Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review - Xena: Warrior Princess #1 (@DynamiteComics)


"Stories can change, Xena."

Life in ancient Rome was hard--despite all their seemingly modern advancements for the time. Travel through the countryside was typically fraught with dangers in the form of robbers, thieves and the occasional encounter with a god or two (at least, that's what the stories say). Having someone patrolling the countryside to support one in a time of need would be welcome and Xena was one such person. Dynamite Entertainment revisits what made her great in Xena: Warrior Princess #1. The issue is written by Genevieve Valentine, illustrated by Ariel Mendel, colored by Nanjan Jamberi and lettered by Rob Steen.

After the Twilight of the Gods, the world is precariously uncertain - and Xena and Gabrielle have been missing from it for twenty-five years. Even without Livia, the power of Rome is growing: Caesar is determined to conquer by lies what he can't conquer by force and the people at its edges know what's coming. (All roads lead to Rome, and Rome is hunting). Xena and Gabrielle scramble to stop him before they have to wage war against a man they once called a friend. But along the way, Xena will have to confront her past against a rogue band of women warriors, and Gabrielle, whose secret visions are becoming prophecy, will have to protect Xena - at any cost.

A lot of comparisons have been made between Xena and Red Sonja, but reading Xena: Warrior Princess #1 shows why the comparison isn't as ready as one would think. Valentine nails Xena's personality well, presenting her as a nomad with a focus on helping those who need her help. In fact, most of the issue features and and Gabrielle traversing the countryside helping, only to uncover that there's a lot more to what they're getting involved in than they previously thought. Xena is extremely confident in her abilities--even when Valentine pits her against some of the more mythological forces that exist in her world alongside her. By the issue's end, the reader has been given plenty of insight into Xena's world and Valentine doesn't make it too overwhelming.

Mendel takes a relatively safe approach when it comes to the art, offering up characters who are defined by concise lines. Xena and Gabrielle maintain their recognizable appearance throughout the issue as carried over from the television series and many of the other characters appear appropriate from a era-specific perspective. There are some combat scenes that boast plenty of combatants, even though the action itself feels a little static at times on those pages. Mendel does fill out the panels with plenty of players though--something that helps gives the world in Xena: Warrior Princess #1 a sense of being densely populated. Jamberi's colors are pretty standard throughout and effectively capture the Roman countryside.

Xena: Warrior Princess #1 is a good return to a relatively old property. The book doesn't miss a beat as far as staying within that universe and picking up where the series left off, putting Xena and Gabrielle right back in the thick of things. Valentine's script is pretty straightforward and gives the reader plenty of information to know what's going on. Mendel's illustrations are pretty good at depicting ancient Rome and Xena's propensity for combat. Xena: Warrior Princess #1 is definitely worth checking out if you want to revisit an older favorite when it comes to warrior princesses.

Xena: Warrior Princess #1 is in stores April 13.

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