Amala's Blade plays with cliches in a mixed manner. Some of them I appreciated, others I didn't. I still think Amala's Blade has an issue with deus ex machina (more on that in a bit), but the other ways it plays with reader expectations deserves praise. Issue #4 redeemed Lady Strawbale for me as acharacter and as Amala's mother. We witness how harsh and dangerous she can be, and I like that, for once in fiction, we have mother pitted against daughter in more than just a social conflict. Amala and Strawbale have a ton of parallels, and the ways they are shown remove my doubts of her reveal in Issue #3. That connection has a critical point to the story.
The one thing that did not change for me was my dissatisfaction with where the spirit plot went. Like in Issue #3, they have entirely too large a say in the plot and take away choices from Amala and everyone else around her. They are a deus ex machina of the highest caliber, which I find frustrating. The spirits were better served as a supporting cast and as a source of mystery and levity, but when that is stripped away they're a detractor from what's otherwise a fascinating world and set of characters. Perhaps the one redeeming factor about the spirits is that it's not just me who grew frustrated with them in this issue, and some exciting possibilities were set up with them should we get Amala's Blade #5. *cough cough* Come on, Dark Horse. *cough*
And, that takes me to the one other thing I wasn't satisfied with as a reader. I need to know what happens next. Joking about how much I'll miss this series aside (because I will), crap goes down this issue and Amala's world has changed. There are dozens of possibilities on where the story will go and some new mysteries that are teased that I need to see unfold. If Issue #4 is, in fact, the conclusion, then it will have failed on that account in some ways. What it is is a conclusion to a damn good arc in comics, the opening story to a fascinating heroine, and a wacky world filled with steampunk and giant cybernetic snakes with the tease of more adventures. It's about the best way you could end.
Four and a Half Bad Teleports out of Five