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NTF Comic Book Review: Sword of Sorcery #1.

Caliburn24 here with two issues of swords and sorcery.

Zero Month introduced the Third Wave of the New 52. A title that is making its return is an update of the DC series from 1973, Sword of Sorcery which featured Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser. The new title features an anthology of fantasy characters from DC’s stable including the character of Amethyst soon-to-be Princess of Gemworld. The character of Amethyst started in Legion of Super-heroes #298 in 1983. She was created by writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn and also artist Ernie Colon. Amethyst moved to her own title Amethyst Princess of Gemworld which lasted for twelve issues. She showed up in the DCU in the Infinite Crisis limited series and also the Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special in 2006. Beowulf who co-stars in the title first appeared in Beowulf: Dragon Slayer #1 in 1975. He was created by Michael Uslan and artist Ricardo Villamonte. He re-appeared in the DCU in Wonder Woman #20 in 2008.

Christy Marx is a writer for computer games, comic books like The Sisterhood of Steel for Epic Comics, veteran television writer of cartoons including G.I. Joe, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and she was the head writer for Jem and the Holograms. Marx has another jewel on her hands with Amethyst, ha! Aaron Lopresti is an artist who has worked for Marvel and DC from X-Men to Wonder Woman. The cover for Sword of Sorcery #0 has Amethyst bursting out of page 23 of the comic. Amy Winston is walking into the hall of her high school as the students are gossiping about her. There is a great contrast of Amy walking from the outside sunshine surrounded by the colorful outfitted students, but she has the dark dress of a Goth. Amy has dark hair streaked with blue and purple. She heads over to the locker of mousy student Beryl who is being asked on a date by football jock Tyler. Beryl has an unusual name which refers to a colorless crystal for gems.

Amy introduces herself and befriends Beryl who interrupts her to point out Amy’s necklace. She says that it is made of amethysts which are her birthstone and also turquoise. Beryl invites Amy to the homecoming game that night and runs off. At a diner, Amy’s mother, Gracie is finishing her shift as a waitress. She is excited at Amy’s birthday where she says, “Everything changes at seventeen.” At night, at the family’s motor home, Gracie tries to celebrate Amy’s birthday. She goes to a closet to get gear for their practice duel; helmets, shields, and swords. Gracie strikes Amy’s helmet and senses that she is pre-occupied with something. Amy throws away her gear and runs off to do something normal. The next page is a full page spread showing the fantastic Gemworld. This is the land of Nilaa which has a sparkling purple tower that is the seat of House Amethyst. The issue’s title is introduced, “Homecoming” which is part of the Amethyst: Catalyst storyline.

Lady Mordiel is told that another child is brought to her. This is a blond haired girl who is placed under a giant amethyst crystal. Mordiel says her blond hair is the mark of the Amethyst bloodline. The light of the crystal vaporizes the girl and her essence is taken in by Mordiel. Back on Earth, the game has finished and there is only the empty football stadium. Beryl meets Tyler who has brought along two other guys. They grab hold of Beryl when they are interrupted by Amy. The two guys start after her, but she is able to take down all of them including a kick to Tyler in a place no guy should be kicked. Amy calls her mother about the incident. Amy is back at the motor home and her mother decides that they will have to go back to their real home. They leave by the light of the blue moon. As they climb a hill, Gracie explains to her daughter that they have been training to prepare her for her sister who wants to kill them both.

On Gemworld, Mordiel has General Sakil ready the hunter packs since she suspects her sister will return. Back on Earth, overlooking a forest, Gracie takes out her portal crystal not really a portkey and they leap through the portal to become blond haired warrior women. It leads to a one page spread of warriors bowing to the two women at a site of ruins. Gracie explains to her daughter that the armor is formed from turquoise that was in her necklace. Gracie turns to put up a magical shield that blocks several arrows and then goes to fight several soldiers. She has ordered guards to take away Amy, but she slips out to grab and sword and join her mother in battle. Back on Earth, John Constantine looked at the portal crystal and puts it in his jacket pocket. The next part is the first chapter of Beowulf, “The Perfect Soldier” by Tony Bedard and Jesus Saiz. The text says, “Years from now” as the setting and that is Geatland which is a part of Sweden. The narration is from a boy who says that Danelaw has made him a man. He rides with others dressed as Viking though he wears a modified modern era helmet.

