Review - Sparrowhawk #1 (@boomstudios)

"You be careful, too. Nothing feels safe anymore."

The past is rife with stories of loved ones passing away too soon and others in the family having to step up to take over their responsibilities. That elevated position didn't always come voluntarily and in Sparrowhawk #1 from BOOM! Studios, it brings with it a lot of mythical baggage. The issue is written by Delilah S. Dawson, illustrated by Matias Basla and lettered by Jim Campbell.

As the illegitimate daughter of a Naval Captain, Artemisia has never fit in with her father's family, nor the high class world to which they belong. However, when she is targeted by the Faerie Queen and pulled into another realm, she has no choice but to try and save the world that has always hated her.

There are certainly a lot of themes that Dawson incorporates into Sparrowhawk #1, the most prevalent being finding one's place in a world that you either don't understand or doesn't understand you. Dawson spends the majority of the issue introducing the reader to Artemisia as a character who always been viewed as an outsider by just about everyone but her father until she's needed to save the family. The dynamics between Artemisia and her mother in particular are tumultuous as in that Artemis doesn't appreciate being used by a selfish mother. About 3/4 of the way into the book Dawson offers a seemingly dramatic turn that becomes the true meat of the story, flinging Artemisia into a magical world where she must fight to escape (and survive). This is where Dawson truly allows Artemisia's character to shine, showing the reader that she's a fierce personality who's not content with sitting idly by.

The art style is one that feels messy and incomplete at times, although Basla manages to make it work very well for the story. Basla relies almost entirely on distant shots that keep the panels relatively light on detail, offering really just the shapes of characters with a few minor points emphasized. Basla illustrates both reality and Faerie quite similar (save for some color differences) and that helps keep the story feeling unified. There are some pages where the action feels very frenetic and the lack of detail is a little jarring visually, but somehow Basla makes it work (even if you can't entirely tell what's going on). And Basla inverts the gutters, blackening them for reality and emptying them while in Faerie; this achieves pretty dramatic effects for both portions of the story.

Sparrowhawk #1 is a strange first issue that definitely knows what it wants to do and is looking to find a way to demonstrate that to the reader. Artemisia is a firecracker who won't sit idly by, but whether or not she can do the entirety of what's necessary to escape Faerie remains to be seen. Dawson's script is fast-moving and easy, presenting a thorough characterization of Artemisia and getting to the heart of the matter relatively quickly. Basla's illustrations are a little loose, but they work very well considering the tone of the book. Sparrowhawk #1 is a very good first issue with a strong protagonist that will be a fun read as it unfolds.

Sparrowhawk #1 is available now.