I have to say that one of my favorite things about Comic Bastards is the opportunity to review indie and foreign books. Swords, was originally published in Hungary and will be released in 2012 in the States. Let me just say that when people say that “comics are dying” that things like this give me hope that the medium will continue on no matter what. Enough of that though, you want to know what Swords is about and why you should pick it up right? Then let’s get started. The opening of the book is slow; in fact you’re exposed to bits and pieces of the story, but the plot remains hidden until nearly the end of the book. We open with two knights being relieved of their guard posting and through their banter it’s revealed that there are in charge of watching two princesses. The two guards that are released, The Ginger twins, are sent to escort a healer outside of the palace. She is going to cure a sickness that literally burns the person from the inside out. They arrive and the healer goes to work on the woman, but soon discovers that she’s been set up and a demon possession the woman takes over her body. This demon’s goal is to get into the palace but for what, is not known yet.
Back at the Palace, the Lost Prince returns. He’s been on a five-year voyage with 1,000 men and is the only one to return. His wife is cursed and he’s been seeking an item to rid her of the curse. Apparently he had a son while he was gone that he’s never met before, but they hit it off great. That part really bothered me, but we’ll continue any ways. The Prince takes a wrapped sword down to the dungeon of the castle and visits a chained goblin looking man as the demon possessed healer looks on at them.
This book is strangely good. The pacing and story structure shouldn’t work, but it does and that’s really cool. Typically a book that would build this slowly would frustrate me to read, but with this book its rhythm is perfect. The writer knows just when to cut to something different or to reveal the next chunk of the story. I really enjoyed the concept of the “Lost Prince” and that he’s probably fulfilled some terrible prophecy in order to keep his wife alive. After all, giving a sword to prisoner is always a bad idea. The only things that bothered me about the story was the forgotten son, literally the Lost Prince was like, “Hey a son, cool.” He just starts playing with him like he’d known him his entire life and there was really no true sense of emotions in the scene. Then the Prince became more concerned about keeping his wife alive then to learn about his family. Some of the dialog is a bit cheesy, but I think that’s true for any story that’s translated. You’re going to have to settle here and there to get the gist of the dialog across, but otherwise it’s a good story.
I enjoyed the art a lot. It has a 3-D modeling studio feel to it due to its consistency, but the artist Tibor Szendrei could just be that good. There are also art touch ups by Gergely Devenyi so I can’t say for certain what was used. I will say that it is very good art and competes with anything we have in the States. I’m waiting to see what battles and action look like, but it’s safe to say that the art team does a good job of keeping this mostly plot driven issue interesting and beautiful to look at.
This story reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight, both in story and art. The stories share similarities in the fact that they both take place during peaceful times with bored Knights. The difference being that Swords is clearly gearing up towards a new battle which gives it a Lord of the Rings feel to it as well. Now it’s more of epic battles and good vs. evil part of LOTR than the journey and the fellowship so don’t get confused. Swords will be coming out on the iOS and Android platforms soon enough, but you can also buy the book in print as well. The digital version, I’m told is going to have lots of extra goodies for free such as: Concept art, animated/voice version and extra bits of the story. All in all I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading the next chapter and seeing their US release.
Writer: Attila Nemeskeri Artist: Tibor Szendrei Redrawing: Gergely Devenyi Publisher: Phantom Shock Website