Singles issues 0-4 (complete arc)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Written and lettered by Steve Horton
Art and colour by Michael Dialynas

Some time last year I received an email from Lida Tsene one of the organisers of the Comicdom Con in Athens, saying that Michael Dialynas would probably be a good guest for the Malta Comic Con 2013. She was wrong! Michael turned out to be an awesome guest, a very talented creator and a fine fellow to boost. Back than I didn’t know this, but one thing I knew was that Amala’s Blade was a comic I wanted to get my hands on.

This five issue mini series is set in the fictitious land of Naamaron a large island divided by two main factions who are constantly on the verge of war. On the one side there are the Purifiers; who live a simple life built around steam-powered mechanics and on the other the Modifiers; who constantly crave technology and as their name implies, alter their bodies with technological implants. In this setting we follow the titular character who years ago ran away from her destiny and is now a kick ass mercenary assassin. Besides her sword wielding prowess Amala is also blessed or cursed with the ability to communicate with the ghosts of those who fell by her blade, which include the much loved monkey. Essentially this sci-fi/steampunk action packed adventure is a beautifully told, coming of age story peppered with violence and contrastingly humorous interludes.

Maybe it’s part of the process of becoming an old fart, but lately I’ve noticed that my tolerance for slow paced creative vessels has severely diminished but luckily Steve Horton is my type of writer; and he doesn’t beat round the bush. From its explosive introduction right to its fiery ending this book is fast and furious, yet beneath all the action lies a solid, heart warming satisfying story. Steve has an uncanny ability to give just enough information so the reader can comprehend and fully understands the fictitious world in which the story takes place and follow its progression without jeopardising the pace and excitement. Truly impressive! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future work by Steve.

Horton’s impressive storytelling skills are equally matched by artist Michael Dialynas. It is no secret that he’s one of my favourite comic creators, but anyone familiar with his work can easily understand why. He has a unique, distinct and well defined style that mixes cartoony elements with a more mature style. It’s hard to do justice to his stylish work but eye-catching would certainly be a good start. From the lavish backgrounds, to the detailed divergent traits of the two factions, to the clean, elegant flowing panelling right down to the superbly executed action sequences, everything in the artwork screams fascinating and really brings the story to life. The characters which are intriguingly laid out by Horton are fleshed out nicely by Dialynas. The colouring is soft and sinister and subtly varies according to the mood transitions.

Fresh, exciting, charming and thoroughly entertaining this is easily one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It’s one of those books that speak to the soul and I cannot recommend it enough. There are whispers that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Amala, the monkey and Naamaron, but until this is officially announced I’ll have to make do with buying the recently released trade (Amala’s Blade Spirits of Naamaron) to satisfy my craving!

Reviewed for Wicked Comics by
Chris Le Galle

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