BPVQ is a beautiful, abstract seafaring tale that begs you to experience it for yourself.

Review: BEAR PIRATE VIKING QUEEN #1 Demands To Be Experienced

Bear Pirate Viking Queen #1 is a mind-bending tale out this week from Image Comics, by writer Sean Lewis and artist Jonathan Marks Barravecchia.

“How did we get here? Boats, my love. And all the men that came with them. This is the story of all of us.”

These words introduce readers to the blood-soaked world of Bear Pirate Viking Queen. The story follows Paul Reddish, a Captain in the Queen’s Royal Navy, whose ship comes under attack by pirates on page one. What follows in the remaining 71 pages… well that’s best left for you to experience for yourself.


bear pirate viking queen image comics bpvq

BPVQ is a book that demands to be experienced, rather than simply read about. It’s an abstract and disorienting whirlwind of a tale where the only thing you can be sure about is that—at some point—you’re going to see some bears, pirates, vikings, and queens. You may not always be sure about what’s going on or how these elements tie together, but that’s entirely by design to put you in the shoes of the main character. Because if you’re confused about how the story got from Point A to Point B, Reddish is there to reassure you that he’s not sure how he got there himself.

“Abstract” can be a scary and off-putting word in the world of storytelling, but rest assured that BPVQ is never abstract at the expense of the story’s humanity or humor. Lewis scatters more than a few gags throughout his script (because what good would a book called Bear Pirate Viking Queen be if it didn’t have some humor mixed in), and you genuinely become invested in the swashbuckling as it progresses. Writing an abstract story can be like walking a tightrope between intriguing and confusing, but Lewis strikes the balance brilliantly, falling square in the realm of intriguing rather than off-putting. Your mind is constantly engaged, piecing things together, dissecting what just occurred and what you think might happen next. It’s an exciting and stimulating experience that Lewis scripts —one which is executed beautifully by Barravecchia.

bear pirate viking queen image comics bpvq

Barravecchia puts on a stellar showcase with his artwork in BPVQ. He largely utilizes breathtaking watercolors throughout, but incorporates a variety of styles, including sometimes stripping down a panel to bare black and white pencils and inks. One panel might feature clear outlines and heavy black brush strokes, and then the next panel—featuring the same characters—will be painted purely in watercolors, sans outlines or definition.

This style leans into the abstract and disorienting vibe of the story, keeping readers on their toes, but moreover, it lends itself to the idea of BPVQ being an experience. Barravecchia’s art is raw emotion etched and painted onto the page. His crashing waves exhilarate you; his black night skies, illuminated only by flashing lightning, fill you with dread. At one point, as Reddish is contemplating what’s become of his life, we see a beautiful watercolor portrait of him as the naval officer from the start of the issue, followed by a scraggly, black and white pen drawing of the man he becomes. It’s a jarring contrast, and the juxtaposition of art styles drives the point home in a more affecting way than only words could accomplish on their own.

Bear Pirate Viking Queen starts by saying “this is the story of all of us,” and by the end, you start to understand what that means. It’s a thought-provoking tale of humanity, a species which has been at war with itself for as long as we’ve been on this planet. It’s a story that wants you to feel something, and wants you to ask questions. And, ultimately, it’s a comic about bears, pirates, vikings, and queens…how can you say no to that?

Anthony Composto - EIC
Anthony Composto - EIC
Editor-in-Chief for Monkeys Fighting Robots. A lifelong fan of Spider-Man and the Mets, Anthony loves an underdog story. He earned his B.A. in English because of his love for words, and his MBA because of his need for cash. He considers comics to be The Great American Art Form, and loves horror movies, indie dramas, action/thrillers, and everything in between.
BPVQ is a beautiful, abstract seafaring tale that begs you to experience it for yourself.Review: BEAR PIRATE VIKING QUEEN #1 Demands To Be Experienced