Even Jacobs own people, who are described as being NOT barbarians, seem to be suffering from a dreadful force of some kind, an affliction of blood. In a rather dark but intriguing scene we discover why Jacob has left his home, being forced into combat with his own father. Then, just like that we are back in the present and are introduced to a woman who seems likely to be Jacob’s constant companion throughout this unfolding story. Whether this wizard, named Shanar, truly means well for Jacob is open to debate. I certainly was left with the sense that she was not telling young Jacob everything. Regardless her introduction does serve to inform the reader of some more grandious lore behind the Diablo universe, the Crystal Arch. First discussed in the Book of Cain, this artifact of perfect beauty resides in the High Heavens and resonates with a song that not only brings Angels into being but also somehow can shape the paths of humans. Again I was highly intrigued and can’t wait to find out more.
But before we can find out more Jacob’s past catches up with him and his pursuant countrymen attack. It seems they too possess this strange affliction of blood that drives them to act like wild beasts more than civilized men. Jacob takes up the Sword of Justice to defend himself but is reluctant to kill any of his attackers and ends up being captured and forced to witness more of his countrymen’s depravity. Luckily he is rescued by Shanar and the chase continues. I particularly appreciated the blast from the past as Jacob and Shanar flee through the black marsh, stumbling upon the ruins of the Forgotten Tower (of Diablo 2 fame). In typical comic book cliff hanger fashion, the final page introduces us to a new unforeseen foe. I guess we’ll have to wait for the next issue to find out more.
Aside from a decently interesting storyline both issues feature an art style that does a great job of evoking a sense of the menacing dark tones that make the Diablo franchise what it is. The angular and brusque line art of Joseph Lacroix and the very Diablo-ish color palette employed by Dave Stewart somehow stand set apart from Blizzard’s usual artistic style yet still manage to feel very Diablo. Both artists also did a fantastic job of portraying the infiltration of the sinister affliction of the Barbarians upon the men of the north, and left me wanting to know more.
If issues one and two are any indication, I think “The Sword of Justice” series will be both a highly entertaining read and also a great medium for advancing the lore of the Diablo franchise. So on both counts I applaud Blizzard and DC Comics. My only worry is that with only 3 more issues it seems like there is a lot of ground to cover to bring this story to completion. Of course who is to say that the story of Tyrael’s sword will end with this comic series? There is after all some upcoming web fiction; promised to the community in D3DB’s interview in December with Micky Neilson (a Senior Writer at Blizzard), who as it happens also had a hand in the Sword of Justice series. And of course there is always the impending release date announcement of a certain video game that is sure to be chalk full of lore goodies. I will not be surprised at all to see references to the Sword of Justice as we play through Diablo 3. But for now, we will just have to wait for another issue, left with a foreboding verse to tide us over and leave us wondering: