I was thinking to myself the other day about new and exciting things I could write about, and I decided to do a spotlight series, where I’ll talk about a comic I particularly like (or can at least muster up some entertaining, frothing-at-the-mouth hate for) and explain slowly and patiently why you should like it too. With this in mind, I put a list together, and then DC went and cancelled one of the titles on my list, because DC are angry that I took Suicide Squad off my pull list and want to get their revenge. So I guess this is part spotlight, part retrospective. Whatever. I’m just making it up as I go along. Sssh, don’t tell the editors, they think I’ve got my shit together.
Sword of Sorcery seemed like it was made especially for me, or more specifically, the little daydream avatar of me who has awesome dresses and mystical jewellery, wields a sword, and yells things like “But I was just PRETENDING your energy beams were weakening me, Lord Deathkill, they actually made me STRONGER!” It was a comic for the girls who grew up with Barbie and Disney princesses, but also Buffy and the X-Men. It was a comic you could read in a tree. If you licked it, it would taste of butterscotch Angel Delight with sprinkles.
Sorry, in the pink haze of nostalgia I forgot to actually explain what Sword of Sorcery is about. Silly me. It tells the story of Amy, a misfit high school student who travels around a lot with her cool but crazy mother, who insists on teaching her things like swordplay, hand-to-hand combat, the mystical properties of stones and such. One day, Amy finds out that she is actually Princess Amaya of the House of Amethyst, and must return to the alternate dimension of Nilaa to learn magic and defeat her evil aunt. What follows is a nice mix of political intrigue -all the different houses have their own agendas and peace treaties- and magical butt-kicking, as Amaya learns more about her heritage and destiny. So it goes without saying that it didn’t appeal so much to the core demographic.
In spite of the feminine slant to the main story, there is plenty for male readers to enjoy as well: fights are frequent and brutal, the plot of self-discovery whilst fighting a great evil is a solid favourite, and the costumes -though a little foofier than standard superhero couture- at least have the decency to show impressive amounts of cleavage. Sure, the average girl discovering she’s a powerful princess does have a hint of Mary Sue about it, and the land where everything revolves around shiny rocks is as twee as a flock of bluebirds, but it seemed as though Amaya and her young friend Ingvie were at least aware of this, and we were laughing along with them at the ridiculousness of it all.
Back-up feature Beowulf, on the other hand, takes place in a far future that looks suspiciously like the distant past, as though a nuclear holocaust left nobody alive but some incredibly lucky LARPers. It’s a pretty straightforward retelling of the Beowulf myth, but with the part of Beowulf played by Deathstroke, the part of Grendel played by a holdover from Amanda Waller’s Chimera-creating days, and the part of the iron trolls played by WayneTech robots. It’s a good enough twist to make the traditional fable seem new and interesting, and Deathstroke (though never mentioned here by name) is more interesting here than in his own series- which, not surprisingly, is also on DC’s death list. It compliments the main story well: Sword of Sorcery shows magic from the point of view of a girl used to iPhones and TV; Beowulf shows technology through the eyes of a superstitious village boy. Beowulf provides the testosterone; the male characters in Sword of Sorcery are restricted to the roles of kindly uncles, minor villains, or the nice guy who will inevitably be promoted to love interest. I liked that inversion of traditional gender roles, but at the same time can’t help but suspect that may have contributed to its downfall- would Sword of Sorcery have sold better if Beowulf was the headline feature?
I liked Sword of Sorcery. I liked getting transported back to my giddy childhood playtimes, even if it was for just twenty pages a month. And now it’s over.
Fuck you, DC.