Brian Wood and Mack Chater are back this week with Sword Daughter #2, a new series about a little girl and her father attempting to find redemption. The story is raw and realistic (just read what the creators had to say in our interview) and it offers a historical fiction like no other. What is its magic bullet? The samurai cinema approach of course.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Revenge is violent and heartbreaking, but for Dag and his semi-feral daughter, the clash of swords is a chance to heal old wounds. First stop is the Shetlands and a serial killer who must be put down.
Why does this matter?
Brian Wood is basically the defacto best comic creator of historical fiction. Period. He’s tackled vikings, rednecks, and now the people of 991 AD. The first issue was particularly good as it revealed a unique relationship between father and daughter.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue continues the main characters’ journey and it reveals how hard this journey is in 991 AD. They must gain passage by working and even then they might get their necks cut. Brian Wood does a good job of revealing how the father is worth a damn, which helps since up until this point we’ve only known him as a coward who wants to make amends. That takes place in a one on one battle that’s brutal, but also psychologically intriguing.
The relationship between father and daughter seems to be subtly developing. Since the daughter only speaks in word balloons filled with symbols one imagines their connecting requires action. Chater does a good job revealing the daughter via facial expressions and by the end, you get the impression they’ve possibly bonded over killing a man.
Chater’s rendering of a town on the coast in this era is excellent. It looks highly realistic and the subdued colors (by Jose Villarrubia) do a good job casting a dreary and hard living tone. Later in the issue, there are some smart looking rain effects that add a bit of tension to the fight sequence.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a transition in this issue that confused me as if a page was missing. The characters are riding in a boat in good weather, then you turn the page and they’re at a rainy settlement with the daughter laying in the mud and blood coming from her head. It’s a weird transition too because it’s not really a smash cut, but instead starts with a birds-eye view of the settlement and then pulls in on the girl. I think the intention was to break up your expectation and possibly be funny, but it forced me to flip back and forth to make sure I didn’t miss something.
Much like my main gripe with the first issue I want to learn more about the characters our heroes are chasing after. We get squat about them once again.
Is it good?
A good second issue that develops the characters and enriches the father character. Historical fiction is easy to get wrong and make mistakes, but this creative duo seems to be immune from that.