Chain Reactions | Sword of Sorcery #0
As DC’s “Zero Month” continues, this past week they introduced a brand new comic into the mix with Sword of Sorcery #0. The comic features two stories; the first is the return of Amethyst, written by Christy Marx and drawn by Aaron Lopresti, and the second is Beowulf by Tony Bedard and Jesus Saiz. It’s been a really long time since either concept graced the pages of DC Comics, so how did the new takes stack up? Here are some thoughts and comments from around the web:
Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “DC is delivering my favorite of the New 52 Wave 3 titles so far with Sword of Sorcery, proffering two very different, but equally compelling, protagonists in Amy Winston/Amethyst and Beowulf. Marx and Bedard are both crafting very introductory tales here, but I actually can’t fault them for it. The take here is more fantasy than super-hero and readers may need a little more set-up for the less familiar genre tales.”
Minhquan Nguyen, Weekly Comic Book Review: “The plot itself is nothing much: the reclamation of a throne, a family power struggle, warring houses, and ancient history. This is Fantasy 101, but Marx seems to recognize that, so we should expect some new ideas down the line. In fact, Marx begins the process by drawing upon the rest of the DCU for inspiration, including the unexpected appearance of a certain magical mainstay towards the end. You don’t expect this particular bloke to show up in this particular title.”
Joshua Yehl, IGN: “Sword of Sorcery tries hard to make its protagonist Amy engaging and relatable, but her punk look and abrasive attitude do little to hook the reader. In an industry as competitive as comics, Amy needs to be a shining jewel of a character that instantly make her as likable as Barbara Gordon or — if you want to go the opposite route — as wonderfully catty as Emma Frost. Unfortunately, all she does is make me wish I was reading last year’s knockout Marvel/CrossGen title Mystic, which was also about girls learning to use magic with purple crystals.”
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Former Ms Marvel and Wonder Woman artist Aaron Lopresti sticks with the ladies by committing to Amethyst, giving Amy and Gracie distinctive, characterful looks. Sadly, this goes out the window on Gemworld, as the Winston women suddenly look like the Olsen twins at a Renaissance Fair. When they come across Mordiel, don’t be surprised if they break into a chorus of Triplets. Obviously, it’s a story point, but the sooner the three get into distinctive outfits and better differentiate their hair, the better. That’s the nearest thing I have to a quibble with the art, as Lopresti is a solid stylist. I’ve never seen him draw teenagers, but the schoolkids convince me, and I’ve seen Glee. The builds, expressions, postures, they all make for believable kids. As for Gracie – or more properly, Lady Graciel – she’s a harried mom, a tigress determined to give her whelp the skills to survive. And Gemworld looks stunning, fantastical without being twee.”
Chris Sims, ComicsAlliance: “It’s also a difficult balance in terms of storytelling. Marx has mentioned before that she’s a fan of the character and it certainly seems clear that she went into this story with a mandate to update the character and skew a little older, tapping into that lucrative Young Adult Fantasy market that made Twilight and Hunger Games into billion dollar properties. It’s natural that she’d want to deal with themes that were a little darker than what had been done with Amethyst in the past, and as much as I wish it wasn’t, the sad reality of the world is that this probably is a relevant issue to include. But to do this? To go back to the same well that they hit up every single time they want to give something a darker coat of paint without cutting off a limb to prove how super serious their superhero fight comics are? How did this make it past any kind of editorial process without someone realizing it was a bad idea?” (Note: Chris is referring to the attempted gang rape that occurs within the Amethyst story).
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “The Beowulf backup feature from Bedard and Saiz is good, although I must admit in terms of tone it doesn’t quite match Amethyst. Set some time in the future (although if it wasn’t for the remnants of technology you might think it was the past thanks to what feels like some sort of minor apocalypse), it explodes into violence quickly, and is definitely much more dark and gruesome than the main feature in the comic. It’s a good read, though; Bedard quickly sets up the situation as he introduces both the mighty warrior Beowulf as well as the young Wiglaf who was sent to retrieve the potential savior. I liked how Wiglaf’s strength is in his brain rather than arms, and we’re shown a good example rather than simply being told. And in general, a retelling of the story of Beowulf and Grendel is a potential recipe for success.”