Pacific HC
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: November 16, 2016
Price: $29.99
Creator(s): Martin Trystram, Romain Baudy
Format: 96 pgs., Full-Color, 5.9"x8.3", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-7858-5687-7
Age Rating: Mature
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Published in France by Casterman in 2013 as Pacifique, Pacific is the latest addition to Titan Comics's growing catalog of English-language bandes dessinees.

Written and drawn by Martin Trystram and Romain Baudy, Pacific is a story of a Nazi U-Boat crew towards the end of World War II.  Presented in horizontal layout and design, each page is constructed as a cinematic storyboard with interspersed wide-screened splash pages.  Interestingly, Trystram and Baudy utilize this format brilliantly with shifting grid systems and panel spacing.  The result is a moving, fast-paced narrative, yet one that lacks sincere dramatic or emotional resonance.

For a story set during World War II with a cast of Nazi Germany's Navy, actual Nazis fail to appear.  In fact, only their political ideology of censorship and fear is present.  Pacific is a bizarre tale of a new radio operator, Udo Grothendieck, being assigned to a U-Boat.  With a limited cast of characters, attention is paid primarily to Udo, Captain Kaleunt, and a few of the crew members.  Readers quickly learn that Captain Kaleunt had lost members of his crew in a prior battle, but as far as character development goes, that is it for the entire cast.  Yet, the sudden and mysterious appearance of an unknown book aboard the submarine is the main focus of Pacific.  Where the book comes from, what it is, and the traumatic and transcendent effect it has on the crew is the central mystery.

Perhaps some audiences will find Trystram's and Baudy's layout a disservice to the environment of a U-Boat adventure.  As fans of Das Boot or numerous other submarine adventures will attest, part of the excitement and thrill is the sense of confinement, the lighting, the odors, the sounds--all factors that are not conveyed strongly in Pacific apart from one sequence on pages 30-34.  While there is some dynamic art and strong use of colors, and the ensuing madness at the mysterious book's appearance evolves the story into the surreal, there is little to connect audiences to any of the characters personally.

--Nathan Wilson