Sword of Sorcery 0

Today, Shelby and (guest writer) Selene Gill are discussing Sword of Sorcery 0, originally released September 19, 2012. Sword of Sorcery 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

Shelby: We take comic books pretty seriously here at Retcon Punch. We firmly believe in applying our liberal arts educations to the medium and offering up intelligent and thought-provoking discourse. We recognize that comic books are both a form of literature AND art, and we want to do everything in our power to take that critical eye we honed in Freshman Studies and apply it to the issues in front of us. But, we also know that there is nothing wrong with reading something that’s a fun bit of fluff; sometimes you just want to be entertained. It’s only the first issue, but I suspect that Sword of Sorcery might turn out to be that fluffy bit of nothing, and I think I like it.

There are actually 2 stories at play; the bulk of the issue is devoted to Amethyst. The issue starts with Amy, the rebellious 16-year-old who follows the beat of a different drum and doesn’t try to be one of the cool kids. You can tell because she wears a leather jacket and has different colored streaks in her hair. Her mom, Grace, has moved her around a lot, and also trained her in hand-to-hand combat with a sword and shield. But it’s Amy’s 17th birthday, and her mom tells her that the moment she turns 17, they’ll go home. It’s not nearly as basic as it sounds, however; Grace is actually Graciel, sister to Mordiel, who rules over the Amethyst house in the land of Nilaa. Mordriel wants all the power of Amethyst to herself, so she’s been finding decendents, killing them, and absorbing their powers. They play by Highlander rules in Nilaa. Amy and her mother jump through a portal to Nilaa, where they are immediately ambushed. The two of them rush into battle with Mordriel’s hunters. The accompanying backup story is Beowulf, which I’ll get to in a second.

What a fun little read! I don’t know anything about Gemworld, but that’s ok; this issue serves its purpose well as an origin story. It’s a simple premise; a member of the royal family flees to save her daughter, and will return when her daughter is old enough to fight the good fight at her side. Christy Marx has given us a really easy jumping-in point, as well as set us up with some tantalizing questions for later. What was it that drove Graciel from Nilaa? How exactly does this whole Gemworld-thing work, anyway? What about that girl Amy met at school? With a name like Beryl, she’s got to have a more important purpose to serve. The best, though, is Aaron Lopresti’s drawing of Amethyst. If this isn’t some candy-coated dream from my childhood, I don’t know what is.

Nostalgia is a big factor for me with this title. I was a huge fan of She-Ra, Princess of Power growing up, and that page of the Amethyst Throne immediately takes me back to my days of Saturday morning cartoons. One problem I do foresee: telling the characters apart. Everyone wears purple, and all the members of the royal family are blonde. It’s going to be tough to keep track of who’s who.

After you’ve had your dessert with the story of Amethyst, it’s on to some more serious stuff with Beowulf. Nothing new here, story-wise: a group of men and a young boy set out to find the legendary warrior Beowulf. When they do find him, he slays most everyone in the party. The young boy, Wiglaf, convinces Beowulf to come with them to kill the monster Grendel. What I think is super interesting about this title is it’s set in the future, in some sort of dystopian, post-apocalyptic situation where we’ve resorted to our natural Viking ways. Jesus Saiz captures it perfectly as the men approach Beowulf’s lair (bunker).

Awesome. The story of Beowulf is a fun read anyway, but to have it set in some unknown future? I can’t wait to see how this is going to play out.

This book is a lot of fun, I’m looking forward to reading the next issue. We’ve got magic, action, nostalgia, and an Old English epic poem; it’s basically everything I look for in a comic book. What about you, Selene? Were you already familiar with Amethyst and Gemworld? Did you have as much fun reading this title as I did?

Selene: Hey Shelby. I had no knowledge of Amethyst or Gemworld prior to this comic.  This story definitely has potential to be super fun and a possible intro for young teen readers to get into more adult stories. It has all things I love in the “I hate to admit I watch shows from the CW” realm and possibly a little more. I sure do hope they put the main focus on the family and not just Amy and her new set of angsty troubles she’ll have at Sky High.  This feels to me like a Wonder Woman-esque story but for a younger crowd. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it and will definitely read the next issue but not just because this book will stand for everything girly in me (so many colors…I love it!) but because Lopresti’s art is great and Marx has a natural flow to the way she writes that I find is lacking in more books today than not.

That said I want to talk Beowulf.  This is my kind of story. I love all things that come underlined in a sword. I also have an addiction to post apocalyptic war stories. Possible sword on laser action? I am so frackin’ in!  This guy, Beowulf, you can already tell he’s off his rocker and poor little Wiglaf has to save the day. But not to worry, he’s sneaky and tricksy and he smeagles his way out of what I hope will not be his last jam. This is a definite read for me. Writer Tony Bedard and artist Jesus Saiz compliment each other so well in this story. Never once was I thinking one was stronger than the other, it was all about what was happening. I was totally sucked in and was sad it wasn’t longer. Plus the last page is laid out in a way that allowed me to grasp the gravity of the power of what I can only suspect is a supped-up future man with computer chips in his back and holes in his chest where tubes go. I was like “ Aw man Beowulf killed four guys like that and oh wait…that’s one guy torn in two in two different spots and where’s that other guy’s head.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

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35 comments on “Sword of Sorcery 0

  1. I was so stoked to see Constantine at the end of the Amethyst story! Firstly, it’s a way to tie this crazy fantasy title to the rest of the DC universe. Second, I have a huge crush on him, you all know this.

