Heroes & Villains – The Witcher: Fading Memories, X Of Swords

This week is (American) Thanksgiving and I’ve seen others make the point online that it’s fitting that Americans will be traveling great distances to spread disease. It’s really on-brand for the holiday. For one, I’ll be thankful if my mother doesn’t ask during dinner what I’m thankful for. That’s a big ask.

If you’re reading this column then we can both agree that we’re all thankful for comics. If you just got here…welcome. This is a space where I write about comics on the weekly as well as try to exorcise and exercise my demons.

Let’s see what’s on the shelves this week!

The Witcher: Fading Memories #1
Bartosz Sztybor (W)
Amad Mir & Hamid Sheykh (A)
Dark Horse Comics

Cast your mind back to December 2019… I know it seems like ages ago but things were kind of okay. The Witcher tv show had just dropped on Netflix (with that banger of a song) and I was just finishing up the DLC for The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt on PS4. I’m a Johnny Come-Lately to a great many things and the game had been out for at least four years by the time I finally got around to playing it. I should also mention that I had a friend pestering me to play it for two years before I finally relented.

I had tried to dodge the issue by claiming not to be into the Fantasy genre or that RPGs were too complex for me as a casual gamer, but I could only make excuses for so long. The game is a masterpiece and arguably one of the best games of the (now previous) console generation. The story of the game is what I connected most with as I found it completely engrossing and the graphics, gameplay, and voice acting was all top shelf. This was all in no small part due to the efforts of the game’s developer CD Projekt Red.

The Witcher: Fading Memories feels like a natural offshoot from CD Projekt Red’s games (it doesn’t hurt that Sztybor who penned this issue is a Narrative Manager with them). It’s also entirely safe to say that if you’re a fan of the games, you’ll really dig the first issue of Fading Memories…the story as it unfolds in this issue feels like it could easily be an adaptation of a quest you my not have gotten to yet in the game (on a personal note, I logged over 100 hours on the PS4 version and still didn’t get to everything. I also bought it for the Nintendo Switch).

With all that being said, the book is also an excellent jumping on point if you only have a passing knowledge of The Witcher franchise. You don’t need to worry about having read the novels, logged dozens of hours on the video game, or even watched the Netflix series to enjoy the book.

X of Swords Concludes
Various (W/A)
Marvel Comics

The final three chapters of the sprawling twenty-two part X-epic X of Swords drop today so it’s time to find out if they stuck the landing in the first major crossover of the new era of X-Men books. So…did they?

Yes, yes they did.

Initially, I had balked at having to add a bunch of extra titles to my pull list to get a “complete” story but in the end I’m glad I picked up each individual chapter. Not only because I would have been completely lost with out them, but they all added something to the overall narrative. That being said, each issue was not a slam dunk, home run or some other sports term I may not be using properly. Some parts were weaker than others, feeling slightly out of step with others.

This may be in part to the normal flavor of each book seeping through as the individual writers put their stamp on the crossover. However, I didn’t get much of sense of what the books are like normally to spark my interest in picking them up outside of the crossover…and that’s okay. For lack of a better term the “middle” section of the crossover seemed to “zig” when I expected it to “zag”. Going in, I expected to read issue upon issue of duels between the various champions of Krakoa and their opposition. What I got was…not that.

I endeavored to roll with the story as best I could and was pleased at how everything turned out. The last three chapters include some epic superhero speeches, high mutant drama, and some big action scenes that would not be out of place in the MCU. Mercifully, I didn’t get the old Marvel “THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING” vibe from the coda to the story but, yes, there are some changes. The changes feel more like a progression of the narrative rather than a cheap event comic from my youth.

X of Swords will for sure be a crossover I’ll being looking to revisit once it arrives in a collected edition and I feel that it’s a worthy entry into the pantheon of X-Men crossovers.

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