Now that her band is in the Pestilent Lands, Deadheart finds her plans changing at a moment’s notice. Who is the real enemy in this land of monsters and illusions? Find out in Queen of Swords #2 from Vault Comics!
QUEEN OF SWORDS #2
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Corin Howell
Colorist: K. J. Diaz
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Editor: Adrian F. Wassell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: August 16, 2023
Previously in Queen of Swords: Deadheart (wielding the talking sword Ga’Bar) and Ka, along with the witch Serra, are working together. Serra knows Soren, and they have a history, including that Serra’s sister Doxon wanted her to kill Soren. The current plan is for them to storm the Citadel and steal a magical orb held within. But as they work their way through town, things seem off. Everyone in town is already dead. The tower of the Citadel is already under siege, and Doxon’s forces get to the orb first. Their only way out is to jump to the Pestilent Lands, a land that does not follow the usual laws of nature.
REVISITING THE PAST
Queen of Swords #2 opens with a flashback, letting us in on more of what happened before. A young Serra leads Soren to the mouth of a cave. Soren is a natural-born witch, and whether she likes it or not, she must learn to use her powers and defend herself. But now she must face whatever is in the cave alone.
In the present, Ka asks Serra why she didn’t just tell Soren that Doxon had a magical hold on her, and that is what led to their falling out. The best answer she has is that she was ashamed and could not be honest to the young woman who looked up to her. Deadheart breaks in to say that the way to become strong is to conquer one’s own weaknesses. Except, of course, for her, because she has no weaknesses.
But the Pestilent Lands are known for their monsters, and several enormous flying lizards swoop down on them. Ga’Bar exults over how they are going to rip Deadheart to shreds. Deadheart counters that she can tell he is looking forward to spilling blood. Ka and Serra try to outrun them, and Ka is knocked from a high natural bridge. Serra reaches out with her magic, chains that originate from her body and tear most of her clothes off. (This is a book for mature readers.) Half the chains lift Ka to safety; the others sever the head from the monster’s body. And Serra hears her sister’s voice.
The next thing Serra knows, she awakens from a nightmare about her sister. Ka is there and asks her what happened. Serra explains how she and her sister became witches, but in her search for power, Doxon headed down a dark path. Serra decided to leave her, but instead, Doxon injected part of herself into her sister’s mind. This is the beginning of a truce between Serra and Ka, although Serra wonders where Deadheart is.
Deadheart found some tracks. As she verbally spars with Ga’Bar, she notes how obvious they are, as though someone meant for them to be followed. Indeed, the tracks belong to Gladius the Orc. He and Deadheart draw their swords. Serra and Ka hear and run toward the noise, but before they can reach the fight, each of them meets with a vision of something they dread.
That is when Ga’Bar notices that despite being plunged into Gladius’ chest, there is no blood. The instant he realizes this, Gladius turns into a specter-like creature and flies away. Ka’s vision involved her own mother. Deadheart finds her and plunges her sword through the woman. Ka is angry until she, too, changes form and leaves.
And what of Serra? She is found by Orcs, thrown over a waterfall into the pool below, and swims to shore where she finds the crone who met Soren in the cave so many years ago. This is a gift, she tells Serra, as the Master is welcoming her home. Indeed, he greets the witch, but Serra challenges him. She knows that he wants to use her to get Soren, but Soren is too powerful for him, she claims. And Serra is willing to use what power she has to stand up to him.
FANTASTIC CHARACTER MOMENTS
For all the drama of Queen of Swords #2, there are moments of humor throughout. Ga’Bar continues to be a source for this. Just because a sword is sentient does not automatically mean that it is expressive, but Ga’Bar has a single eye in his hilt. That eye communicates so much to us as it looks at the monsters and then back to Deadheart. The sparring between him and Deadheart is not all one-sided. He proclaims how much he wishes she were dead. But she has figured out how to needle him back.
I like the sequence with the specters as well. The illusions they cast are so realistic that Deadheart and Ka are taken in by them. We are also. This means it is effective to have Serra encounter the band of Orcs who are really there. When we figure out that Deadheart and Ka battle something deeply personal to them, we have no doubt that Serra fears the forces that her sister as at her disposal. This makes it all the more serious when we realize that her encounter was not an illusion.
BOTTOM LINE: ADVENTURE WITH NO HOLDS BARRED
Queen of Swords #3 is violent and gritty and utterly delightful. Three women find their foiled plans are drawing them deeper into a battle against evil magic, and they are not going to back down now!
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Queen of Swords #3
Serra’s past reveals Soren’s past – and starts to explain the current fight with Doxon!