Xena: Warrior Princess #3
Meredith Finch (Writer), Vicente Cifuentes (Artist), Triona Farrell (Colorist), Cardinal Ray (Letterer)
April 18, 2018
I have been surprised by just how much I’ve been enjoying Dynamite’s new Xena title. Written by Meredith Finch, and drawn charmingly by Vicente Cifuentes, it’s undoubtedly colourist Triona Farrell’s book, and since the first issue I’ve been blown away by the power, ingenuity and vibrancy of her work, which doesn’t change in this third issue. Farrell is a force to be reckoned with as Gabrielle and Xena reunite, and the tables are turned as it’s Gabi who saves the titular Warrior Princess as they face down the Roman guard.
The story so far has been relatively interior, focusing on Xena and Gabrielle’s burgeoning friendship, though the second issue hinted at the bigger story to come, with a boat of stolen women, a dream that gave us an insight into Xena’s past, and an evil foe named Callisto. This third installment builds on what we’ve learnt as the Roman guard hunt down Xena for her past as a deadly warlord, which was revealed in a dream. We’re not sure whether this is fact, fiction, or some kind of magic. But whatever it is, it’s not looking good for our two galavanting gals.
Cifuentes’ art is fun and fresh with a lot of personality, which is just what this book needs. It’s a historical fantasy comic that avoids the staleness we’ve come to expect from this genre and Dynamite themselves. It’s also nice that they bothered to get women on this book, not least because as I’ve already said Farrell is a gem and is easily one of the best colourists that Dynamite has at its disposal–alongside another fantastic woman, Valentina Pinto. Finch writes a good solid base for the artistic team to build on and they end up creating something really rather special. I think this’ll be a great first comic or entry point to the medium for new readers because at its best Xena is a great exercise in accessible yet technically impressive visual storytelling.
I’ll be interested to see where this story goes, though there is one factor that consistently bothers me about this series which is the lack of a romantic relationship between Gabrielle and Xena. The original series subtly implied that two were together, and the recently scrapped reboot was going to confirm and center the pair’s romance. Yet the comic has yet to even hint at anything but a burgeoning friendship between the pair. It’s early days, but this issue made a point of adding in a moment where Gabrielle hits on a man whilst running through the city, which, unless they’re about to embrace her as a bisexual icon, appears to be Finch letting us know that we’re not going to get the gay Xena book we deserve.
All in all this is an enjoyable issue which hints at a much larger and more dynamic upcoming arc, and I love getting to see Farrell’s colors. I’m stoked to see her getting more work and can’t wait to see what she does next.