon, so just buy a copy instead.)