Friday, June 8, 2018

Review - Sword Daughter #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


"I'm okay with being alone."

If history has taught us anything, it's that things have always been tough. There are different reasons why, but more often than not there's usually an aggressor making life difficult for the peaceful. In Sword Daughter #1 from Dark Horse Comics, the line between aggressor and peaceful is a little blurry. The issue is written by Brian Wood, illustrated by Mack Chater, colored by José Villarrubia and lettered by Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT.

The Forty Swords came at night and murdered the entire village, save for two people: the infant Elsbeth and her grief-stricken father, Dag. Setting off on a revenge quest that will span the width of Viking Age Europe, they find the key to repairing their damaged relationship lies in the swords they carry.

Wood's approach in Sword Daughter #1 is less with more and there's certainly a lot to drink in with the issue. Wood chose to funnel the narrative through the eyes of two characters--Elsbeth Dagsdottir and her father, using their dynamic as a means of imbuing the book with emotion. That dynamic is very powerful, primarily because Wood has each of them deal with their losses in very distinct ways. Elsbeth is vicious and savage, resorting to silence and action in response to inquiry, while her father seems a bit more even-keeled. Wood also evokes feelings similar to that of Lone Wolf and Cub throughout the issue, pitting the daughter-father duo against a large group of marauders.

Chater does a phenomenal job making the land the characters inhabit feel desolate and undiscovered. There are quite a few panels of just sweeping vistas that are gorgeous in their simplicity and adds a bit more gravity to the few settlements that dot said landscape. The faces of the characters are drawn with a weariness to them indicative of the extremely harsh times they're living in. And the way Chater illustrates the Forty Swords is pretty terrifying, with a massive, two-page spread showing them essentially waiting to kill again. Villarrubia's colors are stark and pale, lending more credibility to the foreboding and stifling atmosphere.

Sword Daughter #1 is a marvelous first issue that knows what it wants to do and does it. Elsbeth and her father Dag are on a mission to avenge the loss of their loved ones, but neither the quest nor the battle will be easy. Wood's script is near flawless and shows a devotion to crafting a tale rooted in history. Chater's illustrations are rife with pain and struggling, as evidenced by the use of sharp lines throughout. Sword Daughter #1 is a great book that deserves your attention.

Sword Daughter #1 is available now.

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