Sea of Red #1: No Grave But the Sea
by Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer, Salgood Sam (Image, 2006)

Imagine being trapped at the bottom of the sea for 500 years -- unable to see in the Stygian darkness, unable to move more than twitch, unable to think of anything but freedom, vengeance and an overriding hunger.

So you might understand why Marco Esperenza, the Spanish sailor who suffered these tortures, bit the first cute girl he saw once he was rescued.

Sea of Red takes two thrilling genres of adventure fiction -- pirates and vampires -- and crunches them together in a book drawn in the rust-brown hues of dried blood. The story begins here in No Grave But the Sea, when Marco is lost at sea for five days before being rescued by a passing ship captained and crewed by bloodsucking fiends. When he tries to stop their butchery aboard a passing ship, he himself is bitten, and the punishment for his effort is marooning at the bottom of the ocean, tied to the figurehead of a sunken ship.

But Marco is finally rescued in modern times by a bathysphere, in which a small film crew is shooting undersea footage. Janine, the director's underappreciated personal assistant, is the unfortunate target of Marco's burning hunger. But the two of them turn out to be a pretty good team as they set out for the island where Marco's vamp/pirate tormentors from five centuries ago might still be hanging out. (The director, a shortsighted and vainglorious oaf, believes it will make an amazing film.)

Graphically violent, No Grave But the Sea is an excellent start to the series. Now that it's in front of me, I kind of wonder why I haven't seen much "vampirate" fiction before today.

review by
Tom Knapp

20 September 2008

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