writer: delilah s. dawson
artist: matias basla
colourist: rebecca nalty
letterer: jim campbell
target audience: young adult
content warnings: violence, blood, killing
my rating: recommended
i received an earc of this from the publisher, via netgalley. this does not influence my thoughts or opinions.
sparrowhawk is a five issue limited series, first published by boom! studios in october 2018 to march of this year. the complete collected edition is scheduled for release august 14th. it follows artemisia, the illegitimate daughter of a naval captain in the mid 1800’s, after she is unwillingly taken to faerie. now she must do whatever it takes to get back to her world before the unseelie queen can destroy it. boom! studios is my favourite comics publisher, so when i saw that they were doing a dark fantasy about a human girl who has to fight her way through the twisted world of faerie, racing against time to get back and save her own world, i just had to jump on it. the covers were beautiful, the premise sounded promising, and i was ready for some action.
this is a fast – and well – paced comic, which makes sense. the main character did not have time to slow down and take a breather as she was making her way through the faerie realm. i read the whole collection in one sitting, because there was just always something happening that made me continue reading. there’s action and adventure throughout the whole series, so it never gets boring.
i really enjoyed artemisia’s character. she is adventurous and headstrong, and does not like compromising her morals. as the story goes on, though, her actions in faerie influence her more and more, and she becomes an interesting look at what one would do to save the ones they love. her transformation throughout the story is very gradual – both physically and mentally – and it’s one of my favourite aspects of the comic.
the art was also something i really liked. it doesn’t look anything like the cover, but it’s somehow simple and detailed at the same time. it’s really well coloured, making it fit perfectly with the moods of different settings. but my favourite visual part of the comic is the lettering. it uses different fonts, and sometimes colours, depending on what kind of creature from faerie is speaking. it really helped make the world seem even more alien than it already is, and it emphasised how different the monsters’ voices are from out human ones.
the one big complaint i have is an aspect of how artemisia’s physical transformation throughout the comic was portrayed. she is a light skinned black character, but as she journeys through faerie and becomes more and more ruthless, more and more like one of the unseelie, her skin gets darker and darker. now, her appearance changes in many other ways as well, so it’s very possible that she’s not even supposed to have “normal” skin like a human anymore, and that they didn’t make that connection. i don’t think that the colourist, or whoever else was involved in the decision, consciously wanted to equate darker skin with being inhuman. actual impact trumps intent, though, and this isn’t a good look.
so, as a whole i did enjoy sparrowhawk. it was haunting, engaging, and atmospheric. it takes a look at how far someone is willing to go, and how someone’s surroundings can impact their ethical thinking and decision making. it’s full of really cool visulas of the world of faerie, and i love how the unseelie were designed. i would recommend you try this comic out if you like faerie stories with morally grey characters, but do be sure you can read it despite the negative racial connotations. your wellbeing always comes first.