Amala’s Blade: Spirits of Naanaron TPB
Writer: Steve Horton
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Colorist: Michael Dialynas
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 22, 2014 | From my column @ Forces of Geek.com
Dark Horse Comics had an amazing 2013 with a plethora of books covering both familiar and foreign territory.
One miniseries that came out of nowhere was Amala’s Blade which tells the story of Amala, a young female assassin who is drawn towards a higher purpose. This trade collects all six issues including the Dark Horse Presents prelude released in 2012.
At its core, the book’s charm is what makes this a fascinating cover to cover read.
Amala hates being forced into her line of work, but she likes killing which makes it odd that you would feel remorse for the character.
Writer Steve Horton makes it work flawlessly by adding a certain depth to Amala that hints at a goodness waiting to be freed. Killing someone who is just as evil as her employer, The Vizier (think Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from Dune) is fun, while taking the life of an innocent and less fortunate soul comes with a heavy heart.
Michael Dialynas brings sophistication to his animated style that is fun to explore and highlights the attributes of a perilous situation.
A ghost monkey is often perched on Amala’s shoulder during her swashbuckling adventures. Dialynas manages to make her look like a total bad ass. This may be hard to take seriously on its own, but add some angry looking fire breathing dragons to the mix, and it really establishes the wide array of themes in the story.
Coloring can make or break a depiction. Dialynas’ color treatment augments every image with saturated colors headlined by bold shades of blue. The colors bring out the detail in the pencil work, ultimately making the book more enjoyable.
One of the things that can make graphic novels a preferred choice over single issue comics is how well they serve a story. Sometimes, I might forget something about the plot because I have to wait a month plus for the next monthly issue. A collection gives you the whole story or an entire arc. So much happens in Amala’s Blade that it really lends itself to this medium.
In addition, the creators go all in with concept art and journal notes that talk about what was intended and how it turned into what it ultimately came to be.
I couldn’t give this book a more glowing recommendation if you put a gun to my head. Steve Horton put the reader on a quest that produces a cornucopia of mystery, romance, humor and action. Amala is a character you love because she is a deadly cutthroat with a subtle heart of gold. Amala’s Blade: Sprits of Naanaron is a labor of love that no doubt will be the next shinning gem of your collection.