Sword Master #4
• LIN LIE delves 5000 years into the past to uncover the legendary origins of his magic sword -- and finally discovers his connection to the mysterious huntress JI SHUANG SHUANG!
• Meanwhile, in our second story, SHANG-CHI faces a teacher's greatest nightmare. Can he trust Lin Lie in the fight against ARES, GOD OF WAR -- or must Shang-Chi wield the black sword himself?
The first story in Sword Master #4 that acts as the book’s primary narrative is a full fledged origin story, but not that of Lin Lie. Instead, we dive into the God-forged weapons, their purpose, and what it means for Lin Lie’s journey ahead of him.
Sword Master from Shuizhu and Gunji has proven to be a remarkably well told story, making use of the comics medium with anime and manga influences to create a stunning series that feels wholly original. Though the majority of the story in this issue takes place long ago, it’s such a critical moment that you can’t help but be absorbed into it. The creation of the three different weapons to stop Chiyou, the God of War, is a brilliantly colored spectacle that instantly opens new doors for the story going forward.
The insight into the world building behind this series is ultimately the most rewarding aspect of Sword Master #4. We get so much lore packed into the pages that by the end, it’s difficult not to feel completely caught up to speed and that is exactly what was needed at this point in the story. The pacing remains enjoyable, moving just fast enough to keep you engaged without forgetting important details. Lin Lie realizing that it could have been his own father who set loose the army of Chiyou is one of the moments that shows this is a fully realized story with an established direction.
Sword Master has always felt remarkably focused in its narrative, so it’s nice to see this issue continue that trend and give readers the impression that the story is worthwhile without dragging on through one dialogue filled panel after another. It’s a great blend of powerful visuals and solid storytelling that, while may not be for everyone, is certainly an entertaining series that shows the potential of what Marvel could offer.
Ultimately, the story from Shuizhu and Gunji remains the highlight of the book with an interesting origin and set up for what’s to come. It’s an example of quality execution all around, and I’m really excited to see the next step for Lin Lie.
As we transition to the additional story from Greg Pak, Fonda Lee, Ario Anindito and Rachelle Rosenberg, we once again find a more lighthearted and western appealing tale. The artwork isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s difficult not to compare them with the brilliant work in the story prior. It’s good enough to keep you invested without distracting, but it feels more like business as usual for Marvel.
While lighthearted might not be the best word to describe the story featuring a very different interpretation of the God of War, the amount of humor gives the impression that it is just not taking itself as seriously. I can definitely appreciate that approach, but it really just feels like something we’ve seen before unfortunately. The team up with Ares isn’t all that surprising, but hopefully what they have planned will kick things up a notch. The Gods of Madripoor look to be exactly what this story needs to really live up to the standards set by Shuizhu and Gunji’s work in this series, so that is certainly exciting.
Overall, Sword Master #4 continues to be an underrated book at Marvel, telling a captivating and original story that seems poised to only get better.
Sword Master #4 continues to be an underrated book at Marvel, telling a captivating and original story that seems poised to only get better.
Sword Master #4: What Makes Him So Worthy?
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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