Arr! Here Be Pirates!

The Strangers #9 cover by Rick HobergThe Strangers # 9
“Taken By This Guy!”

Written by Steve Englehart
Layouts by Rick Hoberg
Pencils by Steve Skroce
Inks by Tim Eldred
Edited by Roland Mann

Let me start by saying that this is one of my all-time favorite issues of The Strangers. There’s some seriously whacked-out stuff that goes on in here but it’s delightfully strange and I love it.

Our heroes are in hot pursuit of answers when we begin our story, intent on following up on the coordinates given to them by Yrial before she was taken away by her people last issue. As such, they’re boarding a yacht in the Caribbean and we get some incredibly awesome character work from Englehart here — we get to see more of Hugh and Candy’s romance, which while extremely physical does seem to include some genuine emotional connections, as well. Hugh seems to recognize that he’s lucky in this relationship and doesn’t want to screw it up. Meanwhile, romance is brewing in other quarters, as well — Bob has taken an interest in Candy’s physical attributes while Elena is admiring him, in turn. There’s some fun stuff where Elena is thinking how strange it is that age 31, she’s the “old woman” of the group. She decides to try flirting with 19-year old Bob to prove that there’s some life left in her!

Meanwhile, Leon continues to prove that he’s really the heart of the group as he worries about Yrial. Leon is usually the one who shows the most genuine concern about the other members — especially Yrial, with whom he bonded early on. It’s a sweet side to his character and I’m glad that Englehart didn’t go the “angry black youth” route with the character.

Once they decide to take a break on an island they’re passing, we get to see my favorite parts of the issue — Cap’n Scar and his gang of Ultra pirates: Scar himself is able to absorb powers via a scar on his chest; Gecko is a lizard man; Sandblast is basically Marvel’s Sandman; Yardarm is able to stretch his arms; and Sangre seems stronger and faster than a normal woman. The villains talk in pirate-speak and attack passing ships, looting them for all they’re worth… and they’re thrilled to see The Strangers. Why? Because they were also on the cable-car in issue one! When they got their powers, they decided to become pirates.

That’s right!

They decided to become pirates.

I adore that. I do wonder — did they talk like pirates before they got their powers? Did they always have a fondness for nautical stuff? Or did one of them pitch it to the others as a gimmick? I’d really like to know! It just doesn’t seem like something a normal group of people would do. Rob banks? Sure. Get revenge on bullies from school? I could see that. Start hanging out in the Caribbean talking like pirates and dressing like one? Huh.

Anyway, The Strangers defeat the bad guys and leave them for the Coast Guard to pick up. They then resume their trek towards the coordinates that Yrial gave them. In terms of progressing the “epic” from last issue, this one didn’t do much but it gave us some great character moments and the villains were a blast so I give it an enthusiastic thumb’s up!

The art here is by Skroce, following Hoberg’s layouts, and the stuff is gorgeous. Everyone looks great and the action scenes are never confusing. I love the designs on the pirate villains, too.

Great stuff!

Next issue: The Door to Doom!

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