Review - The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic

"The name is Gideon, but I'm not a priest. The church calls me Warden."

It's well-known that there are things that go bump in the night. Finding someone to deal with those mysteries is sometimes a mystery in and of itself, but that doesn't stop people from taking up that mantle. The Warden in The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic is one such man. The issue is written by Steven Hudkins and illustrated by George Sellas.

The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic is set at the turn of the 20th century, in the years before the first World War. Scientific advances are shining a light across the world, but also casting deep shadows. It is a time of rapid industrialization, however deep rooted superstitions are still pervasive. No one knows the limits of technology or the ancient magics that are slowly being forgotten. The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic revolves around a man with a unique quality: every time he dies, he is reborn and his life starts over. Being a mortal man with an immortal soul, the Warden is one of the few who delves into darkness and prevent the shadows from engulfing the light.

The premise behind The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic certainly isn't new, but Hudkins seems to add his own twist to it. There are certainly elements of Hellboy and Constantine evident, yet the Warden seems to be a bit more reserved than either of those two main characters. It's not quite clear what's driving Warden to pursue evil, other than the notion that he's immortal. That fact isn't quite made clear in The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic though and because of that his reason for being where he is and facing who he's facing is a little fuzzy. The issue is also quite short, which makes the story feel a little hurried; it's clear Hudkins had an arc in mind and he rushes to get from A to B to C.

Very clean lines accent the black and white artwork. Sellas' characters each bear unique identifiers and have personality that shines through their appearance. Sellas has a good grasp on portraying the action in the seemingly sleepy town the Warden is currently visiting, using some interesting panels for framing said action. There's one particular series of panels that shows two men facing off with guns involved and the way Sellas draws the readers' attention to the relevant components is fascinating. Filling in the gutters with black helps the black and white style stand out even more, allowing Sellas to do some fun things with silhouettes here and thee as well.

The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic is infused with an old-world sensibility that gives the story an interesting feel. The premise is intriguing and it will be fun to see what superstitions/folklore the Warden contends with in future issues. Hudkins has a notion of where he wants things to go and hopefully future issues feel a little more fleshed out when it comes to character development and backstory. The artwork by Sellas is very concise and doesn't get bogged down by an enormity of detail. The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic is a quick read that's the start of a broader story that will be fun to follow along with.

The Warden Anthology: Swamp Magic is available now.