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Galloping in with glinting steel and finely honed heroism, Dark Horse Comics is getting serious in its fall releases with a new fantasy adventure titled Crone, an offering to the comic gods sure to stir the blood of Conan the Barbarian and Xena: Warrior Princess fans of all ages — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of the debut issue to share alongside comments from the creative crew.
Written by SYFY WIRE contributing editor Dennis Culver (Burnouts, E Is for Extinction) and matched with rousing artwork by Justin Greenwood (Stumptown, The Last Siege), Crone #1 arrives on Nov. 6 and operates within the great legacy of sword and sorcery sagas, yet strikes out into intriguing territory by exploring the notions of life's regrets, allegiance to one's destiny, and the ever-present specter of death.
The plot chronicles the violent life of The Sword Saviour and Champion of Men, a ferocious female warrior once widely known as Bloody Bliss, who's now nothing more than a reclusive old woman in exile. As the kingdom's fateful skies darken, she's reluctantly drawn back into the fray by former friends and attempts to answer the call for high adventure.
Illuminated by evocative colors from Brad Simpson (The Witcher: Curse of Crows, The Last Siege) and letters courtesy of Pat Brosseau (Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, Sweet Tooth), Crone is an absorbing meditation on a life well lived and the consequences of taking up her notorious blade Mordenstorm for one final crusade against a cruel nemesis named D'Kayde.
Greenwood recalls Culver describing Bliss and the idea for Crone a couple years back and immediately connected with the narrative.
"I think I have a soft spot for stories that touch on themes of loss and redemption," he tells SYFY WIRE. "When the story picks up with Bliss she is at a pivotal turning point in her life, an old warrior who has long given up the sword and isn’t sure there is anything left. She is as rocky and cold as the mountain she lives on, but you can still feel that smoldering fire inside her. I love this kind of a character, and drawing her story of resurrection has been a lot of fun."
Dark Horse's Crone features a very specific design aesthetic, and the finished product is an arresting fusion of words, pencils, inks, coloring, logo, and letters.
"Having drawn comics myself, I tend to approach writing them from a very visual place, and I think in that regard Justin and I speak the same language when it comes to storytelling," Culver explains. "Because of that we hit the ground running when we started developing the book and had a lot of clarity about what we wanted once it was time to execute. I'm excited for people to read this book. There's nothing else out there like this right now."
Beginning with Crone #2, artist Ramon Villalobos joins the creative team in an exclusive print-only backup story, Romero Muerte, written by Culver, with letters by Christy Sawyer. It's a post-apocalyptic revenge tale set along the U.S./Mexico border where Romero Muerte relentlessly hunts down the Seven Deadly Sons and their mysterious father.
"Crone has such a classic feel that I think the audience is really broad," Greenwood adds. "Fantasy is an awesome genre and a perfect setting for this tale, but this kind of story of redemption and vengeance exists in nearly all cultures and histories for a good reason."
Culver admits that their book is simply pure comics fun.
"If you love comics you're gonna enjoy this one for Justin's art alone," he notes. "He's crushing it on each and every page."
Now saddle up and ride into our special seven-page peek at Crone #1 in the full gallery below.