Warship Jolly Roger is a book that should have everything going for it but somehow never comes together. A lot of it feels recycled from other places, the characters are rather flat and we already know what is going to happen through to the end. Yet the artwork, pacing, and story arc are all professionally done. It’s unfortunate, but I found myself very bored about half-way through.
Story: A group of rebels smuggle in operatives to break their leader out of a prison colony on a far planet. Their revolt fails but 4 prisoners do escape: a mass murderer and former military leader named Munro, a starcraft mechanic with ties to the rebels named Alisa, Kowalski the smuggler, and odd childlike Thirteen – a boy who murdered his parents and has mysterious powers. Each have surprising backstories and of course, they are our protagonists as they do desperate moves and deals in order to survive as fugitives.
So why does so much of this feel recycled? For one, the illustration work literally borrows from so many sci fi canon. Star Trek type ships with dual nacells, a character with Princess Leia hair (from the medals ceremony, not the buns), daring flying escapes through maintenance tubes (we even just saw this in the last Star Trek movie), etc. The designs themselves felt recycled too – from cowboyish Kowalski to mutton chopped Munro – looking oddly doglike throughout the volume. And well, it’s hard to appreciate a sci fi where characters use a steering wheel in their spaceship!
The story, too, feels borrowed. Even the main character’s name – Jon Tiberius Munro, is silly (as most know, the “T” in James T. Kirk is Tiberius). And Kowalski as the mechanic is almost a cliche as the down-to-earth guy with connections. Let’s not get into the annoyance that all the main characters are white and non-white characters are evil. The bad guys are mustache twirling cackling bad who have to tell their stories before being offed by our antiheroes. It’s quite annoying and frustrating to see this level of blandness in an otherwise professionally presented piece.
As much as I love sci fi graphic novels, I won’t be continuing with Starship Jolly Roger. Too much feels recycled or borrowed and there just wasn’t enough to keep me invested in the story. It’s not a terrible graphic novel by any means but was missing a much needed spark of originality.