Swordquest #1 begins in the Atari exhibit of a video game museum. In the opening panels of this new Dynamite comic, a sword is displayed prominently encased in glass. Fans will immediately recognize it as the “Sword of Ultimate Sorcery,” the ultimate prize in a five-round tournament. Each round corresponded with a new game in the Swordquest series, but Atari cancelled the series after the third game and the sword never found a home. If you’d like to read more about this mystery, check out the full story here.
In Chad Bowers and Chris Sims’ world, the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery appears to be sitting awaiting it’s champion. Peter Case is just such a champion, sort of.
Swordquest #1 Is a Throwback To Times Gone By
Case, a middle aged man who has lost his home and given six months to live (see Swordquest #0), is on the hunt for one last adventure. While digging through boxes in his childhood bedroom, Case remembers his early obsession with the 1980s Swordquest series. Case and his friends Amy and Alvin Perez had a fixation on solving the puzzles of the Atari games and corresponding DC comics in order to win the ultimate prize. They dutifully mailed in their answers and kept a notebook of strategies. However, when the series ended after the third game (Waterworld), the friends moved on with their lives. Now in their forties, these characters find themselves drawn back to the quest for both Sword and glory, in this charming 1980s nostalgia piece.
The art by Ghostwriter X echoes the pixelated style of Atari 2600 games. The best examples of this style include a Pac-Man-esque creature devouring Case in a moment of emotional confrontation and panels devoted to player “Game Tips.” The style and throwback design elements are a nod to the book’s concept that the Swordquest game never ended for Case and the Perez siblings. Bower and Sims’ characters are both players of, and characters in, Atari’s game.
Whether you played the original series or are just a fan of ‘80s nostalgia, this series is worth a read. Its combination of heartfelt throwbacks and genuine attention to the struggles of growing up makes this comic stand out.