When I was in a college freshman, it was mandated we take two gym classes. I wanted to try something I had never tried before, so I signed up for fencing. There was an Olympic fencer from my hometown who was a bit of a local celebrity, but the real reason I was interested in fencing was because I loved movie swordfights.
As a freshman in that class, we learned the basics for the first four weeks. We studied and practiced lunges and parries and all that stuff. Soon it was time to actually fence against another person. Within seconds, I forgot everything I had been learning and it all reverted to any other backyard swordfight. I relied 100% on those summer days when my brother and I would swish sticks in the backyard and say things like “ah-hah!” Needless to say, I was not invited onto the fencing team.
But… in the spirit of those summer swordfights, let’s review some comics!
The Fox So Cunning and Free
American Mythology is a new publisher, just celebrating its 5th anniversary. One of the licenses they have acquired is Zorro, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The Mark of Zorro : 100 Years of the Masked Avenger is an impressive coffee table book celebrating this long-lived hero’s many incarnations. James Kuhoric and Jason Ullmeyer have assembled a collection of amazing images from every Zorro adventure – all the books, pulps, movies, cartoons and comics. It’s heavy on imagery and light on text, so it is a quintessential ‘flip through” book.
Comics creators Matt Wagner and the legendary Don McGregor (who created my favorite version of Zorro) supply the introduction and forward respectively to make the proceedings all the more special.
Seven Swords is a new comic series from another “new” publisher, AfterShock Comics. They’ve been putting out so many titles they don’t seem new anymore to me, though. Seven Swords is written by Revan Daughtery and the art is provided by Riccardo Latina. This new series focuses on a middle aged D’Artagnan, who you will remember from Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers. In this story, however, the Three Musketeers are offstage, and D’Artagnan seeks to avenge them by recruiting a new team . He goes all-in Magnificent Seven style.
Latina, an Italian artist who is new to me, employs a classic style that suits the material, but he leverages a sense of dynamic movement, so it never looks dated.
A Look Back at an Invincible Sword
Recently, Back Issue Magazine shined the spotlight on Conan, the Barbarian. One of the articles reviewed all the ‘other’ barbarian characters from the Bronze Age, and I was fascinated by Dagar, the Invincible. A Gold Key/Western “Sword and Sandals” character, Dagar was created by Don Glut and Jesse Santos. Wonderful painted covers graced each issue, many may have been painted by George Wilson. I would have ignored this series as a kid, but lately I have I been scouring back issue bargain boxes for it. Glut is an imaginative and clever writer, and able to pack so much into one-and-done single story issues.
Santos, part of the wave of brilliant Filipino artists who illustrated 70s comics, is simply fantastic.
The layouts, anatomy and inking are all inspiring. All of Santo’s barbarian women look like they walked off the set of a 1969 Hollywood movie, but that’s not so bad.
Of note if you want to join me in the noble quest of collecting Dagar: he didn’t really have his own title. It was officially Tales of Swords and Sorcery featuring Dagar the Invincible.
“Don’t leave home without your sword- your intellect.”