REVIEW: Amala’s Blade #1

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Amala’s seen some things. Well, OK, she’s done some things, too. She’s a super killer assassin person, after all. Now however, she’s being called up for the biggest job of her life and it’s not exactly like she can politely decline…

Amala coverAMALA’S BLADE #1
WRITER
: STEVE HORTON
ARTIST: MICHAEL DIALYNAS
LETTERS: STEVE HORTON
COLORS: MICHAEL DIALYNAS
EDITOR: CHRIS WARNER
PUBLISHER: DARK HORSE COMICS
COVER PRICE: $3.50
PREVIOUSLY in Amala’s Blade: I’ve not read Amala’s appearances in Dark Horse Presents or the zero issue, but I understand she stole some huge boat or something.

UNREMARKABLE, BUT ENTHRALLING

I arrived at “Amala’s Blade” cold, having not read any of her anthological appearances but, like a river, it’s a world that’s easy to fall into and be swept away. She’s an assassin; got it. The deadliest; cool. And she sees ghosts; OK, that’s probably worth my time to read.

After reading, I spent a couple of days trying to figure out what I wanted to say about the book. I enjoyed it, that much is certain, but I the why was more puzzling. The writing—and this is going to sound insulting even though I don’t mean for it to be—is unremarkable; it gets the job done and moves the action along, but in years hence no one will laud its literary achievements. The setting—techno-worship versus steampunk—is interesting, but not revolutionary. Ultimately, I think I’ve decided that the story, or at least its potential, is the title’s greatest asset. We get an idea f what’s coming, but we know for sure that it’s big—change-Amala’s-life big. Considering the ebullience and personality with which our protagonist faces her circumstances,it’s going to be a pretty good payoff.

This inaugural issue was well paced, but there were some lag points, namely Amala’s interactions with smith’s apprentice and occasional lover, Ren. The exchange between the vizier and his companion was also a little dull, but I think it was meant more to be mysterious, though it fell slightly short of the mark.

INSERT OBLIGATORY ‘DUNE’ JOKE HERE

Let’s just get this out of the way: The vizier is basically Baron Harkonnen—he lacks only a hover-enabling device and an all-consuming desire to control the Spice and, thus, the universe. If neither of these traits manifest in future issues, I will be disappointed.

I would call Michael Dialynas’ art “gritty.” He’s clearly skilled, but his drawings purposefully retains some rough edges that give the book a style that’s more hewn than crafted. Thematically, it’s beyond appropriate—this is not a world of clear-cut corners and smooth lines; it’s a hardscrabble existence for many and the art lets us know. The layout is simple: a few square or rectangle panels per page with an occasional rhomboid but, again, simplicity feels like the best solution for “Amala’s Blade.”

Dialynas shines as an action artist. The tavern melee and the Modifier/Purifier gladiatorial fight are quite well done and the latter incorporates a clever visual transition to another scene. Most impressive.

BOTTOM LINE: WENT IN COLD BUT WARMED TO IT QUICKLY

Dark Horse suggested this book to fans of “Trigun,” and in another life I was a huge devotee of 1998 anime series, so I jumped on this and was beyond pleased. My expectations were middling, but Horton and Dialynas vaulted over them with Olympic grace. “Amala’s Blade” has my loyalty for this four-issue run and I even like it enough to hunt down our young assassin’s other appearances. 4 stars—buy it.

Rating: ★★★★☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!
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