You’re on the high seas in some post-apocalyptic version of the coast of New York state where the waters have risen to engulf the cities of the coast and strange creatures inhabit the depths. As the cold and polluted water pulls you under, you take a last look at the skyline and wonder if anything human could have survived the destruction. As you ought to know, the punks and outcasts of New York City and Jersey are virtually indestructible and what more logical occupation of the the tattooed, dreadlocked dregs of society than piracy? If your luck has run out, you’ll be dragged from the lizard-infested waters by pirate Lee and the crew of the Hoboken who may or may not have the courtesy to strip you of your valuables before throwing you to the ship’s cook for dinner, or back over the side. If you’re lucky, one of the crew of La Revancha will spot you first, and haul you up the side to meet Captain Cannonball Joe – a great shot, a cunning plotter… and devilishly handsome, in an unkempt, peg-legged way. Archer, the hapless hero of the story, is one such castaway, rescued in the nick of time by Joe’s crew from a very nasty fate aboard the Hoboken. Archer gets thrown to the ship’s cook on La Revancha too, but as an apprentice chef not a tasty addition to the menu. As Archer gets to know the ragged and hilarious crew of La Revancha (from Deathsnake the one-eyed first mate down to Abby the ship’s fisherman) and learns the secrets of the ship (where Gripp the nocturnal ship’s lookout sleeps and how to harvest eggs from the birds that nest in the rigging) the crew begin to suspect that their new sous-chef has a few secrets of his own. Confronted by Joe, Archer has to decide quickly how much of his past he’s willing to share with his new companions, and whether the fastest ship in Jersey is good enough to hunt the East Coast’s greatest treasure. East Coast Rising is a great “yarn” in the tradition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Treasure Island – the action never lets up, and neither does the witty banter between crew mates. I finished the book wishing that I could go out for a drink with Cannonball Joe and Deathsnake to hear a few more tall tales of derring-do. Cloonan shares Ted Naifeh’s admiration and affection for the world’s oddballs and misfits, suggesting that in a difficult situation you want the guy with the skull tattoo and the girl with the odd-colored contact lenses and lip piercing at your back, not brandishing harpoons across the bows of an enemy ship.
East Coast Rising, Volume 1
by Becky Cloonan