Xena and Gabrielle have just finished battling with Olympus and saving the soul of Xena’s daughter. However, it seems while they were fighting Olympus, the world radically changed. As they travel the countryside they attempt to make sense of just what has happened. How does it fare?
Writer Genevieve Valentine begins <i>Xena #1 with Gabrielle having a vision and, as with most visions, it is very confusing and difficult to make out exactly what is going on. It does depict a dire consequence, but it doesn’t really resonate because only two pages in, you aren’t invested in the characters at all despite Xena and Gabrielle having a rich television history.
If you thought the opening scene wouldn’t bode well for the rest of the issue, you would be right. The story jumps around and leaps through time quite a bit. At one point, we get dialogue from a traveler entering a tavern crying out for help because her village has just been burned. Xena announces it is time for her party to leave. You would assume she would be leaving to investigate this burned village. Instead, you get a camp-fire scene and a flashback into Xena’s past before half a panel of Xena investigating the village.
Now, this happening once is acceptable; however, the problem is it happens a number of times throughout the story. There will be dialogue alluding to impending action, only to have that action be skipped over or completely ignored. In another case, a group of Roman soldiers stops Xena. The leader of the Romans asks for Xena’s name, but in the next line he decides to forgo pressing the matter and grunts, “Hm. Hail Caesar.” It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The story does have one thing going for it. It has seemingly turned factions upside down to completely confuse Xena and Gabrielle. The problem is that the story is very much told from their perspective so as a reader you end up becoming confused as well, trying to figure out who are your allies, who are your enemies, and exactly what is happening in the world around you.
The story also lacks decent exposition. It gives us the prophetic vision sequence and then just jumps into the story without really anything to go on. We aren’t given any information as to why Xena is in Illyria or exactly what she is up to. She has a random (scripted) encounter with two children and the story progresses from there.
There were some fun moments when Gabrielle regales a tavern full of travelers with Xena’s adventures. It allows Valentine to show us another side to Xena and Gabrielle. They aren’t all business and action. They can enjoy themselves as well.
Ariel Medel’s artwork doesn’t improve matters. She struggles with head shots, especially when exposing characters’ necks. They usually appear awkward and in strained positions. This problem can sometimes bleed over into characters’ body positions as well. There are also odd looking facial expressions throughout the issue where mouths aren’t aligned properly on characters’ faces or they appear to be talking out of the side of their mouths.
Probably the worst is the depiction of Xena’s chakram. When it is first seen on the page it looks like a rock. You only realize it is her weapon once Medel shows it in her hands in a subsequent panel.
There were even mishaps with Nanjan Jamberi’s coloring. The most obvious is on the first page where in the last panel he removes the glow surrounding Gabrielle causing confusion as to whether or not it is part of the vision she is experiencing.
Finally, Xena’s iconic shout is not present at all in this first issue. While she doesn’t necessarily charge into battle at all, there was a moment where it could have been used. A comic with Xena should have her iconic yell!
Xena #1 is an extremely disappointing first outing. The story is jumbled and confusing. There isn’t any exposition to really provide any footing to ease into the story. The story feels contrived. The characters don’t feel natural; rather, they are just there. The artwork has plenty of flaws with odd neck positions and body language being the most noticeable. Your money is better spent elsewhere.
- Brief moments of levity showing a different side to the character
- Lack of exposition
- Poor artwork
- Valentine teases certain actions with her script then completely ignores them; it’s extremely frustrating