The Buccaneer has a lot going for it as a series. It’s Bernard Bailey’s first work for DC, and the art, while rough at the start, is wonderful by the end of the run, and right from the get go the sailing ships are excellent. The story reaches an actual conclusion. I like the time period. But to me it failed to live up to the expectations that came with the name.
I wanted big, swashbuckling adventure. I was treated to an awful lot of talking. Scheming, plotting, lying, to be sure. But talking all the same. Yes, there are some duels, and a couple of sea battles, but it was all far too static.
Dennis Stone is the hero of the tale, a young sailor who takes command of the Serpent after the accidental death of the captain. The first few instalments detail him coming to power, and the bond formed with Daneo, his best friend and later First Mate. Repulsed at seeing a slave being beaten, but helpless to intervene by law, Dennis buys the man and gives him his freedom, but the hunchback, Keboz, has nowhere to go, so Dennis hires him onto his crew.
The previous captain ran the Serpent as a slave transport, and so Stone has obligations to slavers, but refuses to carry their “cargo”, falling afoul of Captain Klough. Klough would convince the Governor of Billburgh that Stone is an escaped slave himself, and the two plot to capture and hang Dennis, who gets aided by the Governor’s daughter, Rina, who kills Klough
After fleeing he goes to a place named Castle Terror. Cause you know, that sounds like a good place to hang out. It’s run by Dr. Killmen, which is another sign you should turn and leave, but Dennis moves in and finds himself stuck in the Man in the Iron Mask, as one of the people there is really the Prince of Natria, being held there as an imposter on orders of the Count of Natria. Dennis frees the Prince and they make it back to Natria, discovering that the Count has imprisoned the Governor and intends to wed Rina. The Prince regains his throne as Dennis defeats the Count and the Governor grants him his freedom. Rina agrees to marry him, and Dennis gives up captainship of the Serpent, passing it to Daneo.
But the thing I liked best was the very last panel, and ad for Bailey’s upcoming More Fun series, The Spectre! This was the character’s first appearance, and the first time that sort of teaser for a new character was done.
Buccaneer: More Fun Comics 32 – 51 (May 38 – Jan 40)