Raven: Némésis – Mathieu Lauffray
“The man you see here, tied up off the shore of tortuga, is called Raven. He is an infamous pirate. He can fight, he can sail, and he fears no man. But he is not immune to mistakes.”
An unlucky pirate, hidden treasure, and a femme fatale. What could possibly go wrong?
Raven: Némésis is Mathieu Lauffray’s first official comic book. Published in 2020, it’s the first in the Raven series. Lauffray is a well-known artist in the graphic novel world, most noticeably for Star Wars (Dark Horse) and Long John Silver.
This inaugural volume tells the story of Raven, a fearless pirate who seems to curse everyone around him. It has adventure, revenge, the high seas, the infamous island of Tortuga and a formidable lady pirate throughout.
The comic follows a lone pirate during the 17th century when the British ruled the Caribbean Sea. Arrogant and impulsive, he quickly decides that the governor’s treasure is his for the taking. The governor, of course, doesn’t agree. Allying himself with Lady Darksee, a pirate in search of a royal pardon, both parties race to reach the island first. Battling liars and cheats, cannibalistic tribes, and an entire armada that’s out to get him, Raven does his best to find the treasure first. But will he succeed?
Raven: Némésis is a simple story with many hallmarks of the clichéed pirate genre.
- The illustrations are incredible. Lauffray fully captures the heyday of pirate life during the 1600s. The battles are artfully created, the islands realistic, and the characters are as filthy and scarred as pirates ought to be.
- Lady Darksee is a female pirate. Despite there being plenty of evidence to suggest that female pirates were almost as common as male pirates, they are rarely depicted in media. On top of that, she’s depicted as a talented woman and not an object or a scantily clad distraction.
- The main character is less of a hero and more of an anti-hero. Raven isn’t a good person and doesn’t try to be. In this comic, you’re meant to root for the bad guy, which is pleasantly refreshing from being one of the minorities who supports a story’s villain.
- This might as well be called Pirates of the Caribbean: Comic style. The main character Raven is near identical to Jack Sparrow. Both are constantly getting themselves into tricky situations, both somehow save themselves in comical and unlikely ways, and both prefer to work alone for their own gain. It’s unoriginal and not remotely unique.
- It’s not so much the first volume as it is the prologue. The story only just begins when the comic ends, and as a result, there’s not enough time to truly get into the story. It’s difficult to care about the characters or even begin to like them when the comic’s cut so short.
- There’s a reference to a sexual assault that does not even remotely affect the plot. There are only two female characters (goodbye Bechdel test) and thanks to our white straight middle-aged author, one of them plays the wicked woman while the other is the innocent maiden. Guess who orders whom to be raped? It’s disgusting and unnecessary and quite frankly, an absolute disgrace to read about in the 21st century.
Overall, I’d give Mathieu Lauffray’s Raven: Némésis a two out of five. It’s a stereotypical pirate story full of painful clichés and pointless assault.
I’d recommend this novel only to Pirates of the Caribbean fans, and even then, that’s a big maybe. It’s a simple adventure story if you want a quick read, but other than that, it’s not worth much.
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