Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Sword of Sorcery 8, originally released May 15th, 2013.
Taylor: It’s hard to believe, but we haven’t been able to buy Surge — that neon green, sugar-saturated soft drink — for thirteen years now. For whatever reason, I remember Surge being incredibly popular with my peers in primary school. The reasons for this really evade me at the moment. It wasn’t all that great or different from other soft drinks and it certainly didn’t offer any benefits aside from its taste. I don’t remember the ad campaign for Surge but I’m guessing that it must have had something to do with everyone’s fondness for the slimy soda. I seem to remember that everyone thought it was so chock-full of sugar it would drive a sane student nuts. If we wanted to stay up late or feel energized my friends and I would gulp down the snot-colored soda and pretend we instantly felt the effects. So that was Surge, and now it is gone. Even though I only liked it as a kid I still have fond memories of that stuff. Similarly, even though Sword of Sorcery is going the way of Surge and leaving shelves indefinitely, I’ll always look back on it with cheerful glee, glad that existed even for a short time.
Eclipso has returned to Nilaa and up to this point has met little resistance in his bid to take over all the great gem houses. He is at the gates of Amethyst when Mordiel prevents him from entering using what little powers she has at her disposal. Meanwhile, Amaya and her compatriots are planning their next move when Lady Akikra arrives with Prince Hardan to offer their support. The newly assembled team travels to House Amethyst to do battle with Eclipso and his followers and rid Gem World of him forever. There, Amaya hatches a plan to grab the Dark Crystal from Eclipso and nearly pulls it off before he nearly kills Amaya’s mother and Mordiel with a blast of energy. The once estranged sisters give their combined blood powers to Amaya who is then able to entrap Eclipso in the Dark Crystal. This, for the time being, saves Nilaa from Eclipso and sets up Amaya as its de facto ruler.
As swan songs go, I would have to rate this issue of Sword of Sorcery pretty high. It includes everything that made the series great and it satisfyingly ended its story while still managing to leave the door open for a reboot or even a tie-in in the near future.
Throughout our coverage of this series we’ve always lauded Christy Marx for writing a series that, while heavy on action, is deeply rooted in character development. In issue eight we get to see all of our favorite characters one last time before they are shelved and I for one am grateful for that opportunity. It reminds us of where the series started and the events that came between then and now. It’s simply a pleasure to see Preet (Aladdin till the end) and Elzere interact, due to what we know about them from past issues. What’s amazing is that Preet was only introduced in issues six and Elzere, who was present in the series throughout but had few lines, are characters we care about for some reason. I found myself worried for their safety, not because they were in any danger really, but because I simply would have been sad to see them leave the series. Additionally, it’s just fun to consider that all of these heroes of Nilaa kind of make up a Justice League Gem.
However, while these characters are enjoyable, the strength of Sword of Sorcery has always lain in the character of Amaya. In this issue we see her take hold of her destiny in both a metaphorical and literal sense. Faced with a crisis of unparalleled danger it seems as if everyone in Nilaa is at a loss for what to do aside from resisting Eclipso. It is only Amaya who has a plan to be put into action and it is her assertive work that ultimately defeats Eclipso. Simply put, without her Nilaa would be lost. It’s great to consider where this teenage girl came from and where she has ended up in the span of this series. Could any of us imagined her defeating Eclipso as she was in issue two? Certainly not. And it’s not as if Marx has compromised character development here in getting Amaya to this point. We’ve seen her grow steadily more confident and strong throughout this series so when she begins to lead her merry band in this issue it just feels right. Still, Marx realizes Amaya, nonetheless, is a teenager. I’ll miss lines like these where we are reminded that she hasn’t even graduated from high school.
Lastly, what will make me miss this series is the dynamics it created among its characters. It’s one thing to write strong characters, but it’s another thing entirely to have them interact in a meaningful way. Lady Mordial and Lady Glacial are sisters and they hate each other, for reasons we never find out. However, despite this animosity they reconcile their differences for the greater good. While this has the effect of helping Amaya defeat Eclipso, it also it touching to see such bitter rivals and sisters clasp hands once more.
This resonance that Sword of Sorcery creates is a hard thing to do, especially in a series that only lasts eight issues, but the creative team involved with this title pulls it off wondrously. And this is what I’ll miss most about this series – it made me feel something. Whether cheering during badass fight scenes or making fun of Preet for his Aladdiness, I’ve always been engaged by Sword of Sorcery on some level. For me personally, this has been one of the titles that has shown what a good comic book looks like and in great part is why I even care about them today. For that I will put it in my mind vault with Surge, to be tapped whenever I am feeling nostalgic for something that made me happy. About as happy as when I eat Doritos.
Shelby, how do you feel about the epic conclusion of Sword of Sorcery? Did it satisfy you? Do you think we’ll see any of these characters in the near future? Also, I didn’t mention the art at all, but it was pretty darn good. Any thoughts?
Shelby: I was actually a little disappointed in this issue, but please don’t throw your empty Surge cans at me. My disappointment doesn’t lie in the output of the creative team, but in the fact that they were forced to conclude their story as quickly as they did. The ending was too neat, too clean, too happy.
Mordiel and Graciel are actually alive! Eclipso was defeated…for now… We’ve got a shiny new team! Everyone is friends! This story was rushed due to its cancellation, and it definitely shows here. It’s really a shame that a book which started out so strong would be forced to sacrifice some of what made it so good merely to conclude the arc.
I actually didn’t really believe that a) Amaya would be the one to come up with the plan to save the day, and b) everyone would just go along with it. Her mother doesn’t hesitate to leave her daughter with members of Houses Onyx and Diamond, whom they have every reason to distrust, to face big, bad Eclipso. Amaya has grown quite a bit in her tenure in Nilaa, but she’s not that far removed from the girl we first met nine months ago; as badly as I want her to be the hero to save the day, I just don’t believe it. That being said, I would still call this a good title. Marx has, in this short time, become a writer whose name will make me pick up any book; if she’s had her hand in it, I’ll give it a look. Aaron Lopresti did a beautiful job on the art in this book, and colorist Hi-Fi brought those pencils to stunning, sparkling life. It is immensely frustrating to me that this title has to be sacrificed at the money altar. I can understand why it wasn’t a big money-maker for DC, and I understand that, creative product or no, DC is a business with a bottom line. That doesn’t stop me from being crabby this title has to fall victim to the idea that sometimes quality isn’t enought.
I highly doubt this is the last we’ll see of Amaya. She’s bound to show up in Justice League Dark or Constantine, though the latter seems like it might be a little dark for Princess Amethyst. I can always hope against hope that someday this book will be revived; until then, I’ll hoard this run like it’s the last can of Surge on Earth and treasure it for always.
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?