Arthurian mythology has been a source of inspiration for centuries, as storytellers reinvent a legend rooted in enduring themes like the desire to become something greater and the challenges of keeping power once it’s obtained. For his first series as both writer and artist, Gabriel Rodríguez is tapping into Arthurian source material with Sword Of Ages, a five-issue sci-fi fantasy miniseries about a young woman who becomes the protector of her planet after getting her hands on a magical weapon. Rodríguez is one of the sharpest visual storytellers in comics, and this exclusive preview of this week’s Sword Of Ages #1 highlights the wonder and drama he brings to the introduction of his alien world.
Working on challenging, ambitious series like Locke & Key and Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland gave Rodríguez outstanding control of character expression, an eye for bold, evocative design, and a deep knowledge of how layouts and composition impact storytelling. These skills are all on display in Sword Of Ages, which opens with a cool spaceship, immediately jumps to a somber family moment, and then reveals a massive cosmic jellyfish. The contrast of Lovern Kindzierski’s coloring adds to the tension of this opening, and his minimal rendering gives the textured line work more weight.
The scope is still huge when the action shifts to planet’s surface, but the focus gradually gets more personal over the course of this excerpt. The final page features some especially impressive visual storytelling, using layouts to inform both spatial relationships and emotional connections. The heroine and her adopted mother are on opposite sides of the page at the start in two separate panels indicating their split after years together. But they are still bound together on a deeper level, which is represented by the two wide panels that have the mother’s eyes and the daughter’s necklace combining to create the impression of a saber-toothed tiger face. They come together for one last goodbye, and as the heroine leaves, there’s one final shot of her adopted sister watching from a distance, the physical space reinforcing the sister’s sad loneliness. Sword Of Ages is full of inventive, sophisticated visual techniques, and Rodríguez has crafted a story that takes advantage of the skills he’s honed over time.