I’m a sucker for a good fairy tale. Magical quests, enchanted objects, strange powers, epic adventures… The more of it that can be fit into a story, the better. If you feel the same way, then you’ll be happy to learn that The Flying Ship has plenty of all of the above, and more.
We start with the prologue, wherein three brothers battle for control of a kingdom—a battle that results in death, destruction, and, ultimately, the banning of any and all magic from the land.
The actual story then begins a number of years later, as Tzar Anton releases a proclamation: Anyone wishing to marry his daughter, Princess Sabina, must build a ship that can fly through the air. No easy task, considering there’s no magic. Still, everyone is excited about the possibility and eager to find a way to complete the task and win the princess.
Everyone, that is, except Dobrinia. A jaded and embittered young woman who’s lost her father and her leg, Dobrinia thinks everyone is stupid for scrambling to accomplish such an impossible task. In fact, she seems to think everyone is stupid just in general. She mostly keeps to herself, and when she does have to deal with other people, she yells a lot.
Still, underneath it all, she’s a goodhearted person who, even if she grumbles about it, wouldn’t turn away someone in need. Dobrinia dreams of one day getting out of the small, crummy town where she lives and seeking her fortune. Just not with anything as silly as a flying ship.
Then, someone gives her a flying ship. A chance encounter with a powerful wizard leaves Dobrinia with the very ship that the kingdom is searching for; however, the wizard also leaves her with a task: to gather a crew of people with special abilities, win the hand of the princess, and seek out a mysterious black egg.
Dobrinia doesn’t so much go looking for the crew as stumble across them. She’d be happy to fly the ship all by herself, but when a young man named Tamiel with a knowledge of medicine and eyes that can see clearly for many miles happens to show up, she’s not going to turn him away. Then, when they meet a beautiful witch who can travel a long way with a single step, she might as well come along, too—after they complete a couple of magical side quests, that is.
There are a number of side quests in the story, and there will likely be a fair number more before it’s finished. This first volume covers over 200 pages of adventure, and it still feels like the story is only just beginning. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’d gladly read another three or four volumes’ worth at least of these spells, curses, creatures, and other magical goings on. Besides which, the best fairy tales are the ones that don’t travel in a straight line, but zigzag all over the place, picking up characters and adventures wherever they go.
The world of this comic is clearly inspired by classic fairy tales (particularly Slavic folklore, which I admittedly don’t know as well), but it’s also very much its own world with its own rules, apart from the stories you’re familiar with. The worldbuilding, through the writing and particularly through the art, is one of the things that makes the story so compelling. The deeper we travel into this realm, the more we want to know about it.
The Flying Ship is a unique and fun story with a lot going for it, and I’m eager to find out what happens next. If you’re a fan of fairy tales and epic quests, you won’t want to miss this one either.
Creative Team: Jem Milton (creator/writer/artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Click here to purchase.