Northwest Passage (Review)

Northwest Passage (Review)

kay, so I picked this one up at the Forbidden Planet shop (right next to the Strand Bookstore) on my New York trip. I’m not a big graphic novel fan – loved the original 300 and was reading The Spirit way back in the day. I’ll admit that there is a certain depth (dimensionally different from superb writing, but still there) that pictures can add to a story.

So, here in Northwest Passage, we open with an Indian getting run down by a mob of Europeans on a ridge overlooking an English wilderness fort, where within, the one-time wilderness explorer and soon-to-be one-time governor is stepping down, giving a speech at his going away party while his half-Indian son sulks and his dandy nephew is coming on the resupply ship. And something is afoot here – the resupply ship finds a couple of Trojan horse boats filled with “injured” men, the left-for-dead Indian has been discovered by the fort’s hunters and brought in, with tales of French mercenaries burning out Indian villages, and everything is about to hit the hand fan. And poor Governor Lord wants to just step down and return to England. Actually, he really wants to go exploring again. But nobody gets what they want.

It was a good read, a lot of fun between our sallies into New York. The imagery was all there, the idea of wide open space, of stern Indians and Europe with its boot-toe so precariously slotted into this new world. The art was very linear and fine, and some of the scenes were eye-popping (I loved the native son shooting someone at the end, the “BOOM” forming the border box for the image).

Now, if I had one thing to point out (and this comes from a historical writer), the period-ness of the thing seemed a bit faint, meaning it seemed more 2007 (about when it came out) than 1755 (the era it portrays). I don’t know if people back then had retirement parties like we do, with a speech and fond wishes and cake or whatever. No, I think people just showed up and drank. Who knows if a Governor would really open his house to just about everyone in the settlement. Perhaps it would be more a tip of port into mismatched glassware with the officers while his men shrugged over the concept of governorial changes. But then again, the opening scene of the party was more story backfill than anything else, introducing us to the Governor, his moody boot-in-one-world, moccasin-in-the-other son and the various other characters. And really, if we want to be authentic, it’s Olde Englishe then, right? No, it was a niggling doubt of mine, no more.

So I enjoyed it and would recommend it. Given our for-print world, it’s probably still out there if you’d like to read it. And it opens to the possibility that Charles Lord dosn’t go back, that he’s got a son to reconcile with (who is mooding about in 2007, you know). But have a look. Great art backed by a good story.