Advance Review: Wailing Blade #1 Is A Bloody, Brutal Blend Of Fantasy & Sci-Fi

by James Ferguson

In a world where mankind once traveled the stars, the Tyrant of Minturn now rules with an iron fist. Serving his will are fierce executioners wielding the last vestiges of technology. None are feared more than the Headtaker who carries the massive Wailing Blade. A group of bandits aim to take out this executioner once and for all, but they may have bit off more than they can chew.

Wailing Blade features an interesting mix between fantasy and sci-fi. The setting, buildings, and most of the clothing looks like your traditional fantasy setup, but that quickly changes when you get a glimpse at some of the technology that’s been woven into the everyday lives of these characters. The Headtaker’s weapon is as futuristic as they come. At one point we get a glimpse as to the over head display that shows the man where to strike.

This sword is pretty impressive. It makes a statement from the first time you see it. It’s so large that the Headtaker must carry it across his back, supporting it with his shoulders. This is an impossibly large blade that would be almost comical in the wrong setting, but is right at home here. It instantly gives you an understanding of how tough this man is if he’s able to wield this blade.

The Wailing Blade has a unique feature where it “screams” when it’s swung, hence the name. It’s an eerie yell of pain and anguish that happens to coincide with blood and violence. Letterer Taylor Esposito matches up these sound effects with the swing of the blade, like it’s part of the object itself.

The Headtaker’s design is suitably frightening. He’s like a nightmare come to life so it’s fitting that he’d be the last thing any criminals see before their head is removed from their bodies. He definitely lives up to his name, too. We see him cleave a man’s head off in a most gruesome fashion pretty early on in the book, just in case you had any doubts that this guy means business.

This bloodshed pops off the page in a gorgeous array of reds. Colorists Chris Sotomayor and Jules Rivera create a vibrant palette for Wailing Blade that fills this world with life…and subsequently, death. The colors also play into the fantasy / sci-fi hybrid, mixing softer, more natural tones with the bright, mechanical shades of technology.

The Headtaker is the lone dark element in the book, like a black hole of death and destruction. The energy and life stops with him, which is kind of funny because he’s one of the most active characters in the book. He’s a driving force of power.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the Headtaker and just who or what he is. There’s a great panel with a close-up of his eyes, seen through his skull mask. They’re weary and bloodshot, like he’s already died countless times before and has been reanimated to do the Tyrant’s bidding. It’s either that or he has an infant at home that won’t sleep. I’ve had that same look.

Artist Joe Mulvey has upped his game with Wailing Blade. The amount of detail in every single panel is substantial, particularly with the town scenes where lines and lines of intricate brickwork can be seen. The panels are very dynamic, creating a varied layout that makes every page interesting. This keeps the action moving at a good pace while pulling in close for the slower scenes without losing any momentum.

Wailing Blade is off to a great start with a solid first issue. Writer Rich Douek drops us into this intriguing world, mixing fantasy with science fiction in a perfect way so that the two genres don’t overpower one another. Instead, they work together to create something stronger and farther reaching. This is big and bold and it’s just getting started.

No release date has been set for Wailing Blade #1 just yet, but if you want to be the first to find out when it’s coming, your best bet is to sign up to the ComixTribe newsletter.

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