With legendary sword and scabbard in hand, Avalon departs the Guardian’s lake to continue her quest along with her new cohorts, Lancer, Trystan, and a reluctant Gawyn. Elsewhere, the Red Clan prepares for their duel with the White Monks, with the scheming Black Sun Templars behind the scenes. Despite Merlin’s many protests that the challenge is a trap, Lord Huss of the White Monks elects to engage the Red Clan, relying on the will of the gods and the long-established sacred laws to ensure his victory. En route to the White Monks, Avalon and company happen upon the immolated and crucified remains of the slavers. (See issue one.) Distraught by the scene, Avalon makes haste and finds the White Monk’s citadel surrounded. With the aid of Gawyn’s invisibility granting stealth pins, Avalon is able to make it to the citadel just in time to see the treachery of the Red Clan and the Black Sun Templars unfold.
If two words could be used to describe issue three of Sword of Ages, it’s “jarring” and “brutal.” The narrative gave a hard gut punch not only to Avalon and her party, but to the reader, as well. The revealed fate of the slavers from issue one greatly alters a reader’s perception of them; no one deserves the fate they received. Love interests and secondary characters are beheaded or stabbed in the back. The planet in Sword of Ages, depicted as perhaps a bit post-apocalyptic with ruins yet fantastical with his foliage and beasts, has taken a sudden, barbaric, and savage turn; this is a ruthless world, and the Black Sun Templars who seek to tame it are only making it much more violent.
Yet, on the other hand, as Avalon, the Red Clan, the Black Sun Templars, and White Monks all converge in the story, Avalon’s planet really opens up. The architecture of the White Monks and the clothing worn by the Templars really make both factions pop with details. The various beasts, such as lizard and bird mounts and mammoth monsters where one looks like a giant gorilla and another with multiple tusks protruding from its face, are plentiful in this issue, fleshing out the world’s bestiary. There are immaculate details in all of these elements, from the monsters to the uniforms, which exhibit the hallmarks of well thought out world building. Rodríguez and company have certainly been successful at subverting both the Arthurian and sword and planet genres with Sword of Ages. The last major rubicon to be crossed is to witness Avalon and her Excalibur in action.
Creative Team: Gabriel Rodríguez (creator, writer, illustrator), Lovern Kindzierski (colorist), Robbie Robbins (letterer)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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Nicholas Diak is a pop culture scholar of industrial and synthwave music, Italian genre films, peplum films, and H. P. Lovecraft studies. He contributes essays to various anthologies, journals, and pop culture websites. He is the editor of the anthology, The New Peplum: Essays on Sword and Sandal Films and Television Programs Since the 1990s. He can be found at nickdiak.com.