In Review: Xena: Warrior Princess #1

Readers can rejoice for Xena is back!

The covers: Nine covers to grab before a chakram gets thrown your way. The A cover is done by Greg Land with colors by Ivan Nunes. This is a fantastic first issue frontpiece showing Xena turning to face several unseen foes, though their weapons are shown slightly protruding from the sides of the book. She looks outstanding as she holds her sword in her left hand and is reaching for her chakram with her right. This is a moment caught before the action commences and it’s poster/print/tee shirt worthy. The coloring is amazing with faded yellows, with her seeming to be sent from the sun behind her. Outstanding! The B cover is by the stellar Jenny Frison. I’ve become a huge fan of her work due to her sensational work that she’s been doing for Dynamite and she continues to be a favorite with this illustration. This is a strong image of Xena holding her chakram her right hand and her sword in her left. A slight wind is blowing her hair forward. The coloring suggests flames atop a light violet background. Also outstanding. The C is the Blank Authentix cover for one’s favorite artist to create an original illustration. Greg Land’s contributions for the A cover are on display on the D cover which is the B&W Incentive cover; it’s the same as the A, just minus Nunes’s colors. Good, but I really like Nunes’s work on the A piece. The Incentive “Virgin Art” cover is the E, which is the B cover minus all text. If one is a fan of seeing the artwork untarnished by all the textual information, this is the one to get. The F cover does the same as the E, as it is also an Incentive “Virgin Art” cover, but featuring the A cover’s art. It’s just as good as the E. The G cover is by Nei Ruffino for Jesse James Comics exclusively. Ruffino is also an amazingly talented artist and fans should always be picking up anything she illustrates. The H is an Islander Comics Exclusive cover by Sarah Giardina with colors by Ula Mos. This has Xena standing before a beautiful mountain scene, hair, again, blowing in the breeze, as she raises her chakram in proud defiance. Excellent. The I cover is the same as the H, just minus Mos’s colors. This is also a good cover and really shows how much Mos contributed to the H cover. Overall grades: A A+, B A+, C C, D A-, E A+, F A+, G A+, H A+, and I A-

The story: Genevieve Valentine has crafted an outstanding story that gives fans familiar with Xena an excellent story and an accessible entry point for new readers. “Nowhere…yet,” Gabrielle follows a ghostly spectre of herself in a foggy forest, littered with arrows and Roman banners. She wonders if this is an Oracle from Asteria, because she doesn’t recognize this setting. Her ghostly self stops before something and says, “I can’t believe you let me throw it.” Suddenly, the real Gabby notices a slash across her right wrist. The future (?) Gabby then reveals she has a piece of Xena’s chakram in her hand, while the warrior princess lies dead on the ground, the other piece of the chakram protruding from her throat. In the dead woman’s hand is a piece of torn fabric. This shocking image then moves to “Norther Illyria. Now.” Two children are being chased through a town by an angry mob. The pair are surrounded and one man runs forward with a club to smite the children, while one of the tykes proclaims, “We were starving! We didn’t hurt anything!” Before the blow can be landed, something knocks the club from the man’s hand, causing all to follow the spinning weapon that Xena catches. Xena and Gabby learn that the two children bear the mark of Ares and that they’ll bring war to the city. The women take the children from the town and learn their backstory. Following the mysterious opening with the pair helping children is a good way to establish the leads with the reader. Valentine also inserts a good flashback when Xena wasn’t the nicest of people to give her some history and introduce a character who will be a future antagonist. The Romans also appear in this tale, giving Xena another group for her to rebel against. The highlight of the book, much as the series, was not the butt kicking, but the scenes where Xena and Gabby just talk; it could be a panel or a page. Moments like this have the characters grow and increase their believability. 18 and 19 were my favorite pages because it focused on two of my favorite fictional characters, and, yes, it does further the plot, but it also shows how well these two people work together. Overall grade: A

The art: Excellent artwork on this series by Ariel Medel. The opening has a stellar, spectral introduction to Gabby. The forest setting is also well done, with the second page being a great splash of characters and setting that creates a shocking tone. The point of view on this page is also good, with it falling to Xena who’s dead on the ground. The transition to Page 3 is exciting, practically from the same perspective of Page 2, with the two children running down the street. With the focus on the two youths, Medel is still able to insert some background to show readers the pair aren’t running in the wilds. The second panel shows five adults after the kids, and each is rendered with an impressive amount of detail. The third panel pulls up and back, high above the scene, showing how the children are trapped. Page 4’s first panel is a super introduction of the living Xena, striking an action pose while protecting the kids. Medel definitely knows how to lay out a page; I really like how the fourth panel is combined with the first. The top of Page 5 nicely shows a peaceful setting as the four leave the city. Gabby’s storytelling abilities are on display, all too swiftly, atop 6, and in three panels Medel is able to show the joy he has telling his tales. There’s a great splash on 9 that has no text and shows Xena with a familiar face fighting some legionnaires: it’s great! Page 14 is a great way to show the characters traveling a long distance through several settings very cleverly. The final three pages have Gabrielle and Xena talking in a forest and Medel is able to make this an interesting conversation by pulling the point of view in and out, showing the characters in relationship to the settings. Take note of how once the characters begin to have a disagreement, Medel has the characters distance themselves from each other, culminating in a high, distant shot, revealing them to be completely apart. The book ends with a splash, and I’m dying to see what Medel does with these characters next month. Overall grade: A

The colors: The first page shows that Nanjan Jamberi is going to do a good job on this book. The ghostly outline around Gabrielle makes this character stand out from the setting, which is done with a beautiful faded blue to create a foggy environment. Several of Xena’s key episodes took place in night, and this book opens in the evening, but Jamberi is able to create the darkness without hurting the art by Medel. Page 3 has the colors changing considerably due to the change of settings, with tans and browns creating the urban environment. The interiors of a tavern are warm with oranges and another night scene cool with blues and greens. The legionnaires stand out in their scenes with their stark reds, which also create an ominous tone. Jamberi is aces. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, narration, dialogue, yells, and the tease for next issue were crafted by Rob Steen. The font he’s using for the scene settings reminds the reader of the ancient time period, and I was pleased to see Gabby’s narration be a different font from the characters’ narration. There are no sounds in this issue, and there are few moments where there could be, such as in the third panel on Page 8 where the iconic Sam Raimi whooshing sound that occurs whenever a hurled weapon is focused upon. I missed the sounds, which are such a fun part of the series. What Steen does is great, but I’d love to see him add some sounds! Overall grade: A

The final line: Readers can rejoice for Xena is back! This is a terrific introductory issue that will please the most fervent fans and bring others into the fold. Thank you, Dynamite, for continuing her adventures! Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    2 Comments on this post.
  • Ariel Art
    8 May 2016 at 6:31 am -

    Thanks for the comments but I’m a dude. hehehe.

    • Ian Cullen
      8 May 2016 at 11:43 am -

      Oops sorry about that lol. Have snoock in and changed the parts that refer to you as she to he.