By Patrick Wolf
I normally have a soft spot for indie comic producers. I respect and admire such people, and so I naturally want to give them a good review. That said, I’m also a critic and I have a duty to provide my audience with an honest report—no matter how much I want the team behind the project to succeed. The Six Swords is, unfortunately, one of those projects that I just can’t get behind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst thing I’ve read, but it definitely needs a lot more polish before I’m prepared to recommend it to the public.
The Six Swords takes place sometime after World War 4 around the year 2079. It features six assassins-for-hire who are forced to work together after they realize they’ve all been hired by the same guy to capture each other. Faced with a bounty on each of their heads, the team must fight its way past scores of ruffians to find their mysterious boss before they go from ‘bounty-hunters’ to ‘bounties’.
Overall, the Six Swords is a fairly ordinary reading experience: the art’s okay, the dialogues decent, and the story’s coherent. Where the Six Swords really suffers, however, is in its amateurish grammar mistakes. Combined, the story has three writers and two editors, and yet, somehow, they all managed to miss the plethora of mistakes in the following sentence:
“Once upon a time in post-world war IV America, six swordsmen set upon each other for the glory of one warlord toss aside their differences and journey across a land ravaged by chaos, confronting not only foes from the past, but their inner demons as well.”
This is for real folks. The above, is actually a word-for-word copy of the first sentence in the Six Swords. There are no typos here. That’s actually how it’s written. Now, while I don’t want to sound like a cranky grad-school teacher, I cannot simply ignore these errors. Here’s a list of the following mistakes in this one sentence: comma splice, run-on-sentence, missing period, cliché, sentence sprawl, and missing comma. To be fair, the rest of Six Swords does a decent job in the grammar department, but errors like the above shouldn’t be happening—especially in the first sentence of the first issue.
But grammar mistakes aren’t the only problem with this comic. Another setback has to do with the story’s plausibility. On the one hand, we’re told the story takes place after WW4 somewhere around the year 2079, while on the other hand, the story’s illustrated as if it were a cheap western set in the 90’s. Nowhere in the comic are there signs of the devastation from the previous two world wars that would have plausibly set civilization back into the western era.
Another problem I have has to do with the story’s humor. Six Swords likes to make a lot of prostitution jokes—particularly ones that involve not paying for the poor girl’s services. Now, while I’m not an advocate of prostitution, I am an advocate of paying them. The women in the sex trade get abused and degraded enough. If you’re going to be a customer, the least you can do is pay them. I don’t find it funny that the ‘heroes’ will go to any length to get out of their bill—even if it involves literally jumping through a glass window.
To be fair, some of the story is pretty funny, but I fear that wasn’t the intention. To give an example, there’s one scene where the heroes first meet. It begins with Graves capturing Sanchez. The scene then continues with Adonis capturing Graves, and then Wu capturing Adonis. The scene goes on to do the same thing two more times. It culminates in the first captive telling the last hunter that he had earlier poisoned his drink—so, really, the first guy also captured the last guy. I remember chuckling during this scene—though, I'm afraid it was probably wasn’t intended to be funny.
I could go on with dozens of more examples, like how a pack of unarmed ruffians were implausibly willing to be hacked to shreds by the six heavily armed ‘good guys’, or how the story suffers from too many characters, or how the artwork sometimes looks more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than three-dimensional characters, but I think I’ve said enough. The Six Swords is an amateurish attempt at best, and a callous affront at worst. You’re best off avoiding this one.
The Six Swords # 1
Writer: Melchor Sapiandante, Matthew Perez, and Chris Massari
Artist: Ryan Cody
Colorist: Elaina Unger
Letterer: Renato Guerra
Publisher: AHR Visions