(W) Delilah S. Dawson (A) Matias Basla
Falling into an alternate universe/fantasy world has been a staple in the fantasy genre for years, with classics like Alice in Wonderland, Labyrinth, and Chronicles of Narnia to name a few without rambling on. To break into this genre you need to have a unique twist that will interest readers, which Sparrowhawk has, but doesn’t take off on a strong wing. Delilah S. Dawson’s Sparrowhawk begins in London of 1851 where we are introduced to the main character Artemisia, daughter of a Naval Captain, whom we find out is expected home from his job, but that is of no importance in this first issue. Following this we have a quick back and forth with what seems like her step-sister, showcasing how headstrong Artemisia is and how willing she is to stand up for herself in any situation.
The plot takes off when Artemisia gets dragged through her mirror by the Unseelie Queen, whom we can deduce is the Queen of Faerie, once the Queen is in our world she changes her shape into our main character. Once in this alternate universe she meets Crispin, who is very reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat, and with a trade Crispin teaches Artemisia the rules of this world, the more you kill the stronger you get, and with strength you can make it through the mirror back home. This is its strong suit, showcasing one of the ways this differs from stories before, It’s violent and encourages violence to make it out alive, as the saying goes, “Only the strong survive”. The other main “twist” (which I enjoyed most) is when Artemisia lands in Faerie she is not afraid, concerned, or bothered by being somewhere new and probably terrifying. Instead she takes it in stride trying to figure out where she is in a calm way, usually when getting transported to another universe the protagonist isn’t in a good state of mind.
The art by Matias Basla is “just good” in some panels, while others left me in awe of its detailed beauty. The part that stands out most in the art is the monster designs, the Queen looks magnificently menacing, and the few other creatures look unique to the point that you could recall them from a line-up of fantasy characters. One of the best pages is the two page spread showing the swap into the mirror, the panels show an excellent transition of the transfer between worlds. The colors also by Basla really shine in Faerie compared to earth, starting with many shades of blues, then introducing more bright lively colors, separating and showcasing how mystical it is.
Final Thoughts: I enjoyed the moments in Faerie and really liked Artemisia as a character, but this issue felt slow in the beginning, only racking up the speed in the last few pages, I’m hoping the remaining four issues feel like the final pages. The parts on earth feel slow, but with Unseelie Queen acting as Artemisia this could add some fun, and drama to these scenes making me more excited for the next few issues. Plus the monster designs are so superb I can’t wait for more to be introduced.
Memorable Quote: “It’s a butter fairy. One is born each time a baby laughs, so they’re an epidemic. Stupid, harmless things.” – Crispin