Sword of the Dark Ones Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 204
  • ISBN: 1401206476
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Sword of the Dark Ones Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     August 16, 2006
Release Date: March 09, 2005

Sword of the Dark Ones Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yasui Kentaro / Kotobuki Tsukasa
Translated by:Akira Tsubasa
Adapted by:Jake Forbes

What They Say
In the Asgard Empire, people live their lives in constant fear. Monsters, known as the Dark Ones, roam the land, killing indiscriminately. One man has built a reputation as an especially fierce monster-killer " a man known as Leroy Schwartz, the Black Lightening. He has a mission to accomplish and a vow to fulfill. He travels with one companion " his sentient long-sword Ragnarok.

The Review
Sometimes a good action story is just what you need.

Though boasting the odd diagonal design and uninspiring logo of the early CMX releases, this series doesn't suffer so poorly for it and in fact effectively uses the elements that ruin other series' covers. CMX uses a slightly cropped version of the original image featuring a glaring Leroy and his sword Ragnarok. It also mimics the original colored logo scheme and although the other highlights are CMX's addition, their contrast with the simple black and white art really draws attention. Inside the printing looks good and a color posted is included. The tight binding issue that plagued CMX's early volumes is gone by the second printing of this book as well. Other bonus materials include comments from the original creator and four pages of notes about the characters and world of "Ragnarok."

I like the art here a lot. The character designs aren't breaking molds but they're attractive, drawn well and are fitting for the type of story this is. Bodies look really good; Leroy is well-built and tough but not overly muscled, women are busty and revealingly-clad, and Lily's a cute little girl afforded plenty of panty shots. Other assorted villains and creepies fit in nicely as well. I especially like the piercing eyes and angry, expressive faces for all the characters, though angles are sometimes unkind and bring inconsistencies there. Action scenes are quick, easy to follow and don't shy from bloodshed, often taking interesting liberties with page layout. Backgrounds mostly disappear in the action scenes, but otherwise add some nice structure art to the panels. Art reproduction looks really good here. Lines and tones come across clearly and solid inks are dark without ever suffering washout or bleed.

Special note: Although the first printing of this volume included the censorship of two panels featuring male genitalia, they have been restored as of the second printing.

SFX are untranslated, save for a couple instances. There aren't a ton of them to begin with and most of them are pretty easy to figure out given the action of the panels, but still without any sort of translation I don't consider the work to be complete. The adaptation itself reads well with no noticeable errors, and font styles are used nicely.

Contents:(please note the following contains spoilers)
In a mythical land during some undisclosed period of history, human existence is constantly threatened by lethal attacks from the Dark Ones - evil beings of unknown origin. The Dark Ones kill people indiscriminately in their attempt to take over the land. Only the highly trained members of the Mercenary Guild can stand against them and offer protection for the people. Well, the mercenaries and Leroy Schwartz, that is.

Leroy Schwartz is a man on a mission to destroy the Dark Ones. A super powerful ex-mercenary who harbors secret powers - not to mention a fully sentient sword named Ragnarok - he's likely humanity's best candidate for victory. The story opens with Leroy on an ordinary escort job; his clients run a brothel in a nearby town. What he doesn't know is that the brothel is actually a front for Crimson Despair, an assassins guild whose boss has a very particular interest in Leroy's special skills.

Shortly after dispensing with his duty, Leroy finds himself faced with a new task - rescuing a young girl from the very same brothel - a request from a most unwelcome source from his past. Though we don't know anything about his past with this assassin woman named Lena, it says a lot about Leroy that he will knowingly head into what is surely a trap to save one little girl.

Naturally his agenda differs from those at the brothel and after a series of fierce battles Leroy finally comes before Harman Cartel, the head of Crimson Despair. What he discovers is not at all what he expects. Cartel is a Dark One, and he seems to know quite a bit about Leroy's "secret" abilities.

Among the shelves packed with long shoujo dramas and shounen adventure stories, good, short action manga are sometimes hard to find. This little fantasy series has the makings, no doubt; there is a nice set up with good action and a quick pace with just enough mystery surrounding the main players to make picking up the second volume an easy decision. I'm probably not among the intended audience for this title, but I really enjoyed it and I heartily recommend people looking for a break from their normal reading routines try this book out -- especially if those routines include a lot of the current best-selling titles. Despite the mature age rating and violence found inside, Sword of the Dark Ones isn't particularly gritty or adult, but it is a solid dark fantasy a step above the regular crop of teen titles. At only three volumes (and all currently released) it's not a huge investment, and with the censorship reversed, it's easily worth a look.


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