SWORD OF AGES #2 By Gabriel Rodriguez
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
Gabriel Rodriguez' Arthurian heroine, Avalon, makes a triumphant return in IDW Publishing's SWORD OF AGES #2. Packed with adventure and vibrant illustrations, SWORD OF AGES #2 is a little choppy, but filled with excitement.
92 %
No Dull Moments

Gabriel Rodríguez’s SWORD OF AGES (IDW Publishing) is back with its second issue. Avalon and her companions are deep into recovering a long-lost treasure. Meanwhile, Lord Morgan is growing steadily more powerful. SWORD OF AGES #2 answers some questions raised in the first issue, but the break-neck pace makes the issue feel short and leaves the reader wanting more. Also, SWORD OF AGES #2 has more gore and violence than the first issue. Luckily, Rodríguez’s talents shine through as he brings the same humor and creativity to the second issue.

The aesthetics of SWORD OF AGES #2 stand up to the first issue. In the previous issue, Rodríguez introduced the sci-fi adaptation of the King Arthur legends. SWORD OF AGES #2 continues to stray from the original mythology in more ways than one. The aesthetics this time include more alien species and smooth sci-fi futurism. Furthermore, with Avalon as the lead heroine, Rodríguez flips many of the gender expectations established in the original legend. In the first issue, Avalon captured readers’ hearts as a born leader. In SWORD OF AGES #2, Rodríguez faces the challenges of a new and more ominous character: Morgan Le Fay.

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Genre-Bending

SWORD OF AGES #2
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

SWORD OF AGES #2 takes Avalon into the depths of a dark lake to retrieve what can only be THE Sword of Ages. In that respect, SWORD OF AGES #2 follows the Arthurian legend fairly closely; Avalon must retrieve the sword destined only for her. Unlike Lancer, who arrogantly tries and fails to take the sword from the stone, Avalon easily pulls it from its glowing green resting place.

While Avalon, like Arthur, seems to serve as a balance between nature and culture, she challenges some expectations. For example, while King Arthur was a pious knight, Avalon is more rebellious. She seems to question the beliefs of the cultures on their planet. In challenging religious systems, she is set to push the boundaries of society and the comic. However, she is zealous in her own beliefs that good should conquer evil. Morgan also strays from the mythological figure. Traditionally, Morgan is the female-coded fairy queen who powerfully rules a chaotic nature. Instead, Rodríguez introduces a cut-throat colonial dictator, Lord Morgan. This switch is somewhat surprising as Morgan fills a more antagonistic role. However, the creativity proves Rodríguez is doing more than just adapting the Arthurian legend to a new genre. Rodríguez casts a power-hungry warlord as the foil to Avalon, who is more directly tied to nature and justice.

SWORD OF AGES #2
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

The New Morgan

However, Lord Morgan’s character presents new problems in terms of genre and gender. Clad in red-and-black armor, Lord Morgan is the colonial leader of the Templars. Although it is slightly unclear what Morgan’s goals are, it appears he wants control over the vast species and groups inhabiting the red planet. Placing Morgan as the colonial antagonist is an interesting move. He is downright creepy. While the Morgan Le Fays of old stood for a chaotic nature, fighting against human culture, Lord Morgan seems to do the opposite. The narrative implications for Morgan’s character, who seems obsessed with technological development and control, are hard to predict.

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SWORD OF AGES #2: Sci-Fi Aesthetics, Fantasy Plot

SWORD OF AGES #2 is reminiscent of STAR WARS in that the bizarre planet is home to many equally strange creatures. Rodríguez could spend the entire comic just surveying the wild animals he creates. The adorable sea monster who ferries Avalon and her friends through the lake is as cute as the goblin-like creatures in the lake are fearsome. All of Rodríguez’s creatures are fantastically creative and well-drawn.

SWORD OF AGES #2
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

One surprising feature of the comic is how Rodríguez blends technologies. The prehistoric-feel is still present, but as Avalon moves further from the saber-tooth cats’ realm, she encounters more magic and technologies. Swords and magic work alongside spaceships and high-tech espionage gear. Only one aspect of the technology felt out of place: Avalon’s flute. In order to tame the beasts in the lake, Avalon uses brain over brawn. But instead of pulling out a magical harp or panpipes, she produces a run-of-the-mill marching band flute. Not only does this instrument feel overly girly, it is hard to imagine Avalon lulling monsters to sleep with a flute solo. Nevertheless, Avalon’s creativity should be the focus, and the mix of science fiction and fantasy is an exciting aspect of SWORD OF AGES #2.

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That’s IT!?

The end of SWORD OF AGES #2 is abrupt, to say the least. There’s nothing like a good cliffhanger to keep readers excited for what is to come. However, SWORD OF AGES #2 might introduce too many new concepts in too short a time. Morgan is the most developed of the characters. His drive to conquer the planet and his apparent maliciousness is a strong introduction. However, other aspects felt choppy. The sword in the stone subplot might have been more exciting had it been the sole focus. As it is, SWORD OF AGES #2 jumps from Morgan to Avalon to the Caledian Monks quickly and hazardously. As a result, Avalon’s character development is lost in the shuffle, and her relationships with her companions are bizarrely truncated. Additionally, the Monks are put in Morgan’s warpath but the reasons are frustratingly unclear.

SWORD OF AGES #2
Image courtesy of IDW Publishing.

Final Thoughts on SWORD OF AGES #2

Nevertheless, the comic is exciting and introduces more thrilling characters. Readers may experience a “that’s IT!?” feeling at the end. Ultimately, whatever Rodríguez brings next will surely keep readers on their toes. The brisk comic features an array of fantastic creatures and compelling characters. As SWORD OF AGES continues to play with the tropes established in the Arthurian lore, it will be interesting to see where Rodríguez takes Avalon next. Especially now that the sword of ages is in the rightful hands.

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