Written By: Brian Wood
Artist: Mack Chater
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Lettering By: Nate Piekos
Cover by: Greg Smallwood
Published By: Dark Horse Comics
Following in the same footsteps I left during my review for the first issue, let’s see if I can reiterate my similar perceptions in different words. The art is just as incredible this second time around, and the muted colors are perfect for the gritty historical vibe. The story, while improved from the inception, still leaves me wanting much more.
The plot has gotten a little more interesting with this issue. Elsbeth and her father are confronted with a mystery, however, it was all cleared up quite quickly. Perhaps this is supposed to establish the justification for their becoming legends, but I wasn’t convinced at all that the townspeople couldn’t have done the exact same as this visiting pair. The beginning of this second issue took a while to get started, too. Although I admired the art, I did feel as if a few pages were somewhat wasted before the story got going.
Upon contemplation, I’m wondering if another main issue with the plot is how out of place large portions of the text seem to be. Too many phrases, in both the dialogue and the captions, are too modern. I understand that this story, if accurately told, wouldn’t be in English, but there’s more to it than that. The text takes me out of the era and setting, because it is written at points as if the people talking are from today. Sometimes, it’s rather jarring.
In a comparable sense, Elsbeth’s narration doesn’t work well, much of the time. Every so often, there’s a gem from her, but the majority of her captions do not seem right for a female character of her age and experience. Children can be difficult for adult writers to get correct, and I would almost like to see this same story without any of Elsbeth’s narrations. Flashback scenes of her past would maybe be more powerful.
All of this said, Sword Daughter really is a gorgeous comic. It reads like one of those quiet video games, if anyone has played Brothers or something akin. In many of the scenes, I am very near to hearing the lapping of waves on the shore, or the steady drum of rainfall. There is an atmospheric vibe, and I do like the characters and story, despite the shortcomings I’ve pointed out. Whenever I think I’m nit-picking in a review, I also try to remind myself that problem areas I find are just places where improvements can be made. I want just as much as anyone to see a decent tale be a stupendous one.