Sword Quest #3
Written by: Chad Bowers and Chris Sims
Art by: Ghostwriter X
Colors by: Chris O’Halloran
Published by: Dynamite Comics
Previously on Swordquest:
Peter Case has 6 months to live, and has decided to use that time to commit a heist, going to steal the prize from a gaming contest that never happened: a battle over Atari’s unreleased Airworld, which would have won the champion a real jewel-encrusted sword. He’s partnered by two awkward childhood friends, who are now equally awkward adults, along with Terry Kimura, a mysterious man who claims that everything in the games; the mythology of the stories and the comics, is all real. The vile villain Conjuros is attempting to break into the real world, but Terry claims that he already has. Conrad Juros, one of the key developers of Swordquest, is that very same evil wizard.
After briefly being held up at the airport due to a bandoleer of burner cell phones, Peter Case and his crew make it to the Retro Gaming Expo in Los Angeles, three days before the con begins. They make it over to Conjure Software, and Peter heads the request to meet with Conrad Juros himself, on the whim of claiming they want to see, “The Dark Arcade”. Peter doesn’t know what that actually is, just that it sounded right, and Terry tells all of them that it was the sword sight, revealing the true path what they needed to say. Apparently this works, as Juros meets with them, and seems very familiar with the conspiracies of him being a dark wizard. Having even collected information on a file the FBI had on him during the satanic Witch Hunt days of the 80’s, he’s well-tempered as he introduces them to the reality that is the Dark Arcade. The arcade is his own personal collection of unreleased and failed video games from years passed, including the one and only prototype of Airworld. An Incredibly advanced work for its time, it was a randomized experience that Juros is well confident has bested in Peter, who returns from his experience with the game after only a few minutes. Leaving Juros’s company, Peter reveals to his crew that not only did he beat the game, but it went out exactly like Terry predicted. A confiscated copy of the unpublished Airworld comic tying in to the game revealed the exact order the puzzles will be randomized in; this is clearly impossible Terry and the rest admit, unless everything Terry believed has in fact, been true. The book ends with Juros revealing to his crew that Peter was able to completely best the game in a matter of moments, and dons his evil robe commanding his now equally costumed room of minions to take on a new project, announcing that Peter Case Must Die!
Reed Strong’s Strong Read:
This book continues to be one of the most artfully ambitious and fulfilling projects that Sims and Bowers have done to date, including the absolutely jam-packed 9 panel grids painting the pages of the book by Ghost Writer X. Peter is a tragic lead who still has his comedic and really humanizing moments, bringing himself to a definition that’s beyond his childhood, simply a nostalgic passion that many of us can empathize with in a very real way. It’s a comic book about comic books and video games, mixing together this fictional mythology with the world that indeed does look very real. The art helps the pacing of the jokes in a way that allows the real type of beats actors would have to readout loud, but the whole book has a way of presenting itself that lets its dialogue and messages reveal themselves in its own distinct flow. Each scene makes its case for why its there and what it has to contribute to the story, and the underlying wit Sims and Powers are known for always knows when to run the show, and when to let the pathos have its time in the spotlight. It’s an ambitious book with a lot of hearts and charm, as well as truly intriguing and important questions about the reality it takes place in. If you had 6 months to live, really, wouldn’t you want to plan a heist?
Final Score: 8/10