Review: ‘Amala’s Blade’ #3

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Civil war is on the brink of being reignited in “Amala’s Blade” #3, and our teenaged assassin is at the centre of it all. With only one more issue left in Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas’ Dark Horse mini, writer and artist continue to approach the narrative with an accelerated pace, and set the stage for what’s expected to be an epic finale to this well-written, and beautifully illustrated, steampunk fantasy series.

WRITTEN BY: Steve Horton
ART BY: Michael Dialynas
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASE: June 26, 2013

Keeping up with the speed of the previous installments, Part 3 continues with Amala’s successful infiltration of Lady Strawbale’s Purifier Palace as she attempts to complete the suicide mission The Vizier vindictively assigned to her. Disastrously, a huge character reveal confirms reader speculation regarding the true identity of Amala’s target. This complicates matters for the hero and sets forth a series of events that’ll keep readers hooked until the very last page.

In contrast to the ample amount of bloodshed leading up to this issue, Horton focusses on building Amala’s story and establishing just how significant her role is in forging a better future for all of Naamaron. Readers are offered more insight into Naamaron’s bureaucracy through Horton’s world-building, as well as Amala’s psyche and disposition towards her role as ‘assassin’.

Besides all the drama bread from recent character and plot developments, “Amala’s Blade” #3 has some comedic aspects to help alleviate the tension. One panel in particular depicts two high-tech Modifier guards debating over the modification of male genitals. This offers a welcomed treat before the action picks up again. Biopunk themes of genetic engineering and bodily enhancements are pretty visible throughout this installment, but the most impressive panels feature the same mechanical wyrm that graces this month’s fantastic cover, and Dialynas does a superb job rendering its body. The scenes where Amala’s facing off with the cybernetic beast makes it hard not to be reminded of Kurtis J. Wiebe and Riley Rossmo’s junk-punk series “Debris” in terms of art, in which Rossmo illustrates the female protagonist battling against machine-like animals. It’s a worthy comparison.

On the topic of art, Dialynas delivers his best work thus far with the release of this month’s issue, and continues to establish himself as a stylistically distinguishable artist. His colour palette of purple and blues when dealing with the Modifier people, and his incorporation of traditional steampunk browns when illustrating the low-tech Purifiers, is perfectly executed on paper. The fact that he successfully manages to portray how vastly different the two warring factions are, is commendable.

As far as lead characters go, there’s still so much to learn about Amala than is provided in these pages, but Horton does an impressive job creating a likeable character that possesses such questionably unlikeable traits. Here’s hoping both writer and artist have more Amala goodies up their sleeve because one more issue doesn’t seem like enough.

4.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – ShadowJayd