In Review: Xena: Warrior Princess #3

This reads like a classic Xena episode: a caper, thrills, and the return of a famous character.

The covers: Two covers to track down this time; both by the same fantastic artist, Jenny Frison. The A cover has Xena wearing a toga and bearing a sword, stopping at a temple and looking up at the gigantic statue behind her: it’s in her image. The statue is starting to crumble from its age, but it’s easily recognizable as the warrior princess. Xena does not look too happy looking at her larger self. Excellent image and great coloring, with pale violets to create shaded areas, rather than blacks and blues, and that gives this illustration a living, healthy quality. The B cover is the “virgin art” cover; it’s exactly the same as the A cover, just minus all the text at the top. If one is a fan of Frison — and why wouldn’t one be? — this is the one to get. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Xena and Gabrielle, accompanied by their new allies, are in Croesus’s Palace, which is “the best gambling house for a hundred leagues.” They’re there to kidnap General Gaius Valerius, whose luck runs out tonight. Writer Genevieve Valentine goes back a bit in time showing the women entering the establishment. Xena says they should split up, after all “it draws less attention if we separate.” As they go further in there’s an incredibly funny corner of a room that she and Gabby see. Before they encounter their prey, things are changing at the warlord’s camp, with one person forcing a decision. This reads like a classic episode of the television series, with the heroines undercover on a con, all that was missing was Autolycus; however there is an incredibly popular character who rears his head on Page 16 which left me screaming with joy. Whenever this character appears, bad things happen, so Xena and her friends are soon to be involved in a major fracas. Before he appears, though, there is some enjoyable dialogue between undercover Xena and undercover Gabby in front of Valerius. To remind readers of Gabrielle’s knowledge of possible future events, Page 11 shows another prophetic vision. A major event occurs to change the direction of the women and the ending of this issue is the call to action. This story captures all the joy and excitement of a missing episode and has me eagerly awaiting the next issue. Overall grade: A

The art: Ariel Medel is hitting some strong notes with this book’s visuals. The first page is comprised of seven equally sized horizontal panels that showcase all the major players of this issue and two panels that focus on the gambling. I enjoy seeing characters highlighted like this, mirroring a camera quickly shifting among all the cast. Pages 2 and 3 is a double-page spread showing the women entering the gambling hall. Medel needs to establish the location, but does so to the detriment of the heroines: the reader is too far from the leads, the hall doesn’t seem as crowded as it should be, and the top quarter of the third page is wasted in darkness. Pulling in closer to the women and shifting the point of view to look down upon them would have helped this illustration. Things are much better on the following pages with some nice panels containing conversations, with one being particularly funny given how Medel draws it. The bigger laugh comes on 5 with something that would be unsurprising at a comic book convention, but is wholly out of place in the Xenaverse. Pages 8 and 9 show the game that’s being gambled upon, but it’s too empty; yes, there are six panels inserted into this double-paged spread, but all they do is highlight the emptiness of the larger image. The same format is used on 18 and this works much better. Things become consistent once the hooded character intrudes on the scene, with him looking very imposing, and his reveal on 16 outstanding — my heart leapt at seeing this character who was instantly recognizable. The final image of the book is a great hero shot of the protagonists and will rev the reader’s heart for thirty days waiting to see how this plays out. Overall grade: B

The colors: In the world of Xena, the colors are pretty much earth tones; it’s set in ancient times, so the colors aren’t expected to be too varied. Wisely, Nanjan Jamberi plays with these colors and includes others to create a very varied look to Xena. The first page has Jamberi using dark colors for the background of the palace to make other colors brighter, such as Gabby’s hair, Gaius’s cape, and the skin colors of the characters. Placing Xena in a red colored dress makes her the instant focus on a page, reminding the reader of where she is as well as her dominance. Gabby stands out in an off-blue dress and the other members of their crew all have an element in their ensemble that makes them stand out. Gabrielle’s vision has a nice eerie tint to make is seem otherworldly. When the hooded character comes to the forefront, the coloring on all the characters’ skin really is exceptional, giving them a three dimensional look. Every page is a winning one if Jamberi is coloring it. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration and scene setting, dialogue, character identification, off panel character dialogue, sounds, and the tease for next issue are all created by stellar Rob Steen. The opening narration and scene settings are gorgeous. Using that particular font for the opening really brings the reader into the ancient time period. The off panel character dialogue is done in italics, showing it to be different from the other dialogue on the page; it’s rare to see a letterer do this and it shows Steen to be the professional that he is. The closing tease also has an incredibly unique font that really hypes up the reader for the next installment in the story. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This reads like a classic Xena episode: a caper, thrills, and the return of a famous character. This is a joy to read. Overall grade: A-

To order the comic book adventures of Xena: Warrior Princess go to


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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