By Cat Wyatt
Issue number 9 of Scales and Scoundrels is more of a standalone comic, with no connection to the previous plots. That being said, I think this may actually be my favorite issue so far. With Luv having completed all the missions she’s started so far, she’s off looking for a new one, and it doesn’t take long for her to find one (naturally).
While meandering on the beach Luv comes across a stranded man. He can’t tell her his story; he’s lost his voice. He does the best he can by drawing images in the sand. The images tell a story of a fisherman that lost his voice to a mermaid. I couldn’t tell you what the rest of the images he drew meant (there’s people pointing with word bubbles talking about him and the mermaid, but whether they are pleased or angry I cannot tell).
Now, before you go thinking that Luv is going to jump into the ocean to find the mermaid, let me tell you you’re wrong. Okay, you’re not actually wrong, but the motive you might be assuming is wrong. She wants to try and find the treasure a mermaid would have (because of course a mermaid would have treasure). Finding this man’s voice is a secondary goal, in all likelihood (assuming that is even possible).
While diving deep into the ocean Luv comes across a shipwreck. To her disappointment it doesn’t have any treasure in it, but it does have a chest of flowers. That sounds odd, but these flowers are very special. Each blossom has a small pocket of air inside, allowing Luv to continue her search (which is very fortunate, as while she can probably withstand more pressure than most land creatures, she surely can’t hold her breath forever).
Diving to the bottom of the ocean (which is surprisingly bright – I can only assume we’re seeing things as Luv would, and she likely can see very well with little light) she finds a cave. Naturally the cave is full of treasure and lots of fun things like that.
More importantly Luv finds the mermaid. Despite multiple attempts to communicate with each other, they don’t seem capable of doing so. Likely Luv can’t actually talk under water…which makes complete sense. Regardless, their attempts at communication are all pretty cute (mind you, all attempts have been shown mostly with images in the text bubbles, a very nice touch).
Like the sailor Luv met earlier, the mermaid resorts to drawing (using a gem on the rocks) to tell Luv her story. She was lonely and alone, until she saw a sailor by himself. She loved listening to him sing, and happily saved him when a storm threw him off his ship. They shared a kiss, and she sent him back to shore, where we see him crying and upset at the loss of his voice. The next drawing shows Luv happily listening to her seashell, which has the same music notes coming out of it. She (intentionally or not) stole the fisherman’s voice.
Here Luv runs out of air (it was bound to happen eventually) so the mermaid helps her back up to the surface. The sailor catches them both in his net, and cruelly (in my opinion) rips the shell from the mermaid’s hand. It would appear he successfully got his voice back. I understand why he resented the loss of his voice, but based on the mermaid’s reactions I sincerely believe that she never realized that she was hurting the young man; she was just lonely and liked the sound of his voice.
The next page brings us our first words in the entire issue – all the way on page twenty two – it’s a bit disorienting actually. The man reveals that after losing his voice his people cast him out, shunning him for having been cursed by the mermaid. Now that he’s free he’s hoping they’ll let him come home. This at least explains why he was so upset and bitter about the situation; it never occurred to either of the parties involved that the other was hurting during this time.
What Luv did next absolutely solidified my love for her character; she filled the shell with her stories and threw it back into the ocean for the mermaid. I can’t even begin to express how sweet I found this.
This was a fantastic issue. I love that ninety percent of the issue is nonverbal and told solely through imagery and hand gestures. It shows how much thought the creative team put into the story, and it really elevates the whole thing to a new level. Even without words we can tell that the sailor was upset, that the mermaid was lonely, and that neither of them truly understood the other or the pain they were feeling. That Luv was able to understand both of them (and not judge either for their actions) speaks volumes to her character.
Scales and Scoundrels #9