Stain the Seas Scarlet Is Philip K. Dick Via Quentin Tarantino

by James Ferguson

With Star Wars: The Last Jedi looming on the horizon, it’s only fitting that I ingest as much science fiction as possible. Stain the Seas Scarlet takes the words “star wars” literally as that’s a taste of what you get in this digital-only one-shot from writer Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Alex Cormack. It follows a woman on an alien world fighting for her race’s survival against all odds. She pulls out all the stops to stand up and make a difference in an otherwise one-sided battle.

Cormack’s artwork is phenomenal. He captures so much in every single panel, ranging from gorgeous landscapes and wide shots in outer space to close, personal moments of deep emotion. We don’t learn all the details of this war, but we learn enough from the characters movements and expressions to know just how deep this goes. There’s a double-page spread that showcases just a few of the events of the past few days and all the bloodshed they’ve held. It’s a lot to take in and each image carries some weight.

There’s a sequence where someone loses consciousness. In a movie, this can be easily shown with some blurry shots fading in and out. Comics don’t have that luxury. Cormack gives these panels a hazy look, as if the character is walking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything slowly fades into white around them. This works incredibly well and doesn’t rely on dialogue to explain everything that’s happening.

That’s a common theme throughout Stain the Seas Scarlet. The artwork is so well done that it does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of storytelling. Each image serves a purpose. There is no fat on this comic. As such, when something is shown more than once, it’s exponentially more important. This is seen as the main character is trying to break into a spaceship. We see her pull back and punch over and over, each time sending more and more debris into the air. The impacts getting bigger and bigger until she finally breaks through with triumph.

One of Lindsay’s strengths as a writer is his character work. Stain the Seas Scarlet is a testament to this as he fleshes out the main character, as well as most of the world around her in a very short timeframe. This story could have easily been expanded into a mini-series from the looks of the scope of it. Cramming it all into a single issue could have been a detriment, but instead it’s a clinic in efficient storytelling.

Stain the Seas Scarlet is Philip K. Dick through the lens of Quentin Tarantino. I’m not just saying that because the comic jumps around in time a bit. It’s a stellar sci-fi story draped in all manners of cool. This is big, bold, and out-of-this-world.

At the time of this writing, Ryan K. Lindsay is seeking funding for Stain the Seas Scarlet on Kickstarter with two weeks remaining. Rewards include the digital copy of the comic, audio commentaries, and original artwork.