DC once more seeks to diversify their line by adding books that don’t fit the description of typical super heroics, this time by reviving 80s fantasy star Amethyst. Like the previous version, Amethyst is normal high school student Amy Winston… or is she? There are similarities to the old concept, but much of the story is brand new, courtesy of writer Christy Marx, creator of the independent comic ‘Sisterhood of Steel,’ another fantasy concept.
Unlike the wide-eyed, blonde Amy of the past, this Amy is slightly older and thanks to having moved frequently, is an outsider. She dyes her hair turquoise and fuschia and keeps to herself. Her lack of friends doesn’t seem to phase her, but she can’t help intervene when she hears a mousy wallflower named Beryl accepting a date with a handsome football player. She knows something is up, when the boy, Tyler, asks Beryl to meet him behind the bleachers after the Homecoming game that night.
Next we meet Amy’s mother, Gracie, a waitress who is finishing up her last shift at a diner. Tonight is Amy’s seventeenth birthday and “everything changes at seventeen,” she mentions ominously. Later at their trailer home, Amy mentions that her mother promised when she turned seventeen that she would take her home… to her real home, where her father was buried. What follows next is a strange training session as the two sword fight, with helmets and shields. We learn that this is a nightly occurrence for the Winstons.
The book then cuts away to the mystical kingdom of Nilaa. Lady Mordiel rules over the House of Amethyst and she reveals a clue about Amy’s origin. We quickly learn that Lady Mordiel is not to be messed with, however, this doesn’t bode well for Amy and Gracie.
Back on Earth, Amy turns up at the football field to, sure enough, she finds Beryl attacked by Tyler and two of his buddies. Amy puts her training to good use and drives them off, but Beryl, in a panic seems to blame Amy for what has happened.
Once she gets home, Amy and Gracie head for “home.” Amy clearly has no clue what she’s getting into, but after a lengthy drive then hike, Gracie opens a magical portal to Nilaa. There, the pair are almost immediately embroiled in a huge battle!
The second feature of this book is Beowulf, a futuristic retelling of the epic poem. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity seems to have been reset to medieval mode. A young warrior named Wiglaf, along with two older warrior approaches what used to be a military base, seeking the “perfect soldier,” a fabled warrior named Beowulf. Unfortunately, they find him and he is everything he is rumored to be. Thinking quickly, Wiglaf is able to sway Beowulf– who appears at least partially cybernetic– to his side and explains that he was sent to retrieve him, in order to save his people from the monster Grendel.
Both features are very well-written and have some excellent artwork. I’ll start with Amethyst. Aaron Lopresti’s art, with colors by Hi-Fi, have a lovely, dreamy watercolor look to them, which fits a fantasy story. The real world sequences are rendered in a darker, harsher style with the scenes in Nilaa being vibrant and bright. It’s just very, very nice! I love the character designs! And it’s all just so beautifully detailed.
The high school story is a tad stereotypical and with the Winstons seemingly headed permanently to Nilaa, felt throw-away. But it did effectively tie into Amy’s training and instincts.
Lady Mordiel is introduced and given a believable motivation for her “villain” status. The book really comes alive during the scenes in Nilaa. I even like the names of the inhabitants of this world– Sakil, Pwaka, Lalli… those don’t sound like the usual made-up fantasy names. They sound like names from some strange foreign language. Kind of original, I thought.
Beowulf was very short on comparison. But we do get an effective introduction to the killing machine that is the title character as well as an introduction to the narrator Wiglaf and the set-up to this particular tale. It’s immediately interesting in that these are seemingly medieval warriors, yet the setting is the future. The art, by Jesus Saiz, is actually– at least in my opinion– even better than Lopresti’s Amethyst art. Just beautiful!
This book is worth it for the art alone. Storywise, it’s less than perfect. Oh don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed both features, but I have read better. But even so, I definitely recommend this book.
SWORD OF SORCERY #0
Amethyst written by Christy Marx
Art by Aaron Lopresti
Beowulf written by Tony Bedard
Art by Jesus Saiz
Cover by Josh Middleton