Sword of Ages #4
Gabriel Rodriguez (Writer and Artist), Lovern Kindzierski (Colours), Robbie Robbins (Letters)
30 May 2018
Boss Ourgon stands on the edge of victory. He has defeated his arch rival, the benevolent and powerful White Monk ruler Lord Huss, as well as Huss’ son, Calen. But, before Ourgon can take control of Caledia and its precious star crystal, the Black Star Templars join the fray, accompanied by three magical monsters who make short work of both Ourgon’s Red Clan and the White Monks.
Amidst the chaos, fearless warrior Avalon, student of Merlin of the White Monks and friend to the fallen Lord Huss and Calen, attempts to protect the citadel of Caledia. If only the sacred sword bequeathed to her by the Lady of the Lake wasn’t stuck in its sheath! Avalon manages to fight off the hordes without the sword, but the three monsters running amok are a different matter. They must be taken down with something stronger than a mortal weapon. Can Avalon and her companions, Gawyn, Lancer and Trystan, protect the people of Caledia? Or will they join Lord Huss and Calen in the dirt?
This action-heavy issue is a feast for the eyes. The series has been building up to this moment with the entire cast of characters meeting in an epic, bloody battle and it delivers in spades. There is so much happening here that it will take a moment for the reader to absorb all the details, but that only means basking in the glory of each colourful page a little bit longer.
The art is the hero here, even more so than protagonist Avalon. Writer and artist Gabriel Rodriguez has consistently delivered beautiful scenes in this series, but he has surpassed himself with this issue. Page after page of vast panoramas of the battle of Caledia, each panel packed with detail, make for an engrossing reading experience. What is also impressive is Rodriguez’s employment of depth of field on the page. The action in the foreground may catch your eye, but there is also plenty in the background to develop the story.
Colourist Lovern Kindzierski’s full range of colours is spectacular to behold. With so many characters, alien and human, and their armies, plus the monsters, all in play against a setting sun, Kindzierski has free reign to adopt a wild colour palette on practically each panel. He does so with aplomb, bringing Rodriguez’s detailed inks to glorious technicolour life. Kindzierski’s colour work makes the battle a real, living thing, and one can’t help but feel the swords slice through air and grimace at the splash of blood from a soldier’s wound.
Hard as it is to go beyond the beautiful art, there is one other aspect that thrilled me: the number of female characters. Whereas the first three issues sporadically featured female characters—barring Avalon, of course—we seldom saw them interact. The various groups have been pretty much on the move till now and, whenever we dropped in on them, the female characters were isolated from each other, surrounded by male members from their teams.
Now, with all the groups in one geographical location, there are plenty of opportunities for team-ups and character development. We get to see the primary female cast—Avalon, the White Monk Priestess Lady Didren and warrior Elfwy, the Red Clan’s Dhagga and Black Star Templar’s Lieutenant Isolt —really break loose in this book. But it isn’t just these women who get to join the battle. We see numerous female soldiers and warriors from all sides, and no, their armour is no different from the men’s. It is good to see the series buck the Smurfette Syndrome trend and give us a world where gender has reached some state of equality.
This is probably the most conversation heavy issue of the series, as opposed to exposition heavy, and it makes for lighter and more enjoyable reading. With all the action taking place, one would expect the quieter moments to get lost but not so with Sword of Ages. The characters find themselves in real peril here, and their reactions to the situation are as expected: gallows humour, tender goodbyes, and even a touch of sarcasm. One presumes that the next, and final, issue will follow in the same vein.
The only point of contention I had with this book, which I did not feel in the first three issues, was the content of the coloured text boxes. In earlier issues, it was always obvious to me who the speaker of the words in the text boxes was, but not so in this one. Despite its limited use in this installment, I still found it disorienting, and it took me out of the story. However, this is a minor hiccup, easily overlooked amongst the glorious art and exciting fight-scenes.
As with issue #3, this book ends on a surprising cliff-hanger that promises to set up a grand finale and possibly answer some questions about Avalon’s yet-to-be-disclosed past. This beautiful and rich tale has been a thoroughly gratifying experience and, though I look forward to an epic end to the story, it will be sad to say goodbye to Avalon and her friends. Till issue #5 is released, you can catch me re-reading the first four books.