Sword Daughter #2
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Mack Chater
Colorist: Jose Villarubia
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse
Review by Frank Lanza
Brian Wood sure loves his middle ages. The guy writes the Nordic Viking period as if he was actually there. Beginning with Northlanders (which I regrettably admit to not having finished the last trade) and now with Sword Daughter, Wood just has a way of picking you up and dropping you off on a thousand-year-old beach in some ancient town no one can pronounce and making it feel like home.
Sword Daughter #2 continues the tale of Elsbeth and her father Dag, who having recently woken up from a ten-year coma has begun his crusade to end the existence of the Forty Swords, a roving war clan that destroyed their village and killed his wife. Elspeth spent the first 10 years of her young life making sure her father continued to live while copying scrolls and trading with the local villagers. Understandably, she’s a little angry at her father for leaving her alone at the age of two while he “slept.” She’s a feisty little thing, and not even her returned father can quench her anger. If anything, his return and desire for revenge has only stoked it even hotter.
The thing that strikes me the most about this book are the visuals. It’s a very cinematic experience: every panel could be a panning shot of the landscape; every close up is worth a thousand words. These vistas and the people that inhabit them wouldn’t be possible without Chater’s fantastic work. He has a perfect eye for each scene and doesn’t waste energy adding extraneous details to distract from the story at hand. His work has a wonderful realistic style without looking overly referenced or precise. It’s loose, energetic, and focused. In other words, it’s good stuff Maynard.
I’m a long time read of Wood’s work, and I knew when I saw this title that it would be in his proverbial wheelhouse. He writes everything on a deep personal level on top of epic world spanning tales. The main story of Elsbeth and Dag re-establishing their relationship is a strong undercurrent to the tale of revenge and even stronger beneath the larger story of the eventual encounter with the Forty Swords. It’s a very tasty layer cake, and I have a feeling we’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m very confident Wood will deliver on all fronts.
Verdict: Wait and see.
This is a tough verdict to pronounce. I obviously love this story so far, and Sword Daughter #2 definitely deserves to be purchased. These are big issues, but with the scope of the story and the pacing I feel like this book will end up being an even more wonderful experience when the trade hits. But, by all means, pick up the single issues now and buy the trade again later. I’m positive this book will not suffer at all from a few rereads. But, for my ideal experience, I’ll want to gobble this up an entire arc at a time.