Review: Sword of Sorcery #0 by Christy Marx and Aaron Lopresti
by RJ Schwabe on September 25, 2012

Back in the 1980s, DC Comics created the character of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, trying to tap into a girl audience. I can’t say that it was much beloved, but it certainly caught my attention, because it looked very different from anything else on the comic book racks. Here was a comic book that was obviously aimed solely at girls, but most girl-oriented books were more kiddie oriented or were tied-in media properties. This looked closer to Mike Grell’s Warlord or Wonder Woman’s adventures when on Paradise Island. I never really read it, even though I was a huge Teen Titans fan and even would read Wonder Woman on occasion, but girl oriented fantasy did not appeal.

The book stuck around in a few forms for about 4 years. You can’t really say it was a successful comic book. But after 30 years, I still remember it, and remember it enough to be curious when DC announced that she would be starring in one of their Third Wave titles.

This is a smart move by DC Comics. There are more girls interested in comic books than almost ever. And trying to tap into the crowd that grew up (or is currently growing up) on young adult fantasy, is also smart. Let’s see if this fantasy tale can bring in all sides.

Sword of Sorcery #0: Homecoming

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Christy Marx
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Release Date: 09/19/2012
Cover Price: $2.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

This is the first issue of this comic book, and it’s made clear very quickly that the events in this book are not tied to the original series.

Synopsis

  • Amy is a teenage girl approaching her 17th birthday. She and her mom travel frequently from town-to-town, with Amy attending the local high school.
  • Gracie, Amy’s mom is constantly training her with a sword and a shield, telling her that she will show Amy her real home when she turns 17 that evening.
  • Amy runs off to check on a friend who is being assaulted by three guys trying to molest/rape her. Amy fends them off, but her friend, Beryl, runs away from her.
  • Lady Mordrel, who rules from the House Amethyst, absorbs the energy of a young girl with blonde hair which means that she is part of the Amethyst bloodline.
  • After the fight Grace takes Amy to a portal which returns them to Gemworld where they are attacked by Lady Mordrel’s army, waiting for their return. Amy picks up a sword and shield and runs to help her mother fight.

Analysis

Let’s start with the bad. The cover is AWFUL. I mean, looking at the cover, you would think you were going read Disney Princesses and not Amethyst. Just look at the cover above, and now look at the picture that ends the title, drawn by Aaron Lopresti. Just two totally different images of the character. Obviously, I much prefer the Lopresti one.

Amy as the loner girl who is ditched by the popular girl as she walks through the halls is very cliché. Yes, it quickly establishes her as the outsider/loner, but it seems a bit too easy.

Other than those two things, this first issue was really well done. One issue does not make a great series, but the overall tone of the book and of Amy, the main character, is really well done. In the first issue, Amy is a delight. Not too much of anything. Rebels against her mom, but comes back when there is a crisis. Enjoys being the outsider at school, but goes to the football game and tries to save Beryl. And Amy’s battle skills don’t seem ridiculous, able to take down three football players is fairly believable, but still shows skill.

Overall, the book had a very girl-positive tone. I like that there was no strong push to make Amethyst sexier or put her in cheesecake poses. (Yes, she’s 17 in the book, but we’ve seen teenagers sexually posed before). The general imagery, especially when she changes into her Gemworld body, is of a very strong hero character, and it is a joy to see it in comic book form.

Oh, and the cameo by my favorite comic book bastard, John Constantine, pushed this one over the top.

Review: Beowulf – Chapter I: The Perfect Soldier

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Jesus Saiz

This is the backup story in the Sword of Sorcery comic book. I actually do not know whether Beowulf has appeared as a comic book character for DC, but my guess is that he is.

In a futuristic fantasy setting, a troop of soldiers are dispatched by King Hrothgar to find the perfect soldier, Beowulf, who resides in a bunker and is sleeping in what looks like a cryogenic chamber. Beowulf attacks and kills the intruders except for the unnamed main character, who pretends that he was a prisoner of the soldiers. After Beowulf frees him, the young man gives him the request from King Hrothgar to come assist in the killing of a grendel. Beowulf leaves the base, which he is sworn to defend, and accompanies the young man, leaving the soldiers to be picked clean by the vultures.

It’s a fine opening tale, and a decent backup story. Beowulf kills and dispatches the soldiers without much difficulty or without even learning their motives. It makes him much less heroic in the first place, but overall I found that I did want to know more about the character. Whether, he is the Beowulf of old, or whether this is a retelling of the story in a future-apocalyptic setting. The art is very well done, by Jesus Saiz, with the middle splash page really showing how he can shine.

Verdict

This was a very good debut. It seems like most of the Second and Third Wave comics have hit the ground running and Sword of Sorcery is no exception. I am definitely curious enough to read next month’s issue. It’s a good debut, and also one that I would highly recommend people of all ages. This comic is obviously geared at girls, given the main character of the lead story, but it also does not exclude the male audience. Amy is a likeable character, and I can see how any lovers of fantasy will enjoy reading about her.

The Beowulf backup story is good for a backup. Enjoyable enough side dish with an excellent main course.

Overall Grade: 9.0 (A quite pleasant surprise.)

Series Grade: A

 



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RJ Schwabe

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