Synopsis: Xena the warrior princess and Gabrielle have been separated. Now Augustus Caesar’s captive, Gabrielle must make a difficult choice. Does she submit to Caesar’s request and become the Bard of Rome? Or does she rely on Xena to formulate a plan to reunite the pair? Meanwhile, Xena and her companions are forced to fight one another in the dreaded coliseum.
Review: As a fan of the television series Xena, it is good to see these beloved characters on new adventures thanks to Dynamite. The characters seem spot on with their TV counterparts. Gabrielle has been plagued with visions of Xena’s death, and she has left her companion to prevent this from happening. However, things go awry when Augustus Caesar wants Gabrielle to become the bard of Rome. His plan is to use Gabrielle’s skills as a storyteller to be his propaganda piece for his campaign to expand the roman empire. This offer is a veiled demand, and although Gabrielle is treated well, she is ostensibly a prisoner in Caesar’s court. Seeing Gabrielle, who often is relegated to the role of sidekick, as a character that Augustus himself values is great. It highlights the importance of the character.
Xena appears in an attempt to rescue her beloved companion, but she must survive a death match in the coliseum. The warrior princess and a band of female warriors are attempting to free Gabrielle from the emperor’s grasp, yet the women must fight amongst themselves. The battle begins, and the warriors fight until they can turn the tide. Even though they do manage a small victory, it only brings Xena and her gang to another stalemate. This is where the story gets a bit difficult to follow.
How is this supposed to free Gabrielle? Is there a plan to escape once Gabrielle is secured? These are some of the questions that begin to form during this issue. The goal is clear: save the girl. Yet the path to this goal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Add to this the surprise appearance of the ex god of war, Ares, and the confusion grows. Genevieve Valentine has a firm hand at bringing the voices of Xena and Gabrielle to life, but this issue gets bogged down by all of the moving parts to free our imperiled bard.
The art for Xena #6 comes off as uneven at times. The pastiche of Gabrielle in the beginning of the issue seamlessly capture her plight. Right away we get what is going on, and everyone is brought up to speed. The problem becomes that the art is just as hard to follow as the plot in places. The arena match where Xena does battle is disjointed in some panels. On the other hand, there are panels in that same fight sequence where the warrior princess looks powerful and at her best. Part of the problem may be the coloring. Caesar’s imperial garments, for example, seem out of place and a bit washed out and thus distracting.
Xena Warrior Princess #6 has a lot of good things going for it. The writing of our two main characters is so strong that you can hear the actresses reading the lines in your mind. The art, in places, conveys the sense of majesty and might that fans remember about the television series even after all these years. Yes, there are issues with the plot and art in certain places, but the good still outweighs the bad of this installment.