Pictured: Cover C of Xena: Warrior Princess #4 by Paulina Ganucheau
If you had told me that I needed globe-trotting Xena in my life, I would have totally believed you and then promptly rushed to a comic store to pick up the series. Luckily, that’s just what we’re getting in Dynamite Comics‘ Xena: Warrior Princess. The series follows the mighty princess, forged in the heat of battle and even has a capybara or two in there too. Written by Vita Ayala, with art by Erica Durso, colors from Rebecca Nalty, and letters by Ariana Maher, Xena: Warrior Princess #4 follows our heroes Xena and Gabrielle while they move through another strange land with the exiled goddess Discord.
Last issue, we got a dose of Mesoamerican mythology as the trio found themselves teleported out of Greece by Zeus and into the jungle of the Mirador Basin – modern-day Petén, Guatemala. There the three attempted to steal a feather from the god Quetzalcoatl, a feathered snake god in Aztec mythology. Instead, they tricked the priest who tasked them with the quest and ultimately found themselves once again spirited away to another unknown land.
Xena: Warrior Princess #4 can’t be any more different from the jungles of Central America as now, they’re in the Russian Taiga. As they wander through the desolate and snow-covered forest, Gabrielle is injured and Discord is being, well, Discord. But when they see smoke in the distance they realize hope and a warm bed are in their grasp, even if it is a creepy hovel with an old witch living in it.
In this issue, we finally learn the thread that is weaving this story together – myth. Now, you’re probably saying, of course, myth is holding together a story about Xena, the mighty princess who lives in a time gods, warlords, and kings. But what Ayala crafts is a story that goes beyond the Greek, beyond the Christian, and instead is introducing myths that some may only know in passing or as a reference in the movie, if at all. From Mesoamerica to Russia, we are watching Xena interact with mythology in a totally different way. She is shaping it, and as Ayala expertly pens these interactions, you find yourself pulled into the story.
In Xena: Warrior Princess #4 the tale of a witch, turned monster, turned god, is powerful. Ayala is able to use their writing to artfully explain the importance of storytelling and how what we say, even in fable, crafts truth. This is a powerful statement and one that is necessary in understanding the importance of comic books and popular culture at large.
Beyond this, Ayala has written probably my favorite characterization of Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship. It’s cute, it’s loving, and it’s filled with small stolen kisses that do more to showcase their intimate bond than a full-on Faithless–style panel could. I hope to see their love explored more as the series goes on, but with such long-established girlfriends, it isn’t truly necessary, we just know they love each other.
Nalty’s colors are perfect, with the red backgrounds in the action sequences making the fighting dynamic, adding to Durso’s work. I had issues with some of the close-ups featured in the last issue, but I have to say almost every panel of Durso’s art is perfect in Xena: Warrior Princess #4. While the art in this issue looks very different than last, it works, specifically because the panels are imbued with more whimsy. Plus, the capybara, that is a beautiful baby, proves that adding a puppy to anything is always the right choice.
Overall, and I feel like I say this with every issue review, Xena: Warrior Princess #4 has me more in love with this iteration of the characters that I know and love. Beyond that, I am excited to see more myths being reimagined and interacted with, and since the trio has been teleported to yet another interesting place on the final page, I can’t wait to pick up issue number five.
Xena: Warrior Princess #4 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Xena: Warrior Princess #4
Xena: Warrior Princess #4 has me more in love with this iteration of the characters that I know and love. Beyond that, I am excited to see more myths being reimagined and interacted with, and since the trio has been teleported to yet another interesting place on the final page, I can’t wait to pick up issue number five.