Friday, June 23, 2017

Review - SwordQuest #1 (@DynamiteComics)


"So what's a SwordQuest?"

Video games didn't always used to be the massive spectacle that they've become now. In the past--before 4K was a thing--they relied more on a sense of friendship and huddling around one screen with a rental from Blockbuster. SwordQuest #1 from Dynamite Comics seeks to revisit that unified sense of friendship. The issue is written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, illustrated by Ghostwriter X, color flats by Karl Fan and lettered by Josh Krach.

In 1984, Peter Case was on his way to being crowned champion of SwordQuest, set to win the last of four contests and lay claim to a golden sword worth over $50,000! But when the game was discontinued, Peter found himself without a game to finish. Now, over thirty years later, Peter's stuck in a different kind of game entirely -- the game of life, and he's losing fast. But when he learns that all the prizes meant for the SwordQuest contest of his youth are on display in the World Arcade Museum, he finds an unknown determination that sees him put together a team of like-minded losers for the ultimate heist job -- a real-life sword quest!

Bowers and Sims want to take the fictional quests of our youths and turn them into something a bit more tangible. In that regard, SwordQuest #1 succeeds brilliantly by presenting a pretty credible set-up to the series. Bowers and Sims fill the issue with a decent amount of backstory that lets the reader know about the relationship among the main characters and how they've cut their teeth together on the classic SwordQuest game. The dialogue is pretty straightforward in this regard and doesn't get too wordy in its presentation. And by the end of the issue the writing duo have clearly established the stakes for the players and what they'll need to contend with.

The artwork by Ghostwriter X has an appropriate level of nostalgia baked into it. The characters are illustrated with a loose style that feels appropriate for a time when Atari was one of (if not) the big players in the game console market. Ghostwriter X doesn't focus on detail at all, eschewing intricately drawn panels for something simpler and more relaxed. The panels are arranged very cleanly in a way that offers a scrapbook presentation of sorts and makes it easy to follow along. And the muted colors provide a further sense of nostalgia and reminiscence as the characters think back to their video game heyday of sorts.

SwordQuest #1 is a book that's pretty unapologetic about the straightforwardness of its aim. Peter is a man with a twinge of nostalgia tugging at him and is insistent on seeing that nostalgia through, even if it means pulling off a seemingly unbelievable crime caper. The writing duo of Bowers and Sims do a great job of presenting the reader with the stakes and everything they need to know about the seemingly zany quest about to unfold. And the illustrations by Ghostwriter X are simple and clean, further evoking that sense of childhood nostalgia. SwordQuest #1 will definitely appeal to fans of old-school video games and the camaraderie often associated with Friday night gatherings around the games.

SwordQuest #1 is available now.

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