Thursday, 20 September 2012

New Beginnings: Sword Of Sorcery #0

This week we have a new revival of the short lived (five issue) 1973 comic Sword of Sorcery. With such a minimal run it has meant that the new comic as written by Christy Marx is essentially a blank slate from which to begin.

Christy comes from a background of animation having written scripts for classic kids TV programmes such as Gem and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a style which is quite evident in this comic as well. What we are given here is quite a generic teenage origin story, reintroducing a character first seen in the Eighties. Amethyst first appeared in a freebie bundled with Legion of Super Heroes, before moving onto several short lived titles of her own then resurfacing for Infinite Crisis a few years ago.
Amy Winston is an outcast no longer even trying to fit in. She’s moved from place to place through necessity and driven by a mother who is training her and pushing her for an unknown reason. All Amy has to hang onto is that she knows she will be allowed to see her home when she turns 17, and today is her birthday.

The story quickly then turns to a very pink land of Nilaa and there - cue matriarchal villain - we met Lady Mordiel, who instantly becomes obvious in her role. In the vein of King Herod she is on a quest to rid the land of all blonde girls and women who pose a threat to her. We discover why later.

After being taken “home” Amy is thrust into the beginnings of a civil war and one where she will play a significant part as well. She is in fact the niece of Lady Mordiel and the only one who can take her power.

Most frustratingly is that the title is Sword of Sorcery featuring Amethyst, yet the entire issue doesn’t even mention any sword or magic at all. But then it is a zero issue and it’s a plot setting backdrop for Amy.

As I said it’s all very 80’s Saturday morning cartoon and for me the most interesting thing was Constantine in the very last frame, collecting an intriguing and most likely useful crystal. As always, the man clearly has an agenda.

Completely aside from the main story there is also the addition of Tony Beddard’s reimagining of Beowulf. When I read the cover (and I will come on to this in a minute) I was settled by seeing his name on there and this little story was the only attractive feature for me.

The cover is drawn by Josh Middleton and frankly it put me off. I think that the moment I saw the cover whilst at Proud Lion the first thought that came to mind was, “DC have done Bunty!” - which isn’t an attractive look to me.

The artwork inside the comic is by Aaron Lopresti, who has a prestigious portfolio with both Marvel and DC. I have to admit that I didn’t think it was bad, but it somehow felt dragged down by a fairly basic storyline. The colouring is bright to the point of being garish rather than vibrant, and it sadly overpowers Lopresti's pencils.

Whilst it is good to see DC continuing to try new ideas with the New 52, this title falls short of the mark  and is likely to struggle to find an audience even within it's target demographic. Without wishing to sound sexist or stereotypically male, the format and portrayal of Amethyst and the land of Nilaa really made me think that this was aimed at an incredibly niche market of comic-loving, pre-teen girls.

By all means if you have a daughter or niece who loves a little adventure then go for it, but as a mainstream title I can’t see it lasting much longer than the original miniseries back in the Eighties. This is the New 52's Mr Terrific for girls.

Matt Puddy is looking forward to next week's Talon debut issue. It's got to be better than this!

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