SWORD MASTER #1 / Writers: Shuizhu & Greg Pak / Artists: Gunji & Ario Anindito / Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg / Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham / Publisher: Marvel Comics / Publish Date: July 4, 2019.
Sword Master, Lin Lie
After his performance with the Agents of Atlas, one might think that Lin Lie would have a better handle on life as the Sword Master. The mystical sword of Fu Xi was given to Lin Lie by his father Professor Lie, who found the sword during an archaeological dig in the Valley of a Thousand Tombs. Now Lin’s father has gone missing, leaving him to follow a trail of clues to his disappearance (including how the sword is connected).
Sword in the Tomb
The issue opens with a story of introduction by Shuizhu, called “Sword in the Tomb”. Here we see Lin Lie’s motivation, love for his father, and bravery. After Lin awakes from a nightmare about fighting with the sword, Shuizhu also introduces us to his friend, Cheng (who is not as pure as Lie seems). Their interaction allows the reader to see how tortured Lin Lie is with his father’s disappearance, as well as how impulsive he can be. Shuizhu also does a great job of enrapturing the reader with action and snappy dialog, while still giving great backstory.
Gunji’s artwork for “Sword in the Tomb” is in the Anime style, without being either bland or over-the-top cartoonish or bland. The action was fantastically drawn in both the nightmare sequence and the flashback to the robbers. Gunji also did an entertaining, aesthetically pleasing job showing the intricacy of opening and then locking a puzzle box. My only complaint would be that the color palette of earth tones in this section may have been better with more hints of brightness.
Sword Master & Shang-Chi
Greg Pak’s second story “Sword Master & Shang-Chi: Master Class, part one” was a great new layer to Lin Lie’s development. Any story that involves Shang-Chi is a comic reader’s dream, and of course, this is no exception. Our Sword Master is young, without much experience. He is on a warpath to find his father, while in possession of a very valuable artifact, which is also a very powerful weapon. So, his impulsiveness from the first story bridges quite well into interactions with the level-headed Shang-Chi. The more seasoned hero gives the new hero a lesson in being tempered and careful, as well as checking his ego. Pak has quite a knack for showing just how different two characters can be, while still endearing you to both of them. Hopefully, we will see many more interactions between Lin and Shang-Chi.
Ario Anindito’s art and Rachelle Rosenbergs colors not only support this story, but elevate it. In his first appearance, the reader can feel Shang-Chi’s power. Anindito’s positioning and focus on Shang-Chi makes clear, right away, how impressive he is. Rosenberg’s colors of the same panel show the Sword Master as low and dull in juxtaposition of the striking brightness of Shang-Chi’s costume. The sky in this panel is also beautiful in its realistic dusk color tones, making the contrast even clearer.
Overall, I really enjoyed the storytelling of this book, and its action. Both writers have done an awesome job of constructing a new world of ancient lore and mysticism. The artists and colorist on the book help to engage the reader from the very start. The sword itself is drawn and colored in a beautiful way. I can’t wait to see more of it in action. And even though this book was in two sections, it felt like a single cohesive work. I eagerly await seeing where Lin Lie’s story leads from here.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Danielle is a lover of all things comics, superheros, fantasy, and supernatural. She is a Doctorate of Education student, while working full time event planning for a University. When not working or comic reading, she can be found snuggling her dog, Sir Dublin Von Fuzzypants or her husband Dave.