Artemisia is the daughter of an aristocratic family in Northumberland, England in 1851. She is a woman of color, and her older sister just passed. That sister never treated her well, and their mother is cruel to Artemisia as well. Caroline, Artemisia’s little sister, and their father show love. One day, Artemisia makes a wish while looking into a mirror, and something comes out of the mirror. It drags her into the Faerie, a land of magic and danger. If Artemisia is to make her way out, she must fight and even kill.
Sparrowhawk #1 opens from a unique angle. Artemisia is not only a child born of infidelity, but she is also a woman of color born to an aristocratic white family in Victorian England. The world is pitted against her in many ways, and she must struggle to maintain her own dignity.
Despite the cover, the comic can almost dupe you into believing that it will be a Jane Austen-esque drama of familial struggles and romance. However, the hard turn into dark fantasy ups the ante injects a lot of excitement and—well, interests my action-loving dude self a lot more.
The fantasy elements are interesting; they lean a lot more into danger and the unknown than wonder and excitement. The Faerie is a dangerous place, and Artemisia discovers it quickly.
Matias Basla’s artwork has a deceiving simplicity to it that is vastly subverted by the bizarre and elaborate world of the Faerie. It’s the same overall style, so there is still that hint of simplicity creating elaborate detail. It looks great, and it is supported by Basla’s pale and bright foreground color work balanced by dark backgrounds.
Sparrowhawk #1 is an engrossing tale of a young woman of color restrained by her times finding a world where her wit, creativity, and possible latent brutality traps her and tries to make her its own. This is a great first chapter to a new tale, and I highly recommend giving it a read.
Sparrowhawk #1 comes to us from writer Delilah S. Dawson, artist Matias Basla, letterer Jim Campbell, cover artist Miguel Mercado, and variant cover artist Stephanie Hans.