REVIEW: Sword Of Sorcery #0

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Or – “I’m Just Hoping It’s Not Twilight With Swords…”

I’ve been excitedly waiting for this issue ever since they announced that Amethyst was returning to comics, even if it was without Ernie Colón.  With the additional revival of minor 70’s swordsman Beowulf, I have hopes that this book won’t disappear like O.M.A.C. or Static did.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SWORD OF SORCERY #0
Writer: Christy Marx/Tony Bedard
Artist: Aaron Lopresti/Jesus Saiz
Colorist: Hi-Fi/Brian Reber
Letterer: Rob Leigh/Steve Wands
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Sword Of Sorcery:  Years ago, DC Comics would publish stories in different genres, featuring characters who weren’t superheroes.  It was a different time, to be certain, and one where a book featuring a teenage girl from another dimension, raised on Earth not knowing she was a princess, could have a shot.   A dozen years earlier than that, DC gave us the adventures of swordsman called Beowulf, who walked a mystical world in search of a monster called Grendel, so that he could slay him once and for all.  I actually recommend both these books (if you can find them), but how will the new takes fare?

AN AUSPICIOUS HOMECOMING…

The original Amethyst series was an unusual title, with a particular take on life, a combination of the zeal of youth and the dark realities and intrigues of the classic fantasy story.  I knew coming in that there was no way it would play in 2012, and I have to say I was a little bit worried at my first glimpse of Amy Winston, a vaguely gothy type with multi-colored hair and an attitude.  On the eve of her 17th birthday, she finds herself the new kid at what is clearly the latest in a string of new schools, and interacts with some of the usual teen movie cliches.  The bitchy mean girl clique doesn’t like her, the jocks are up to no good, the nerdy girl-next-door is in over her head…  This issue gives us a change from the old series, in that Amy’s birth mother has traveled to Earth with her, and has been training her in the martial ways while keeping her daughter in the dark about their otherworldly origins.  Now that she’s 17, though, that’s all about to change.  The first glimpses of Nilaa (note that Gemworld has also been removed from the title of the series) are intriguing, but the story gives us a cliffhanger and a cameo appearance of a New 52 stalwart that amuses me.  From an art perspective, it’s pretty impressive, too, with a nice change in color palette between Earth and Gemworld Nilaa and some lovely battle sequences in evidence.

“BORN IN A CAULDRON WITH STEEL FOR BONES AND LIGHTNING FOR BLOOD…”

Beowulf’s story is intriguing in a different way, taking place “years from now,” with a small group of soldiers seeking out the tomb of a legendary hero whom they believe will slay a monster.  It’s a pretty quick read, honestly, with a little shock value in the swift and blinding violence of the titular Beowulf.  He hacks nearly all of the party to death, with only one clever lad saving himself from certain death.  There’s no exploration of their future world, save the revelation that it has a vaguely Germanic influence, no real backstory given for Beowulf other than as a (seemingly bionic) killing machine, and a dark ending.  Could it be something amazing in the long run?  Certainly, but this glimpse serves more as buildup for the legend of Beowulf than as a story in it’s own right.  Honestly, both stories suffer from some cramping in this issue, but Beowulf gets the worst of it.  Jesus Saiz delivers a nice job on art, reminding me somewhat of Dale Eaglesham’s JSA work from a couple of years ago, and a fascinating design for the main character…

THE BOTTOM LINE: A MOSTLY POSITIVE MIXED BAG.

The real problem with the issue is in its anthology nature, and I think that both books would probably have had stronger delivery of their first story if they were the standard 20 pages for $2.99, rather than splitting 30 between them.  Sword Of Sorcery #0 is likeable enough, but I’m afraid that it will appeal mostly to fans of one of the characters (and, to be honest, I think only Amethyst really has any fans to speak of), one of the creators or the fantasy genre in general, but wasn’t a bad reading experience overall, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I have to reserve judgement on both stories right now, due to how slight these tales are in this package, but both stories have well-done art and at least a germ of potential…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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