Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Sword of Sorcery 6, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Taylor: Throughout Sword of Sorcery’s short run, writer Christy Marx has proven again and again her ability to create compelling characters. Amaya, teen princess of Amethyst, is compelling because she is just do darn believable. Even though she was thrust into an alternate dimension, Amaya still embodies what it means to be a teenager – she has crushes on boys, loves pizza and argues with her mom. Alternatively, Marx fleshes out the antagonists of the series as well. Mordiel, despite all of her frosty bitchiness, is all too human. She questions her actions, appears to love her sister and niece, and feels a sense of unearned entitlement. With such strong and rounded characters as these it’s no wonder that Sword of Sorcery has come to enchant those who have been willing to give it a fair shake. However, with the news of its imminent demise, would the characters — both old and new — remain outstanding? Issue six has us asking this question among many others.
Having had a near escape from death, Graciel seems intent on teaching Amaya all of the magical powers that she will need to rule Amethyst. After a session of magical training, Amaya goes down to the vault to replace a gemstone when she runs into a disguised Preet who is attempting to steel some turquoise to power his new-found abilities. Amaya recognizes that he must be the recipient of the power from house turquoise following the death of Lord Firojha. Reluctantly, Preet agrees to hear Amaya and her mother out on why he should become the next Lord of Turquoise when suddenly a portal crystal opens up in their room. Eclipso, with the help (I guess you could call it that) of Constantine has arrived in Gemworld to retake control of the world that had banished him to Earth.
Everybody, meet Preet. He’s a fascinating character to throw into this title for the reason that he is almost the complete opposite of every character we have been introduced to so far in this series. Most everyone we know in Sword of Sorcery is somehow caught up in the politics of Gemworld, and if they aren’t royalty then they are at least directly aligned with one of the ruling gem houses. Preet, on the other hand, is unaffiliated with any of these houses, is indebted to no one, and also happens to be somewhat of a rogue -a rarity among this series’ cast. This type of character is a breath of fresh air in a title that despite its strong characterization has dealt with a narrow band of Gemworld society. And yet…
For all of his qualities Preet is a pretty simple character and one we have seen before. I can’t help but draw the similarities between Preet and everyone’s favorite 1990s prince, Aladdin. Preet is a street rat who steals for his well being and who has an animal sidekick (that the sidekick is a cat instead of a monkey makes me so happy). Further, despite his poor upbringing, it seems that this street rat is destined to become a prince and will also get the princess (his prize to be won).
I’m not sure if Marx meant to craft Preet’s character after Aladdin – and to be honest I could really care less if she did copy his story word for word. The reason I don’t care is that I like it. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic or maybe I just like the familiar, but I’m really enchanted by the possible Aladdin-esque storyline that surrounds Preet. He’s charming, seems of good heart, and has that certain Han Solo quality to him that no one can resist. Further, he seems like a good foil to Amaya and I think his levelheadedness could prove of worth in the ensuing battles with Eclipso.
Speaking of which, what are we to make of him? Part of me wishes that Retcon Punch had kept on with reading Team 7 so we would have a better idea of who this cat is. But then I remember how stupid that title was and I have second thoughts. Despite that, Eclipso, from what little we have seen of him so far, seems like a good fit for this series. Not only does he wield magic like a boss but he shares a similar life story with that of Amaya’s. Both were sequestered to Earth to keep them away from Gemworld, albeit for very different reasons. Both gain a large amount of power, literally and metaphorically, when they return to Gemworld. And both would seem to have an ambition to rule Gemworld. All of these similarities should make for a pretty entertaining antagonist to finish out this series since he is basically a negative image of Amaya. Additionally, I hope Eclipso’s supreme evilness, as rendered wonderfully by Aaron Lopresti, forces all of the women of Amethyst to put aside their differences and kick some serious evil blue ass.
Also hey, Constantine makes an appearance in this issue! Big surprise here is that he acts like a jerk the entire time. Oh wait, that’s what he’s known for, never mind. Usually I’m a fan of Constantine being a jerk, and my reasons for that are closely aligned with what Shelby had to say about him in her review of Constantine 1. However, in this issue of Sword of Sorcery Constantine is being a dick for apparently no other reason than to thrust his problems onto somebody else. While this isn’t surprising in any huge way, it seems a bit too shallow, even for Constantine. His justifications for his actions in this instance just don’t ring true to me, which certainly seems like a missed opportunity for character development. However, seeing him use the Magical Spy Mirror like a glorified iPad while holding a crystal that looks like a purple dildo is pretty entertaining.
Hello Patrick! I’m curious to see what you think of Aladdin, er, Preet. Do you dig his rags to riches story or does it seem a bit tired? Do you think Eclipso is a good fit for this series? And what about Mordiel, do you think she’ll come back into play before this series is unjustly cancelled?
Patrick: Eclipso does seem like an interesting dude, and the simplicity of his implied origin story is baller. Lord of Onyx banned from Gemworld because he was fucking too much shit up? Perfect – let’s not hear another word about who he is or where he comes from. I also love his frustration at not being immediately recognized and feared upon his return to Nilaa. Sure, everyone’s like “wait are those Onyx tats?” but the should be recoiling in terror. He’s been in Gemworld for all of six pages, and he’s already murdered someone with blood powers. That’s a guy who’s not screwing around.
I see this as a fun little parallel to the meta-story of Amethyst. The original series has a slavish following, that’s still alarmingly active today. Whether that’s just what happens with children’s entertainment properties from the 1980s or whether Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld was actually something special is the topic of another conversation, but the point remains: Amaya’s return to comics should have been an unstoppable juggernaut. But it wasn’t. While the initial issue garnered a ton of ridiculous attention for the attempted gang-rape scene, Sword of Sorcery kinda slipped away as a point of conversation among comic readers. The comic — much like Eclipso — was back, but nobody seemed to care.
I also like that maybe the infallible memory of the Citrine could be a reference to the un-dying collective memory of the original series, which also hung over Marx’ series.
Ooo! There’s another fun meta-connection to make here! Eclipso, as Taylor points out, is functioning as the Big Bad in Team 7. That’s another series that’s meeting its demise in a couple months, and while I haven’t been keeping up on it, I’m guessing series writer Justin Jordan is not going to have ample opportunity to have his small band of egotistical maniacs deal with Eclipso on their own. Banishing the dude back to Gemworld is a quick editorial fix, just as it’s a quick and dirty fix for John Constantine. Taylor, if you thought JC’s motivations were arbitrary, wait until you get a load of Dan DiDio’s.
Which is to say that I don’t hold that supremely dickish move against Constantine. He’s a scoundrel – I like scoundrels.
Getting to your other question – about Preet. Yeah, I like the kid. Partially, that’s because I like shapeshifters and the sort of narrative gymnastics they allow for. It’s also thematically rich to give that power to someone who has lived their entire life and the streets only to suddenly find themselves inheritor of mind blowing wealth and superpowers.
Taylor didn’t mention the Stalker back-up, and that’s totally fine. It’s not terrifically stupid as it was last month, but it still meanders kinda pointlessly. Stalker leaves the mother of the baby he’s just rescued from her womb to die at the hands of the Devil, and then he uses some magic to just portal himself out of there. He makes a couple extra portals — perhaps for decoys? It’s not clear. But, you’re trying to tell me he couldn’t have thrown one of those mortals under the mother and saved her too? Anyway, the story is not great and the art pales in comparison both to the Amethyst story that came before it and the Beowulf story it replaced. Though, if you’re hurting for a little Jesus-Saiz-drawing-crazy-DC-hero-stuff, might I recommend this month’s Justice League?
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 Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?