They ride into a restricted area and are sent by King Hrothgar to find the perfect soldier. The soldiers find a dome with a tree growing at its top. Inside is a capsule, very Captain America, that opens, and while the soldier call for peace, Beowulf bursts out in a full page spread swinging his sword. The soldiers are slaughtered by Beowulf leaving only the boy. The boy thanks Beowulf which stays his sword. The boy explains about the message from King Hrothgar, a general to find the perfect soldier. The two are riding as the boy explains the story spread over two pages. King Hrothgar celebrates at his hall which brings the creature Grendel, shown in shadows and an extreme close-up of his eyes. It ends with a full page showing the dead bodies splattering the snow with blood as ravens circle the corpses. Yes!, two reviews in one. Sword of Sorcery #1 has a cover with Amethyst leaping with her sword over fallen bodies of trolls and goblins. The next chapter is “The Blood of Amethyst” by Marx and Lopresti. Issue #2 opens with a full page of Gracie holding off a warrior’s ax with her magical shield while Amy watches the battle. Amy is attacked by a cat-like beast and cuts its tail. The cat leaps on her, but is killed by an arrow.

Amy is saved by an archer and protects her by blocking a warrior’s sword stroke. She cuts his throat with her sword and is horrified by his death. The battle goes on and Gracie is angry at her daughter staying to fight. Another full page has Mordiel lifting up an amethyst crystal. General Sakil reports to Mordiel and she asks for her armor to go find her sister. Back at the ruins, Gracie calls on the Blood of Amethyst and is charged up with purple energy. She uses this in another full page to strike down all of the warriors. Amy’s mother collapses from using so much energy. They get into an argument and the archer who helped Amy, Ingvie, gives her a crystal, the Citrine-of-Tongues that helps her understand the Gemworld languages. Ingvie tells Gracie that they must leave the bodies behind to escape. Mordiel’s troops reach the ruins through a portal. The scene shifts to a full page of the Citadel of Lord Reishan from House Diamond. Young Talzanar is practicing archery and scolded by his brother, Hadran, for trying to collect the arrows he used and not let the servants retrieve them. The bearded brother, Zushan, cuts Hadran’s bowstring and they are interrupted by Lord Reishan who explains the situation with House Amethyst.

As they walk through a forest, Ingvie explains to Gracie what has happened with House Citrine. The power is now in her mother’s hands and Ingive wants the line to continue with her brother since she wants to become an archer. Mordiel has reached the Citrine ruins and orders the bodies to be buried. Ingvie has the group use a portal crystal to escape and later Mordiel sees a message crystal. She calls off the search and returns to her tower. She plays the message crystal which has Gracie telling of her return with her daughter Amaya. The next chapter of Beowulf is “Iron Trolls.” Beowulf and the messenger boy, Wiglaf, are at a tavern. He is threatened by several men and slices through them with his sword. Wiglaf pleads with Beowulf to stop and he turns on the boy who apologizes for trying to give orders to him.

They ride off and reach Iron Troll country. The duo sneak up to some ruins. The Iron Trolls are two robots that Beowulf scans as Waynetech units. An interesting tie-in to the DCU. He attacks the robots armed with machine guns and rockets by having them attack and destroy each other. They reach the hall of King Hrothgar and Beowulf is challenged by Unferth, but he is backed down by Hrothgar. Beowulf asks about Grendel at a feast. He sees the lack of defenses and calls for his men to help Beowulf set up the hall’s protection. Beowulf sets the guards outside and says they should sound the alarm at the cost of their lives. Wiglaf is on the top floor with a candle. He sees a broken window and something blows out the candle. The next page has Grendel looming over Wiglaf with his jaw open spewing tentacles in Predator fashion. Both stories have interesting takes on fantasy with some fantastic art.