ADVANCE REVIEW: Granuaile Queen Of Storms

Written by: Dave Hendrick

Art by: Luca Pizzari

Colours by: Dee Cunniffe

Letters by: Peter Marry

RRP: €12.99

Release: February 16th 2015

REVIEW (Mainly Spolier Free): As the eagerly awaited release of Granuaile Queen of Storms draws ever closer, ICN have been given an advance look at the graphic novel from writer Dave Hendrick and artist Luca Pizzari courtesy of The O’Brien Press.

Granuaile Queen of Storms tells the tale of real life 16th century figure Gráinne Ní Mháille, a brave and fierce woman who ruled the seas and risked her life to protect Ireland from the advance of the English working on behalf of the British Empire under the rule of Elizabeth Tudor.

Granuaile, the daughter of Eoghan O’Malley, a Connacht chieftain, from a young age wanted to protect her lands, customs and traditions against those who sought to destroy them. A head strong person who wished to defy old customs and the initial protestations of her father, she wished to sail on board his ships eventually taking over and leading his men into a number of battles and forging a frightening reputation that spread all the way to London where she would eventually meet Elizabeth Tudor in person.

Hendrick puts together a very strong narrative that jumps around several time periods in Granualie’s life. What stands out how Hendrick uses these time jumps to make Granuaile a really rounded character that the reader very quickly comes to care about. She is someone who has a deeply ingrained interest in the safety of her people and interests and inversely isn’t against using some fierce tactics to protect them. The book dramatizes the significant events in the life of Granuaile with several character interactions that are very well written particularly the kinship that Malin and Granuaile develop over time. Hendrick’s script in turn is very polished. There is a natural flow to it that is constant and Hendrick doesn’t waste any space with every page moving the narrative along at a quick pace. The book is genuinely a one sitting read, epic in scale and a must read.

Pizzari puts together a stunning book ably capturing the ruggedness of the Wild Atlantic Way in the West of Ireland while pulling no punches with some brutal fights scenes that are thoughtfully laid out. There are several scenes that are choreographed in a manner that shows how keen of an eye Pizzari has for layouts particularly when putting together landscape shots or when placing the ‘camera’ to give some great views. I usually like to pick out a page or panel that stand out for me but there are a few here that make it hard to pick just one. Pizzari has great technique that readers of Glimmer Man already know mark him out as one for the future but this book will push him even more into the public eye and it’s well deserved. Lets not forget that that he has an Amazing Spider-Man issue out this year too.

I must mention Dee Cunniffe on colours who does an exceptional job on this book. There is one shot of Granuaile meeting Elizabeth Tudor where Pizzari presents it as a high overhead shot as Granuaile is walking an isle to the throne. But how it is lit with the sunlight in windows and the shadow play combined with the art is a cool image. Cunniffe uses several different styles of colour in the book to subtly highlight the period in which Hendrick has Granuaile. A lighter tone when we see her childhood, a cool almost sepia tone in an early battle scene to some realistic moonlit shots throughout the book that make the colouring in this book some of the most memorable in recent years.

The O’Brien Press have a sure fire winner on their hands here once again. Since the books announcement at DICE 2013 to its imminent release, we have been awaiting this book and now that that time is upon us I can fully attest that it has been well worth it.

Queen of Storms goes on sale everywhere on February 16th and you can meet the creative team  of writer Dave Hendrick, artist Luca Pizzari, colourist Dee Cunniffe and letterer Peter Marry on the day to get your book and your exclusive print signed at The Big Bang store in Dundrum from 6pm on February 18th.