Review: The 7th Sword #4

7th Sword #4 does a lot of setting up for the issue after it, which is the cardinal sin of a monthly comic book. This month kicks off on a high note with the six sword trainees versus the giant Bad Idea Robot (i.e. “That robot is a bad idea, don’t turn it on!” “It’s totally a good idea, trust me.”). That ends... about the way you’d expect. The daughter of the murdered ruler of ZenZion decides she wants to train to fight, as one of the other six is injured, and the Judas character continues to be a Judas douchebag (as evidenced by the preview of next month’s cover, where he’s tied up between two poles with a sign around his neck that says “Judas”).

There were a lot of good action sequences in this issue. The trainees versus the Bad Idea Robot and Kathleen’s training montage were especially noteworthy, if for no other reason than when’s the last time you saw a legit, quick-passage-of-time, Rocky IV training montage in a comic book? It’s fun, but some of the dramatic fallout from it feels extremely unearned. When someone fails twice in rapid succession and then succeeds on the page, it feels more like luck than earned wisdom or skill. In film, it can be shown as a legitimate growth of the character, but it’s much tougher in comics.

7th-Sword-#4-1John Raffo has been a man who, since the beginning, knew where this story was going, so I have no doubt that he has good plans for next issue, and ways to tie up this storyline that will allow the grand narrative to continue. What I take umbrage with in this issue is the doling out of information. If you spend one whole issue basically giving the readers information about what will happen next, that isn’t foreshadowing. Your whole story can’t be foreshadowing, or else it’s not foreshadowing, it’s just telling people what to be on the lookout for next time. In the meantime, Raffo’s character voices and interactions remain rock-solid in their execution and conception, for which I applaud him.

Nur “Popia” Iman illustrates this issue again, to great effect. I don’t know if the idea on this book is to have rotating artists every couple of issues, or if Iman is the artist from here on out, but I dig him. He’s not great at facial expressions and nuance of motion, but for a book that’s 75% samurai swordfights and stoicism, he almost doesn’t have to be. He has to be good at drawing swordfights, desert machinery, and post-apocalyptic robots, all of which areas where he excels. With the big showdown on the horizon, I’ll be interested to see who they pick for the climactic battle.

There’s not much to report on this issue, honestly. If you haven’t been following the series until now, it’s a godawful place to pick up. You’re right in the middle of the action, and Raffo doesn’t cater to those who haven’t been reading. You might be able to glean the necessary info from the beginning summary, but I wouldn’t rely on it. If you’ve been reading, this is more of the increasingly slow burn to the final showdown that started last issue.

I wish they’d all just sword fight in the desert already.

Score: 3/5

Writer: John Raffo Artists: Douglas A. Sirois, Nur "Popia" Iman Publisher: IDW/Darby Pop Productions Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/27/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital