Barracuda 1: Slaves

A pirate story that removes the swashbuckling glamour and focuses on the grizzly horror of 17th Century pirates


Nowadays, pirates stories have an unfortunate reputation for being aimed at kids. The glamour of swashbuckling rogues couldn’t be further away from the actual content of Barracuda, however, which starts with a brutally visceral broadsides and boarding scene that rams home the violent greed that lay behind men’s decision to put to sea and steal from merchants and royalty.

From then on it only gets darker. Murder, rape, torture and slavery figure highly, even when the pirates return home to their pirate sanctuary, a town called White Harbour, where the governor keeps a certain level of law and order, but geared around a pirate code of conduct, creaming her own profit off any incoming hoard by way of taxes.


Prisoners from the initial attack, in which only females are spared, are sold to the highest bidder, though a few brave souls stand out from the pirate crowd: an order of priests trying to bring God to the lawless; and a strange seemingly honest buccaneer, whose motives remain unclear.

It’s a grand initial episode to this series, with stunning art and a story that perfectly blends a rich and believable period setting with the kind of violent reality that you probably haven’t seen in such a traditional-looking pirate story. Think Pirates of the Caribbean written by George R. R. Martin.

If that sounds like the kind of pirate action you’d like to get into, complete with art that pops, bringing the action leaping out of the page, then jump aboard, me hearties! Barracuda looks set to take us to adventures on the high seas that would leave most modern representations of pirates crying for their mothers.

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