These Savage Shores #1, Written by Ram V, Drawn by Sumit Kumar, Colours by Vittorio Astone, Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
During these difficult times, it’s heartwarming to see people banding together and helping each other. It’s also great to see companies doing their part. Both Marvel and Vault have released some comics free over the internet. Vault revealed a few of their number ones, which included These Savage Shores.
For me, some of the best storytelling in the last few decades have been when incredibly talented writers are able to weave stories of our history into works of fiction. Assassins Creed pushing an action game set around the time of the crusades. Or X-Men: First Class with the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. These Savage Shores does the same with a fantasy element set during the 18th century, just before Britain secured its rule in India, using ties to the East India Trading Company.
Writer Ram does an exceptional job of bringing real-life Indian politics (in-fighting between factions of government) and the complexity of negotiations of British involvement with India. This marks a fantastic backdrop for the fantasy horror that comes to the front. Forced out of his city, an ancient evil is sent to create a new life for himself in this newly prosperous country, helped to cross by the East India Trading Company. However, he is fully unaware that these are savage shores, “where the days are scorched and the night is full of teeth.”
Ram does an exceptional job of crafting this story about beasts, gods, and other fantasy creatures around the backdrop of the East India Trading Company, and its dealings with India. This story, although using a creature that may have been used before, always feels fresh. New spins on old creatures and new settings make this constantly modern, despite the ancient setting.
Sumit Kumar’s art is truly breathtaking; in most of the panels, there is an elegance to both characters and locations, despite the characters being monsters of the literal and non-literal kind
Half page taken from issue 1. illustrated by Sumit Kumar, colours by Vittorio Astone
Something I did notice about the art: there are a few panels where detail is lacking. This could be a creative choice with Sumit wanting people to focus more on the location, where streets of Calicut aren’t as clean or refined as others. However, for me the lack of detail on faces drew me out of the story briefly, which is a shame when the writing is so good and the art as you can see above is so visceral.
Despite this very small flaw in the book, volume 1 of These Savage Shores is a true delight. One that gives horror, action, and intrigue. By the end of issue 1 you’ll be wanting to know more, not just about the character, but about what else is lurking in this savage new world that’s been created. With some truly glorious artwork at times, that would look perfect as a painting within a Tim Burton film. Outstanding writing that gives not just depth to character, but also to the locations.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. With the situation at the moment, if people are wanting to take chances on books they might not have considered before, this is the perfect opportunity, with the first issue being available for free. For anyone like myself, you will love special editions of books like this. Close Encounters (my neighborhood Local Comic Shop in the UK) has an exclusive variant on the trade.
You can buy the trade at Local Comic Shops (support your LCS at this time of need) and online retailers.