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Review: ‘Amala’s Blade’ #4

Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas are back with more of their visually stunning steampunk adventure in a civil war torn fantasy world. However, what makes “Amala’s Blade” so compelling is the character-driven narrative. The power of individual strength and perseverance is particularly evident in their characterization of the series’ namesake, ultimately leading to themes of self-actualization and responsibility for one’s identity by the final installment.

The release of issue #4 sees Amala’s journey come to an end, but not without its fair share of casualties. Exceeding the high level of skill and quality already established by Horton and Dialynas in previous installments, “Amala’s Blade” #4 delivers on all accounts.

WRITTEN BY: Steve Horton
ART BY: Michael Dialynas
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASE: July 31, 2013

Picking up right where issue #3 left off, the final installment wastes no time before delving straight into the story’s action. Amala, having discovered Prince Markos’ plan to reignite the civil war between Modifiers and Purifiers, alerts Smitty and Ren of an ambush by Modifier troops in Neutral Territory. When both warring factions begin to face off, Dialynas takes centre stage with his incredible pencils and colours illustrating the action.

His art explodes across the pages with a vibrant colour palette of mostly blues, purple and brown, displaying a dramatic and accelerated sense of narrative. His work indicates effortlessness in regards to various movements of battle, authentically demonstrating the fluidity his illustrated soldiers possess through a solid understanding, and perfectly executed representations, of the human form. Michael Dialynas’ work also conveys a fresh perspective on the steampunk fantasy genre, showcasing elements of both past and future throughout the issue.

The fourth installment continues with more character-building for Amala. The previous issue has already established how significant her role is in forging a better future for all of Naamaron, but part four really drives the point home, courtesy of her mother, The Lady Strawbale. Whether she’s able to reunite the clashing Modifier and Purifier people in order to stop the resurgence of civil war, or whether or not she’s ready to accept her destiny, readers will have to pick up the issue to find out.

Steve Horton writes in a way that really captures the readers’ imagination. He covers a vast amount of ground in this final issue in order to tie up the series nicely; drawing his audience into his story through numerous twists and turns. He successfully builds upon Naamaron and the “Amala’s Blade” universe over the span of four issues, describing Amala’s world so earnestly throughout the series. Horton keeps up with the fast-pace of the narrative, and swiftly moves the story along to its final pages, producing some surprisingly unpredictable plot developments along the way.

He has created something special with Amala, so it’s doubtful this series will be the last we see of the sword-wielding, master assassin. Overall, “Amala’s Blade” #4 is a worthy issue to end one of the finer series of 2013. From Dialynas’ amazing cover art, to the very last hilarious panel featuring Stormscale the mechanical wyrm, and everyone’s favourite ghost monkey, his work is phenomenal. Here’s hoping the plans to expand Amala’s universe are currently being concocted in Horton’s brain, right now.

4.5/5 Skulls

Review by – ShadowJayd



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