REVIEW: ‘ Xena: Warrior Princess,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The first costume that I remember was my Xena one, hand-sewn by my aunt, all I wanted to be that year was princess, and a warrior one at that. For life-long fans like me Xena: Warrior Princess #1 is perfect. Published by Dynamite Comics, written by Vita Ayala, with art from Olympia Sweetman, colors by Rebecca Nalty, and letters from Ariana Maher, this new series throws Xena and her companion Gabrielle straight into an adventure.

The comic opens with the phrase: “In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings…a land in turmoil called out for a hero. She was XENA, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle.” Lettered on papyrus scrolls throughout the opening, with dialogue adding the to the fight scene, I immediately heard the narrator from the 1990s television show.

In the opening pages of the comic we see Xena and Gabrielle saving travelers from marauders. In this quick action scene, Sweetman gives readers close-ups of the franchises iconic weapons, Xena’s sword and chakrum, and Gabrielle’s staff. Beyond that, the details on Xena’s armor itself is phenomenal as well. The art introduces us to the character’s fighting styles and easily sets the bar for the comic, action and adventure.

The opening itself is balanced enough to not over explain a character that has been for decades while also providing a jumping in point for new readers. But there is an other adventure to be had. When a man on the road comes looking for Hercules, the pair offer their help to protect his village’s children. Having super-strength and a petty goddess out for them, the kids need all the help they can get.

Xena: Warrior Princess #1 is a new series coming after other comic adaptations and the cult-classic television show, and yet, it feels fresh. While this number one keeps elements that ground the issue in a history, the art, color palette, and dialogue do well to be influenced by but not a copy of the other that came before it.

The action sequences are fun, with close-up impacts like the one above existing in both a slightly campy yet violent moment. The coloring is bright in the best ways. And ultimately the costumes being so faithful to the television show is nostalgic but not dated. Top all of it off with Ayala’s dialogue and you have the makings for a Dynamite title that will be a great read for audiences of any exposure level to the world of Xena. 

The only critique I have is on the coloring of impact blows. By coloring the impact in bright red, it was tough to distinguish if the battle was that brutal or if it was just a “kapow” moment. They were all the latter, and although the choice seemed odd, once I was used to it, I wasn’t too bothered.

Outside of the action, and the set up to an adventure against a goddess, there is a tenderness in the way Ayala writes Xena that I greatly appreciate. Her heart is on the outside already, not something that Gabrielle has to chip away at, and he care for the children shows Xena’s superhero nature. Her willingness to sacrifice herself and her conversations with Gabrielle in bed, round out a strong female character that has always inspired me.

Overall, Xena: Warrior Princess #1  was a great first issue that ends with a cliffhanger that has me ready for the next issue.

Xena: Warrior Princess #1 is available now.

Xena: Warrior Princess #1
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, Xena: Warrior Princess #1  was a great first issue that ends with a cliffhanger that has me ready for the next issue.