ART: Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan
Okay, I'll admit it: I was seriously not ready to like Sword of Sorcery. The name alone kept it at a proverbial arm's length for the months leading up to this
I stand (or sit and writing, in this case) corrected. While the cohesiveness of the 'New 52' universe is nice, it's refreshing to see a series so far removed from the main line of books, similar to Dial H and Resurrection Man. I know, I know - a certain someone shows up in the final panels to put a slight damper on that notion, but "Amethyst" is such a cult favorite that I assumed it would be a total bust trying to interpret it for a modern audience, in a more modern comic book universe. It would seem like it's actually the perfect time for something like this.
Christy Marx does an excellent job setting up Amy Winston in the opening pages of Sword of Sorcery #0. The "cool kids" chatter in the halls of a high school is a passable way to introduce readers to Amy and her current situation, but it's also a little sappy. It really gets interesting when Amy's mom takes her out in the evening for what seems to be battle training. Why is she training? Why is her mother so adamant about it? Why does this training interfere with regular life? Marx skillfully navigates this narrative, revealing only small bits of information at a time, and switching focus from Amy and her mother to the Queen of GemWorld, a planet (I'm assuming) that doesn't get much of an explanation - it stands to reason that a bit more will be revealed in issue one. In this regard, Marx has succeeded in truly writing a worthwhile "Issue Zero". She's given us readers enough information about the beginning of this tale to keep us interested, knowing that Sword of Sorcery #1 will start to answer some of the questions brought up in these pages.
Similarly, I was originally put off by the prospect of the "Beowulf" back-up story. Why, for goodness sake, do we need another Beowulf story? Hasn't this tale been done to death already in every medium imaginable? Again, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Tony Bedard's first chapter of this epic. And really, all that interest comes from the fact that Beowulf apparently exists in an advanced cryogenics chamber within an abandoned laboratory, while the world outside is seemingly dated somewhere in the Dark Ages. It's utterly fascinating. Seriously. All the Beowulf/Grendel stuff aside for now, the dichotomy of technology in a pre-pre-pre-industrial civilization is just so cool, I'm going to keep buying Sword of Sorcery if only for this back-up.