Brian Wood’s Sword Daughter continues to deliver the high watermark for comic book storytelling with issue #7 hitting store shelves on June 5th. Visually stunning. Emotionally intelligent. Shockingly simple. The book continues to surprise this cynical reviewer by delighting all capable directions of narrative without getting stale. I would recommend this book to literally anyone, as it has something to offer readers both young and old.
This issue continues with Elsbeth, having just rescued her father from prison, now trying to recover, out in the vast farmlands in some form of Old England. The quiet moments that almost always open these issues are why I keep coming back to Sword Daughter. They are able to deliver such a clear performance with each panel, and while not much is “happening,” the panels each feel very alive: her father’s contemplative looks out on the horizon; Elsbeth’s quiet conversation with a neighboring farm girl. There is enough information and pensive beauty in these artistically thoughtful panels that it would make Nicolas Winding Refn blush.
Eventually, Elsbeth’s rest is cut short by the next movement in our story. Money and powerful men have corrupted the land in which they sit, and some reckoning is in order. It’s all mixed up in religion and very much mirrors the kind of goings-on we deal with today in politics and our corporate world. I would hate to spoil too much of the plot. Suffice it to say, you’ve seen this kind of setup before, although Sword Daughter’s execution of the plot is very refreshing. This is also the inciting event that gets us back to our action, the kind of action only Sword Daughter can deliver.
Interestingly, the formula for Sword Daughter has made itself known at this point. With one whole arc behind them and another well underway, we can see the rhythm of high-action combat (hyper violence), downtime (peacetime), meeting a new group of people, and starting it all over again. Inevitably, everyone they meet must either be beaten or saved. With the revelation of Elsbeth’s adulthood now caught up with the story, I am very interested to see them break this pattern and go in a new direction. Heck, I would even take a whole issue where no conflict happens. In fact, I would relish in it, as it seems apropos for the story they are trying to tell. In a real, grounded situation, there isn’t danger lurking around every corner. Rather, we have seasons of war and seasons of peace. This is very long way of suggesting they try something new, if not for this arc, then maybe for the next.
Save for that incredibly helpful last paragraph, I wholeheartedly recommend you pick up this series. Whether you are a fan of comic books or not, it’s just a good story. Elsbeth and her father are great characters. The setting is mysterious, yet familiar. The colors alone will please your critical eyes. Do not sleep on Sword Daughter.
Creative Team: Brian Wood (writer), Mack Chater (art), José Villarrubia (colors)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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