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Review: ‘Amala’s Blade’ #1

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Previously featured in issues #9 through #11 of “Dark Horse Presents,” steampunk enthusiasts can finally enjoy the first of 4 installments of Amala’s Blade in full epic glory. With Steve Horton expertly scripting the series, and stylistically charming art by Michael Dialynas, this book promises a great dystopian adventure as it follows a defiant, female master assassin on a suicide mission.

WRITTEN BY: Steve Horton
ART BY: Michael Dialynas
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASE: April 24th, 2013

To shed some light on the civil war torn fantasy world in which the story takes place, provided on its opening pages is a Tolkien-esque map of the Naamaron Kingdom, which is rancorously divided into warring factions. On the West, covering the more traditional aspects of the steampunk genre, are the low-tech Purifiers, powered by steam and scornful of the high-tech Modifiers to the East. These Modifiers cover the Biopunk subgenre well, in that they seemingly value genetic engineering and enhancements in order to become one with the machines they worship.

Both sides are fearful and aware of the prestigious Vizier’s sword-wielding master assassin, Amala. And by the time Horton and Dialynas are finished introducing the character within the first seven pages, readers will understand why. Anticipate some engaging cut-throat action. Literally. For all her successes as a deadly, unremorseful assassin, she’s become reckless and unpredictable on assignments due to her dissatisfaction with being used by Vizier. Unfortunately, the great Vizier isn’t too happy with her carelessness either, and resorts to sending her on a suicide mission to teach her a lesson. And so begins the main plotline and lead-in to Part 2.

The pacing of the issue is perfectly informative without being overbearing, and features interesting side plots which appear to hold symbolic and psychological significance for Amala in the main story. It’s very unique in comparison to most steampunk fiction where the genre tends to have an elegance and romantic appeal to it, but Horton adds his own splash of romance as we’re introduced to Amala’s love interest.

Dialynas created something special when illustrating Amala. From clothing to figure, she’s drawn in logical and realistic propriety. Not once is she graphically or impractically sexualized, which is a refreshing bonus. His work on the opening pages is gold, in terms of details, action, and colouring. There isn’t an abundance of blood and fiery destruction, but his aim towards a more realistic take on both is of particular note. Moreover, how he manages to make Vizier look both futuristic and Victorian simultaneously is a hilarious mystery. Dialynas’ style is very interesting and definitely worth checking out.

All in all, “Amala’s Blade” seems like it’s going to be another hit for Dark Horse, and the first issue is definitely one worth buying for those interested in steampunk fantasy epics with ass-kicking female protagonists. Though, a little more ass-kicking would have been appreciated. Personal taste of course. No doubt there will be more in the coming installments.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – ShadowJayd