REVIEW: Noe: The Savage Boy

Noe: The Savage Boy
Plot: Robert Curley
Script: Malachy Coney
Art: Stephen Downey
Publisher: Atomic Diner
Noe: The Savage Boy #1 continues Atomic Diner’s mining of Irish history and legend for tales of adventure of all stripes, from swashbuckling to superheroes. This time the real-life basis for the story is almost as fantastic as any idea one could find in the supernatural or folk tales of Ireland. The book’s protagonist Noe is unlucky enough to be coming of age in Baltimore in Cork at the time of the most infamous pirate raid in Irish history. In 1631, the legendary Janissary army found their way to Irish shores, sailing all the way from the Barbary Coast. The Janissaries were a fearsome fighting force of the Turkish Ottoman empire, and were one of the most organised and effective armies of their time. They were also known for kidnapping Christian boys to convert to Islam and train as part of their army. In just a few hours, and with only two Irish casualties, the Janissaries were to kidnap 107 inhabitants of Baltimore, to be taken as slaves all the way back to Africa.
So begins the story of Noe, whose fate will take him from the cusp of manhood in a small village in Cork, to becoming, as the book’s solicit promises, ‘a true warrior’.
The book is part 1 of 3, and is again plotted by publisher Robert Curley with script duties handed off to Malachy Coney, whose previous work includes writing for Top Cow’s ‘The Darkness’. In this first issue he does a good job of setting the series up, with a good deal of foreshadowing as we see life in the village before the raid.
The real star here though is artist Stephen Downey, whose detailed pencils and gorgeous inks make this book a thing of real beauty. Credit to Coney for a script that plays to the strengths of his artist, as we are treated to some really amazing double page spreads and splashes in the book. This is where Downey really impresses, showing the Janissaries sailing towards Baltimore, the page rich in detail and awash with atmosphere.
While it is satisfying to see such a high standard of comics out of Ireland, it is even more gratifying to see that Atomic Diner are not afraid to base their stories in Ireland, using our rich mythology and history to form a new layer in the rich tradition of Irish storytelling.