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DC Comics recently released the second installment of Sword of Justice, their new five-part series set in the world of Diablo, Blizzard Entertainment’s hit ARPG.
Issue #2 picks up right where its predecessor left off. Jacob ends up killing his father in self-defense, but it seems as if the old man’s mind had been poisoned by some mysterious ailment. With his last breath, he warns Jacob not to touch his blood. Back in the present, Jacob is still in the mysterious cave he discovered in the previous issue, staring at a glimmering sword that protrudes from the ground.
Jacob pulls it free, much to the relief of the hooded woman who had been guarding it. She introduces herself as a wizard named Shanar, and unlike most comic book females, she is actually somewhat modestly clothed. No chainmail bikini for her! She delivers some exposition about the sword, but her spiel is cut short when thugs from Jacob’s homeland pay him a visit. Jacob is reluctant to see them killed, so he forces Shanar to pull her magical punches.
In a nice nod to Diablo III, Shanar fights with wizard spells that will appear in-game, such as Electrocute and Wave of Force. Of course no good deed goes unpunished, and Jacob is rewarded for his mercy by being knocked unconscious and taken prisoner. Thankfully, Shanar returns to Jacob’s side and helps him to escape his captors. But the bad guys prove to be persistent, and Shanar uses a teleportation spell to whisk herself and Jacob from their grasp.
They end up in the Black Marsh near the Forgotten Tower (two areas that will be familiar to players of Diablo II), but the issue’s last panel suggests that they might have exchanged the frying pan for the fire.
The first issue was understandably a bit heavy on the exposition, but scriptwriter Aaron Williams has toned it down in Issue #2. He has also done a nice job of incorporating some of the newer lore that has been developed for the Diablo universe. The bit about the Crystal Arch in the High Heavens fits in nicely with the Book of Cain.
And speaking of lore, it is interesting to note that Williams told IGN that he had originally planned to have a scene in the Forgotten Tower. He ended up dropping it because the Tower apparently shows up in Diablo III and he did not want to create continuity problems. If the Tower does indeed make a comeback in Diablo III, it would be nice if we actually got to see it; in Diablo II, we only saw the (rather expansive) basement!
Despite Williams’ obvious talent, there are some plot issues that left me scratching my head in confusion. Take the battle in the cave, for example. Jacob tells Shanar not to kill the thugs, which seems spectacularly unwise given the circumstances. His decision to show them mercy might have been more believable if he were trying to reason with them, but he makes no such attempt.
Instead, he fights in moody silence and refuses to deliver killing blows. But what does he hope to gain by holding back? Does he hope his enemies will just get frustrated and leave him alone? Perhaps Williams was trying to show Jacob as naive and good-hearted, but instead he comes dangerously close to being ‘Too Stupid To Live’.
Similarly, when Shanar helps Jacob escape after he is captured, it seems hard to believe that she would not attack the thugs while they were busy dismembering their dinner. They were totally distracted; it would be the perfect opportunity for Shanar to take them all out. At the very least, she and Jacob should have discussed some sort of counterattack. Instead, she and Jacob just run off into the woods. That sort of behavior seems to be dictated by plot necessity rather than logic.
Those matters aside, Issue #2 was an enjoyable read. Overall, the story remains compelling, and it will be interesting to see what else Williams has in store for Jacob and Shanar.