Dark Agnes – the price on her head is five hundred francs. What did she do to deserve that, and what is she going to do next? Find out in Dark Agnes #1 out this week from Marvel!

Dark Agnes #1 ReviewDARK AGNES #1

Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Mark Basso
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 5, 2020

Previously in Dark Agnes: Agnes de Chastillon has red hair and a short temper. When her father tries to force her into an arranged marriage, she kills the bridegroom and runs away. After training as a swordswoman, she embarks on a mercenary life in 16th century France.

A HEROINE AS SHARP AS HER SWORD

Dark Agnes #1 takes a character created by Robert E. Howard and gives her an all-new story of swashbuckling excitement. It opens in the town of Chinon in France were a man is about to get executed. His hands are tied, and his head is on the chopping block in front of the eager crowd. The charges against him, courtesy of the Duke D’Alencon, run the gamut from gossip and stealing to adultery and murder. This is Etienne Villiers. He jokes about the seduction and declares he’s innocent of the charge of murder. The axe comes down…and cuts his ropes. It is not the executioner; it is Dark Agnes to the rescue! It’s a great classic entrance.

Swordfighting! A horseback chase through town! Agnes shoots a gate, setting a flock of sheep free between her and Etienne and their pursuers! This story does not miss a swashbuckling beat and it is glorious. They get on the road and start catching each other up on what they’ve been doing lately. After a day of travel, they arrive at an inn where they stop for the night. Almost immediately someone recognizes Agnes from her wanted poster. She launches into an impassioned speech about her weapons and her past (a clever way to fill us in about her) and thus intimidates the locals into not trying to capture her and turn her in to the Duke.

Agnes and Etienne eat in peace. As they look around at the other customers, they spot a pretty young lady and her companion, a religious sister. Agnes falls asleep at their table. Etienne takes her upstairs, and she has a bizarre dream. When she awakens, she hears a woman’s voice. Just below her window, the nun is being menaced by a man. Agnes leaps out of her window and kills the man. The nun wants her to be a bodyguard for her and her companion. Agnes isn’t interested until money is mentioned. The next day they’re traveling with the coach and only then do they find out that they are headed to Fontainebleau – where the Duke D’Alencon lives!

The dialogue is a mix of snappy lines with a bit of humor, and a rich use of the language that one would expect from a vintage book. There’s a light dusting of French expressions to help set the scene. The language might feel more elaborate than most people are used to in comics, but I find it delightful.

NEVER A DULL MOMENT

There’s something about the art of Dark Agnes #1 that for me it feels more like book illustration that comic book art. This is not saying there isn’t a lot of action – believe me, there is plenty of that. Perhaps it is the way the art so clearly identifies who are the important characters, setting them apart from the people who would be the extras if this were a movie. Agnes’ entry is dramatic and as fiery as her hair. I’m hardly an expert in 16th century French arms and armor, but everything looks generally appropriate for the time.

Everything is dramatic and maybe a bit over the top. People’s expressions are constantly reacting to one thing or another, and Agnes herself is quick-tempered. There are moments when some faces look odd – in one scene Agnes has a smile that looks like a skinny moustache, for example, but it doesn’t detract from the overall impression.

BOTTOM LINE: YAY, SWASHBUCKLING!

If you like sword fighting and adventure, Dark Agnes #1 is all about that. Despite getting a lot of information about the past as well as possible future story hooks, with all the words that takes, the story doesn’t drag. I like the classic look and feel this one has, and I think it’s a solid beginning.


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Dark Agnes #1

80%
80%
Yay, Swashbuckling

Dark Agnes rescues her friend Etienne Villiers and the two of them set out on a job, straight into their enemy’s land.

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By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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