Norman Williams takes his father’s charge of protecting King Island, Tasmania, seriously, because he loves his home and the way of life the islanders preserved through the horrors of WWII. Therefore, when the hearing impaired veteran sees Japanese whalers harvesting stranded whales in the cove off his property, he immediately reports it to local law enforcement. When his complaint is treated as a joke, Norman takes matters into his own hands and becomes a vigilante hero determined to protect his home, its resources, and its unique way of life regardless of the costs.
The Crayfish intrigued me immediately, because the hero uses a special hearing device designed by his younger brother Gerald. While it is becoming more common for superheroes to have physical difficulties, it’s still not standard, and given that Norman is also a WWII vet like my late grandfather, I wondered about his story. Truthfully, it’s a very simple tale of a simple man who loves his home passionately. Norman is blessed with a younger brother whose technical skills have given him above normal hearing and a horse who understands him without sound or words. I also found him incredibly sympathetic, because I admire a man who fights so hard to protect his home and family. Besides, any man who cares for his family and his animals so deeply can’t be a bad guy!
Norman’s younger brother Gerald and the other denizens of King Island also felt real and human. While Sergeant Beall dismisses Norman’s whale hunter sighting as the ravings of a disturbed ex-soldier, he does investigate the scene and refuses to take any action against the rancher. I got the feeling that Beall has been called to “crimes” by Norman many times before the event in the comic, and he worries about the man’s sanity while still having a soft spot for anyone who faced the horrors of WWII. I loved how plucky and fearless Olive, the only female character in this issue, was during her brief appearance, and I hope she plays a greater role in future installments. She’s a woman of her time, but she refuses to let life pass her by while she watches helplessly. She and her grandfather obviously value King Island as much as Norman does, too, since they cover for him and unwittingly give him the nickname of “The Crayfish.”
Adam Rose’s artwork for The Crayfish is amazing! It isn’t always technically perfect, but the detailed pencil work combined with grayscale marker creates a strange mixture of intense detail and watercolor-like softness. Initially, I had to adjust my eyes to the art style, but by the time I saw Olive’s eyes close up and saw the number of little lines in the iris, I was sold. Drew Close’s lettering also enhances the story, because he chose a clear, unembellished style that stands out from the meticulous backgrounds. I’m especially impressed with the letter to Norman near the beginning of the issue, which mimicked older handwriting styles expertly. (I presume that it was a lettering job.)
Overall, The Crayfish #1 is a slow burn story that bypasses the superhero origin story to just give readers his adventures. I think this expressly Australian tale has a universal flavor that can appeal to anyone who enjoys underdog heroes fighting against the odds, and the lovely art is an added bonus. I hope the team behind this story can get further issues off the ground, so we will see The Crayfish rise again!
4.5 Special Telescoping Goggles out of 5