[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Lin Lie, the once and future Sword Master, has been having nightmares. Every night, he finds himself charging at Chiyou, the God of War, with a magic sword he can’t lift. He’s saved by his father, who is crushed by Chiyou. This time, Lie is awoken by his friend, Cheng, who has a lead on Lie’s missing father and brother. Lin Lie follows this lead, which takes him to a crew of superstitious graverobbers.
In the backup story, Sword Master is found by Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. Shang isn’t impressed by Lin Lie’s skills, so he takes it upon himself to train the Sword Master.
Sword Master #1 gives us a closer look at the cocky and impatient hero we met during War of Realms: New Agents of Atlas. We learn the motivation and origins behind Lin Lie as well as what haunts him.
Lie definitely shows his cockiness and impatience in his solo issue as well. However, he also shows a cleverness that wasn’t apparent in New Agents of Atlas. The first story also seems to take place before the events of that miniseries.
The dialogue is less strong than Aero #1. There is a lot of repeating facts as well as stating things that are apparent in the art. That isn’t a dealbreaker, but it does put Aero in the lead as far as the comics for this new batch of heroes goes.
Gunji’s artwork is astounding, and the style leans into some of Sword Master’s visual similarities with Guts from Berserk. It incorporates many other stylistic choices inspired by manga and anime. Gunji also adds a distinct texture and shading work that really makes Sword Master look unique in the field of both comic books and manga. Gunji’s color art is phenomenal as well. Ario Anindito provides the artwork for the second story, and it looks great as well. His style also compliments Gunji’s, and Rachelle Rosenberg provides excellent color work for this tale.
Sword Master #1 is a fun and energetic first step for this superhero’s new solo series. Lin Lie is a compelling lead that stands out even in the vast superhero field that is Marvel Comics. This one gets a recommendation for sure. Feel free to check it out.
Sword Master #1 comes to us from writers Shuizhu and Greg Pak, artists Gunji and Ario Anindito, color artists Gunji and Rachelle Rosenberg, letterer VC’s Travis Lanham, cover artist Gunji, and variant cover artists John Tyler Christopher; Philip Tan with Jay David Ramos; and Billy Tan.
Final Score: 7.5/10