    • I was already on board with this story before Constantine showed up but his surprise cameo did a lot to ensure that this book remains on the top of my reading list. Like you Shelby, I thought this book was a lot of fun and found myself giggling with joy throughout it’s pages. I love that this book has a female lead and I really hope it catches fire.

      As for Beowulf, other than the fact that he has a sword, I’m not quite sure why it’s in a book called “Sword of Sorcery” but I really don’t care. It was another great read by Bedard. I do wonder if it’s tied into the DCU (or even Amethyst) though since it’s featured in a DCU book, but if it’s just a sci-fi retelling of Beowulf written by one of my favorite writers then I’d be okay with that too!

    • It’s a great cameo. He’s just out for a walk, finds this gem, and pockets it. Anyone might pick up and take home a shiny rock, but the fact that it’s Constantine makes it clear that he probably knows what that thing is. Really, I would love to have that guy show up in every comic, ever.

    • The solicitation from a month or two ago show that Amethyst will be crossing over into Justice League Dark in coming issues so this is the seed for that – I know you also get that book so that should be a nice bit of synchronicity for you if you like this one. I’m right there with you. I love Aaron Lopresti’s art and the coloring here means it has never looked better, and the story – although light fare – plays to my fanboy pleasure centers. I’m down for more

  2. So that Amethyst story gets really dark for a minute, right? It’s not like Amy rescued Berry from some bullying or whatever – those dudes were going to rape her. And then Berry lashes out against her protector. That’s all very dark, very real teenage stuff. Which makes the transition into the candy-coated Gemworld all the more starling. I hope Christy Marx continues to find a way to juxtapose real-world grisliness with hypercolored high-adventure.

    • I’ve seen a lot of grumbling over the attempted rape scene, but I’m not sure I understand why. Sure, it makes what might otherwise be a kid-friendly title pretty dark, but we’re already dealing with a genociding villain who nobody seems to be complaining about. I thought that scene set up Amy’s heroism in a much realer way than some anonymous mugging would have.

      • I didn’t think it was really *that* dark. I’m perhaps just hardened as I love 70′s vigilate films, revenge films, and horror films… so I’m used to something terrible happening and THEN the revenge. Here it’s like, they try to do something awful, but get as erious ass whupping instead. So, except for the brief moment that you realize what they’re trying to do, it’s kind of all gratification. I thought the Spoiler story that tackled sexual abuse, for instance, was much darker

        • I’m not decrying it at all – in fact, I think it’s largely what makes the pastel Gemworld go down so smoothly. I know there’s genocide and murder and terrible shit in Gemworld too, but right now it just looks like Arthurian legend through the Friendship is Magic prism. I would not like to see the “real world” disappear from this series – at least, not yet.

  3. Oh and I saw this pointed out elsewhere, I can’t take credit personally, but *just look* at the fight coreography when she smashes up those rapists – it’s all believable action of how a girl her size could conceivably take those dudes down. She uses the palm instead of punching that guy in the face (which would probably break her hand), she uses her elbow, kicks the crotch… she’s using her leverage as well as the hardest bones at her disposal to universally attack weak spots on the jocks. A nice touch

    • Attention to size goes a long way. A friend of mine commented that she liked that Wonder Woman and the Amazonians were all sorta stocky, muscular creatures in the current run: that way it makes sense when they pack a punch. Too often you see female character with dancer’s bodies applying brute force and getting away with it… which just doesn’t add up. Either bulk up the characters (a la WW) or make them fight realistically, as you point out here. Very cool observation.

      • A great illustration of this concept is the difference between Chiang’s Diana in Wonder Woman and Lee’s Diana in Justice League. When I asked Chiang about this at the Boston Comic Con, he said that it was really about suiting the material. If he was drawing porn, he’d draw her differently, which kind of makes you wonder what Lee thinks Justice League is.

    • I TOTALLY did. He looks just like Slade Wilson, but with plugs and things. He’s even missing an eye! I think it would be kind of neat if someone put Slade in stasis for some unforeseen future.

  4. Pingback: Sword of Sorcery Reaction and Amethyst News Roundup « TangognaT

  5. I’ve read a lot of enthusiastic reviews about Sword of Sorcery, so maybe the Internet will help this C-list title to sell like a B-list one, as it happened last year with Animal Man. I strongly believe that the Internet has the power to radically change the fate of the series the bloggers and commenters talk about – basically, this is the main reason why I comment: I want to help the series whose sales are lower than they deserve.

    • That’s good to hear, because I’ve been both bummed out and CONFUSED by the negative reviews of this title. Large chunks of the internet are freaking out by the attempted rape scene, calling it a sensationalist ploy to make a candy-colored title more “edgy” in order to sell. None of us understand where that’s coming from, so it’s nice to read comments from so many not-terrible people.

      • You’re right. In the very first days after its release everybody was recommending this series, but afterwards some bloggers heavily focused on the attempted rape scene, writing all the criticisms you mentioned, and this totally reversed the positive hype around this title. Now it’s impossible to predict how much Sword of Sorcery is going to like and sell in the next months.

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