Review: ‘Knights Vs Pirates’ Is A Great Sword, Sorcery And Swashbuckling Adventure From Start To Finish

by Olly MacNamee


A tale of time-travelling, swashbuckling and sword and sorcery, ‘Kings vs Pirates’ delivers big in both narrative and art. Jay Martin creates an interesting new take on the well trodden King Arthur legend, while artist Chris Imber dazzles with a style reminiscent of the great Joe Madieura (Battle Chasers). A big, fun high concept read from cover to cover.


Now, I’ve read a great deal of Arthurian adaptions over the years, but I can’t remember one that matches the might of Camelot’s Round Table Knights with the scavengers of the Seven Seas; pirates! But that’s the premise for new Reckless Heroes’ graphic novel Knight vs Pirates from writer Jay Martin, artist Chris Imber, colour artist and letterer Chris Jenkins. A bold retelling of the Arthurian legend that incorporates the legend of Atlantis, history and more into the story to great effect. A high concept, high octane story executed excellently well. 

There are the familiar faces from Arthurian legend, such as Nimue. In many legends, as in this one,  Nimue is often cast as the Lady of the Lake bequeathing Excalibur to a young King Arthur as most school children will probably already know. But, writer Jay Martin puts an interesting twist on both her origin and that of Excalibur by incorporating the legend of Atlantis into the heart of his story. Martin has certainly done his homework, that’s for sure, and connects two ancient legends – King Arthur and Atlantis – brilliantly and originally and sets up an exciting untold tale of Camelot.

And, if you have that nagging feeling that Pirates and Camelot are a rather incongruous match, you’re not the only ones. There is some unease in Arthur’s camp when he hears tell of “strange devices both wheeled and hand held.” Something smell fishy here, and it isn’t just the pirates. I mean, last time I checked Blackbeard – as featured in this action-packed sword, secrecy and swashbuckling story, lived in the 18th century and not the 7th century. Needless to say, some supernatural time-travel is at work here, but how?

Well, that will become more apparent if you decide to pick this book up, which I highly recommend after reading it and being blown away by it’s high production quality. Jenkins colour art helps delineate the various scene and the past from the present while adding a great deal of colour to proceedings. He helps add texture to the various settings as well as a glow to even the darkest of scenes.

Blown away by a script that really shines with an originality that Kieron Gillen would be thankful to have included in his own Arthurian based adventure series Once and Future. But, it’s the illustrations by Imber, that undoubtably helps level-up this graphic novel into a highly polished and professional publication that wouldn’t be out of place alongside many of the books Image Comics or Dark Horse are currently putting out. One of the most professional looking books that’ll you’ll see coming out out of the small press community this year. Knights vs Pirates really is a great ambassador for the UK’s thriving and talent-packed independent comic book community. 

The narrative moves along at a brisk pace, with plenty of timely flashbacks to inform readers of characters, their origins and motivations, thereby preventing the story from bolting too fast, too quickly. And, there’s a great deal of backstory to include. All lavishly choreographed by Imber, who has his work cut out for him with so much period detail and from more than one era and culture too. If you loved Joe Madieura’s Battle Chasers, you’ll love this! Imber unashamedly acknowledges Madieura’s style as a huge influence (as well as Humberto Ramos), making him the ‘hottest’ untapped talent around for my money. If you genuinely love comics, you’ll genuinely want to grab a copy of this if you can. 

Martin’s script is a wild ride, what with so many diverse element at play. But he orchestrates it well for a writer with only a handful of titles under his belt and the whole team should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. It’s a very well polished script and a hugely entertaining story. Like I said, I’ve read a lot of tales on the King Arthur legend, but I was still pleasantly surprised by this one. While we inevitably deal with archetypes in such a story as this, this is an action adventure story. More blockbuster in scope that art house, and embracing this with open arms.

Knights Vs Pirates is a rollicking ride and one Hell of an adventure that is influenced by many various sources but weaved together to create one kick-ass shared universe full of action, adventure, myth, legend and great looking art. A great calling card for all at Reckless Heroes. I raise a flagon of mead to you all and great success with this new release.

Knights Vs Pirates is available to pre-order now from Reckless Heroes now.

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