The Empire Strikes In Sword Of Ages #4 From Gabriel Rodriguez

by Oliver MacNamee

This is what it’s all been building to, as the differing factions taking sides and the menacing Red Sun Clan team up with the empirical forces of the off-worlders, the Black Star Templar to take up siege against the White Monks of The Twin Moons in what promises to be a cracking two issue finale. Witnessing it all, before throwing themselves dead first into action, are Avalon our heroic mystical-sword welding daughter of the Mountain Tigers and her band of companions.

As an issue that focused on all out war, the reader is given a punch-by-punch, widescreen, multi-perspective account of a battle that seems very one-sided as the White Monks are bombarded on all sides of their citadel by giants, warriors, and the Black Star Templar’s superior technology. Seems the underdogs only brought a knife to a gun party. While this is a series firmly rooted in fantasy and the Arthurian legend –  while also representing a more diverse cast of characters than the aforementioned Arthurian stories – I cannot help but see The Black Star Templar as allegorical of Britain, Spain, and so many other European colonial powers overpowering natives in their own countries, be it America, Africa, India and beyond, with superior firepower. And an arrogance that in Morgan, their leader, oozes from every pore of his privileged white skin.

Indeed, it’s only now that I notice diversity is non existent amongst Morgan’s ranks, while Avalon and her rag-tag team of warriors and chancers are nothing but diverse. That, and Morgan’s dismissal of the indigenous people, their religions and cultures. Creator Gabriel Rodriguez has certainly crafted a fantasy story with hidden depths. Or is it the English teacher in me reading too much into it?

But then I witness the additional pages at the back; a look behind the curtain of the creation of this comic, and the intricate, methodical world building I’ve mentioned before when reviewing the first issue of this book a while back now, and I think maybe I am onto something. Rodriguez has not only fully realised this world, its diverse population, and the world’s varied environments and architectural styles, but he’s created 3D CAD models of the most important backdrops and in this issue he reveals the lengths he went to to visualise the White Monks’ citadel city, Caledia.

This realisation of such a vast area helps Rodriguez fully execute his vision of the battle between the four factions and plot each character’s starting point and end point, as well as how these different characters and actions interrelate with the fight that’s going down across this epic issue. The immense double page spread, depicting the all out action of this issue on a grandiose scale, says it all! It includes the blue pencil layouts, which are stunning enough. But, you’ll want to pick up this issue for yourself to witness the true majesty of this scene, and all the others, whether in close-up, mid-shot or in widescreen!

Sword of Ages #4 is an immense, astounding issue in which Rodriguez choreographs the ensuing battle in a meticulous and entertaining way with great pace, as well as great moments of drama for our heroes. Well worth your time.

Sword of Ages #4 arrived in shops on May 30th, 2018, from IDW.