Comic Review: Sword Of Sorcery #0
I’m a little bit confused why DC titled the series Sword Of Sorcery and not Amethyst. She’s the protagonist and even the cover has Amethyst in big purple letters while Sword Of Sorcery is crammed up there in much smaller text. The book is billed as an anthology but everywhere you look DC are hyping it as the return of Amethyst. I wonder if they’re concerned that Amethyst won’t take off or that a relatively little known female character can’t carry her own book. Regardless, I hope DC don’t pull Amethyst from the series anytime soon as thanks to her I’ve got plenty of positive things to say.
For the vast majority of the issue Amethyst spends her time in her human guise Amy Winston, or Freaky Amy to the local high school jerks. In the first panel we’re shown that Amy is an outcast, at a glance she stands out visually amongst the rest of the ‘normal’ looking teens with her coloured hair and clothing choice. It’s a great opening as who can honestly say that as a teenager they never felt completely out of place at one time or another? This isn’t a sob story though Amy’s a pretty tough character and shows early on she can more than stand up for herself. Writer Christy Marx has created a really relatable character in her, I haven’t been in high school for years but I found a lot of what Amy said rang true. With a few lines of dialogue Marx shows she knows precisely what it’s like to be a teenager.
Sword of Sorcery, as the name suggests, is a fantasy book. Things start out normal enough but I can say with certainty it’s obvious we’re not going to spend too much time on Earth as things progress. We’re given a peek into Amy’s home dimension of Gemworld and it’s firmly on the high fantasy side of the scale. The establishing shot is a huge glimmering palace with exotic birds swooping past and extravagantly dressed characters. Aaron Lopresti’s art is a perfect match, he gives the setting a real magical air. The Earth scenes are fine as they are but as soon as we’re shown Gemworld the colour just bursts from the page and the detail goes up a noticeable notch, glance at any panel in the book and you know which land you’re looking at. The change helps sell that we’re witnessing an alternate world to the plain old high school where things begin.
There’s also a backup story by Tony Bedard that re-imagines Beowulf in a post apocalyptic setting. Rather than go for a nuclear wasteland it’s an intriguing blend of fantasy to the backdrop of near-future remnants. While Amethyst is all flashy magic Beowulf has it’s inspiration pulled more from the Conan crop, the two are almost total opposites. The environments by artist Jesús Saíz look harsh and the action is a lot bloodier and dirtier than Amethyst. Disappointingly the premise is more appealing than the execution as thus far the story seems pretty typical. Although the artwork makes it worth a look and the futuristic medieval mashup is fresh enough to keep me on board for a bit longer. But with this debut issue Amethyst is strictly the stronger tale of the two.
Overall Sword of Sorcery is an enjoyable book. It’s beyond refreshing to have a female character headlining a comic that acts and looks like a real person too, Amy’s strong but still vulnerable or to put it better: she’s human. High fantasy is also a bit of a rarity in comics at the moment, especially by the big two publishers. I’m genuinely worried this book is going to tank as I understand how easy it is to miss a book about a character you barely remember, but the artwork and writing combine into a pretty enticing package. I suggest giving it a chance and showing DC that there’s room in the their lineup for something a bit different than their usual titles.