A new hero begins her journey.
As much as IDW may focus on big properties like TMNT, Ghostbusters and the Hasbroverse, they’ve also published their fair share of great creator-owned comics to boot. None made a bigger splash than Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key. Now one half of that team is back with a brand new space fantasy series. Sword of Ages may try to cover far too much ground in its first issue, but you have to admire the passion Rodriguez is bringing to the table on this one.
Sword of Ages draws from a number of different influences (everything from Tarzan to the works of Moebius to the Dune books), but it doesn’t feel particularly beholden to any one property. Rodriguez has clearly put a lot of thought into this vast universe, from the races and cultures that inhabit it to the politics and religion. That really comes across in this densely packed first issue, as Rodriguez traces the early hero’s journey of main protagonist Avalon. All the trappings of an epic, fantastical adventure are in place by the end.
Rodriguez’s art is easily the biggest selling point. The sheer imagination and energy poured into these pages is something to behold. Each characters has a unique look and way of moving. Fantastical warriors bump elbows with talking sabretooth tigers. Advanced technology appears right alongside magic and arcane imagery in a way that can only be described as He-Man-esque. There’s so much going on in this world, and Rodriguez brings it all to life with a steady hand and a flair for bold, dramatic imagery. Colorist Lovern Kindzierski gives that imagery a comforting yet alluring sheen. This is a vastly different sort of book from Locke & Key, one united only by a similar display of imagination and heart.
The biggest problem this series encounters right out of the gate is its sense of impatience. Plot-wise, Rodriguez covers a huge amount of ground in the early pages. Characters are introduced and seemingly abandoned in short order. Other characters are added without much in the way of introductions. It’s frustrating to see such a dynamic, diverse world being introduced, only for Rodriguez to steamroll right through key chunks of his story. This seems very much like the kind of comic where it’s better to take things slow, savor the journey and get to know the major players a little better.