Wailing Blade #1 // Review
This is an advance review, with the retail copy becoming available on 5/29.
Comics are a passion project for almost every creator working on their book. From the writer to the joe who makes sure the staples go in the right way, just about everyone on a book has some love of the craft that comes out in the end product. When new creator projects pop up, regardless of quality, you can quickly tell if the book was made with love or with money in mind. Coming from publisher Comix Tribe is such a labor of love, Wailing Blade.
Created by writer Rich Douek and artist Joe Mulvey, Rich and Joe are joined by Chris Sotomayor and Jules Rivera for colors. Taylor Esposito rounds out the creative team as the letterer.
The tale of Wailing Blade focuses on Tychon, a member of a bandit clan known as the Windcleavers. He and his people resist the oppressive forces of the Tyrant of Minturn, one of the few nations to rise after mankind fell from the stars. However, there is also the Headsman of the Tyrant, a near-invincible executioner who makes use of a massive blade to kill enemies of the state. When Tychon’s father is captured by the forces of the Tyrant, he takes the responsibility to rescue his father and claim the Headsman’s blade: the titular Wailing Blade.
As mentioned above, this comic feels like a labor of love. In this case, it’s really a good thing. The world feels rich and developed beyond the pages. While this can disorient readers initially, it also doesn’t lose the reader in paragraphs or pages of “as you know” content that so many writers can fall into. While the character designs initially look like something out of Word of Warcraft, the overall setting and the weaponry used drives home the fact that this is a post-apocalyptic setting, and what could be a traditional fantasy race feels more like a lost alien species who got stuck on Earth with the rest of mankind.
The writing is pretty enjoyable, with a lot of “show don’t tell” going on in the dialogue. This does lend to some reader confusion, as characters treat one another like they already know what’s going on. Those who are expecting large informational dumps like Tolkien should look elsewhere. However, characters do feel like they belong in the world, and the entire comic gels in a way that most first issues do not. It actually feels like this could be issue 4 of a different comic, but Douek and Mulvey have cut out the filler to make a more streamlined presentation.
The art is honestly awesome at times. The designs do indeed feel like something from a Blizzard game, with bulky characters and designs meant to protect rather than show off the flesh. Full armor, massive shoulders, and face paint all show that the world’s aesthetic has been inspired by games like World of Warcraft, but the blend of higher technology and lack of traditional fantasy races shows that the inspiration doesn’t dominate the execution. In short, thanks to the colors provided by Sotomayor and Rivera, the world is vibrant and is filled with delightful details and ridiculous gore.
Of particular note is the title item, the Wailing Blade. Alleged to be an alien artifact from ancient civilization from before the fall of Man, the blade has a feel of cyberpunk to it, with glowing lines of power and uniquely remarkable ability. When the Wailing Blade is used, the blade itself screams like its victims. The result is some delightful effect work from Esposito and some great mental imagery.
Wailing Blade is a cross of a lot of fresh ideas, excellent designs, and some charming writing. This book quickly shows that the people working on it love the world they’re setting up and that passion is pretty infectious. Pick it up, it’s worth a look.