The Story So Far:
Sparrowhawk #2 pick up right where Sparrowhawk #1 left off. Previously Artemesia, (who seems to prefer Art), was yanked through the looking glass by the Unseelie Queen. The Queen donned Art’s face and skin as well as her late sister’s wedding dress. Art was left abandoned and unprepared in the dark world of Faerie.
Art is not a fan of killing but that’s the way things are done in this realm. At least, that’s according to Crispin, an odd Wolpertinger looking creature who conned Art into trading her fondest memory for the truth. As issue one ended, Artemesia had just killed for the first time. In defense, she slew an Unseelie that attacked her. Upon his death, she’s gained a bit of fairy glamour – the magic that is power in the realm of Faerie. It’s not enough for her to get home… yet
From MAJK’s Coffee Corner:
We get to know a lot more about Art in this issue and we learn a bit about Crispin as well. Art’s got some pretty well defined moral beliefs. Crispin’s from what we have seen is morally gray. His view seems to be that killing other beings is necessary to gain more power. Power is required to survive here.
As Crispin presents it, Art doesn’t really have a choice but to kill. Is this truly the case?
Spoiler Warning: If you have not read Sparrowhawk #2 There WILL Be Spoilers Below
Publisher: Boom! Studios Writing: Delilah Dawson
Art: Matias Basla Cover: Miguel Mercado
Series Rating: 5/5 Pull List Material
For Their Own Good
As Art relieves herself of the extra weight and hassle of her bulky skirt, Crispin advises her that the rest of the Wild Hunt is soon to arrive. The last thing Art needs is a mob of pissed off Faerie creatures chasing her down. Heeding Crispin’s counsel she collects the heavy two-handed sword left by the dead Unseelie and follows Crispin through what looks every bit like a rabbit hole.
Scaling down an enormous tree to avoid the Wild Hunt, Art learns that Faerie is a violent place. Crispin tells her “Everything here wants to kill you and you should want to kill everything.” That starts an ideological argument between the two of them, which leads to Art revealing secrets she knows about her father and mother.
It also brings us to a very insightful discussion on colonization. While Crispin tries to spin wholesale slaughter as a community service, Art sees it for what it is – the arrogant belief that you know more about what is best for other people and cultures that you don’t understand.
Art Meets A Prince
Sparrowhawk #2 introduces us to the Unseelie Prince Warren, the pacifist son of the Unseelie Queen who trapped Art in this realm. It turns out that the Wild Hunt is all Warren’s siblings. Warren holds no malice toward Art for the killing his brother in self-defense. Warren points out how cruel his brothers have become from their repeated and constant killing. Art worries for her own better character and begins to sense there’s more to Crispin and his motives than she realized.
Warren lets Art in on the fact that Crispin is, in fact, and Unseelie thing. He was created by the Unseelie Queen herself.
Although Crispin tricked Art into their bond, Warren confirms that Crispin cannot lie to Art. Crispin promised he’d help her get home and now, due to the bond he must do just that. But Warren notes that it doesn’t stop Crispin from twisting the truth in an attempt to manipulate Art.
Predators Have Their Purpose
Part of what makes Sparrowhawk #2 so good is the way Art, Warren, and Crispin are an interesting study in contrasts. Warren is a complete pacifist but he’s not stupid. He sees alternatives to killing. Crispin is convinced that killing anything and everything is what Art must do to get home. Art falls somewhere between Warren and Crispin. She has a sense of justice, seeks not to harm an innocent, but she can’t stand by and watch cruelty without doing something. She certainly has no issue with killing in self-defense.
Nothing makes these differences plainer than the incident with the Grundlevar. The Grundlevar is big, slow, and not the brightest crayon in the box. He hunts brownies and butter faeries because that is what he eats. Art is horrified by that fact and Crispin, eager for Art to kill, bemoans the fate of the brownies and butter faeries.
Warren tries explaining that the Grundlevar is a predator. Nature designed him to eat brownies and butter faeries. Unfortunately, Art has something of a hero complex. She feels she must save the innocents that the beast is collecting for his supper.
Warren again tries to stop Art from killing, but Crispin yells for her to kill the Grundlevar and, in the commotion, the Grundlevar hears the shouts. In his rage, he seals his own fate. As brownies and butter faeries burst free from the corpse of the Grundlevar, Art explains that she doesn’t like killing but feels that she’s done some good. Warren cautions her:
“There are intricate forces at work between predators and prey. You are not of this place. You don’t understand.”
His words harken back to Art’s own statements to Crispin in the early part of Sparrowhawk #2. Warren might just be the conscience that Art needs to balance the advice of Crispin. He may be the very friend that prevents her from losing her soul.
Later, Art dreams of Warren and the Grundlevar’s grave. In the dream, Art confesses she feels that she now has a calling. Warren sadly nods and repeats that predators have their purpose.
Art & Writing
Sparrowhawk #2 brings us deeper into the story. Given the strength of the writing, I’m sad that this will only be 5 issues. The story has deepened, the pacing is excellent, and Artemesia is learning and evolving, not just from what she does but from those she meets in this world. Dawson’s world seems like it has so much more room for adventure. Who knows what may come after Sparrowhawk reaches issue five?
I’m here for the story she is telling but there is a sense that there is so much more in this world that she could tell us.
The art continues to a perfect visual enhancement to the depth of storytelling. Painting a gorgeous world that is equally wondrous and terrifying, Matias Basla and Rebecca Nalty have brought to life Faerie in an unexpected and exhilarating way.
The environment blends elements of Disney’s Alice In Wonderland and Jim Henson’s original Labyrinth. The exotic and strange forest and especially, the architecture set against manicured hedgerows say so much about this world without a single word. The quirky creatures like the brownies and butter faeries are enchanting in the simplicity of their design. Each creature we’ve met from Crispin to the Grundlevar has a very distinct quality, and unique expressions and manners.
MAJK’s Age Recommendation:
Tweens & Teens – 12+ years of age
Best Lines & Funny Moments
Best Line: Art: “So perhaps you can see why I don’t think it’s right or fair to go to someone else’s land and start killing things just because I think I’m doing a service.”
Why: Such a perfect and concise explanation of colonization. Art’s moral compass isn’t steering her wrong in this respect. The entire discussion that she and Crispin have around this is so relevant to our world today but Art doesn’t come across as preachy or self-righteous. She’s giving the readers a peek at what colonization looks like through the eyes of those who have been deemed savages/uncivilized.
Art: “It looks like a person.”
Crispin: “Ugh. People. You should definitely kill it.”
Why: Because we have all had those days when we feel a smidge like Crispin. I get the feeling that Crispin has either worked in customer service, tech support, or was once a retail employee during Black Friday shopping.
During the dream sequence, the scene shifts slightly and readers will recognize the scene from early in Sparrowhawk #1. Warren plays the part of someone once dear to Art but now forgotten, which leaves us wondering if those memories are really gone.
Next Issue: Sparrowhawk #3 will be on sale December 19 2018