Uh. Real heavy spoilers. Below. Like, real heavy.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Ashe, Grena and her bloodsworn are ambushed by the Draklorn and his army (?), Lissandra's inquisitors from Frostguard Citadel. Grenda, Yrael, and 2 other bloodsworn die so Ashe and some others could escape. Grena in particular is cut down by the Draklorn himself. Ashe decides instead of heading back to the tribe that she will finish her mother's quest and find the Throne of Avarosa. When she gets there, there's nothing but a cairn (a pile of rocks for a grave). The Draklorn approaches as Ashe is trying to find a weapon and it's revealed its...
DUM DUM DUM...
He has a yandere-like obsession with Ashe and was trying to protect Ashe from the Frostguard who didn't want anyone finding the place Ashe is at. Ashe succeeds in pulling out a bow, hair turns white, and she kills Maalcrom and his goons. Then it ends with her wandering off into the sunrise.
Next issue is **The Winter's Claw**.
**My thoughts (THE GOOD)**
So again, the art is 5 stars.
I really liked how Avarosa's throne is revealed to be a battlefield frozen. At first you think it's a simple grave and a pile of rocks but it was neat. A lot of League World building has concept art and descriptions in short stories but when a location is brought out by a narrative + art, it really makes the setting more impactful/interesting/cooler.
I liked the worldbuilding. "My eyes are open" is a Freljord way of saying "I'm not afraid to die" and a neat reference to ~~Ashe's~~ WARCRAFT 3 FARSEER'S voice lines. I thought it sounded familar...
I liked that Ashe's leadership abilities are hinted at when she directs their escape and orders her mother's bloodsworn to die to buy time. I also like that she chooses to finish her mother's quest to find the throne.
**My thoughts (THE MEH)**
Nothing was extremely groundbreaking bad. I felt some of it was... contrived?
There's an exposition line where Ashe literal goes "I know why the Draklorn are after me! They want me and my mother dead!" and that's true, but the Draklorn never said anything other than Ashe literally going "I just have a feeling"
> "Somehow I knew the Draklorn's thoughts. It wanted not just my mother's death-- It wanted mine. And all of my kin."
I literally facepalmed at this because it's one those instances of "well... I just have a feeeeeling" in movies/shows/books - those hunches/instincts - that turn out to be right with no real reason other than *shrug* just because.
There's another instance where I had to stop and reread because the Draklorn army is pretty large but then Ashe mentions:
> As the Draklorn's magic waned, his numbers fell.
Because at the end Maalcrom only confronts Ashe with 2 goons. I was wondering whether this meant the Draklorn has some warmth aura to keep everyone sustained or fed or...something? It felt a bit contrived so Ashe wasn't taking on an army in the final confrontation but a more manageable number of goons.
I would have bought it better if Maalcom just dismissed most of his army off the bat, Ashe assumes the main army is chasing her tribe, and the Draklorn and his goons are chasing after Ashe personally. Instead now I'm left wondering what magic has to do with it and how when his magic wanes, so does the numbers.
And then there's Maalcom.
I liked the reveal that Maalcrom is a traitor. I like the reveal that Maalcrom was secretly in love with Ashe. I like the reveal that Maalcrom protected Ashe and her mother from the Frostguard for trying to get too close to Avarosa's throne...
... what I don't like is how obvious a bad guy Maalcrom is.
Maalcrom is presented as having a disturbing obsession with Ashe, calling her "my love" and other yandere stuff. This is something I've seen in a lot of shows where the comic presents Ashe killing Maalcrom as the 'right' decision - so right in fact any other alternative is not considered.
> Ashe: I had no choice, Officer! He wanted to kill me!
> Officer Caitlyn: Self-defense it is.
Honestly, it reminded me of a lot of YA novels with love triangles and instead of the protagonist making a choice between 2 possible love interests (Maalcrom/Tryndamere down the line), let's just kill one of them and save the heroine the agony of a difficult decision.
I think, personally, it would have been more powerful if Maalcrom was presented as reasonable and not obsessed/in love with Ashe. If he explains he only had to kill Grena and he would let Ashe live so long as she never came back to the place and then Ashe _chooses_ to kill Maalcrom, it gves Ashe more character as to the kind of decisions she makes. If Maalcrom was presented as a decent person, someone who felt he had to do his duty to the Frostguard but also minimize loss of life (instead of 'omg I luv you, Ashe! why won't you luv me back!') then it makes his death feel more impactful because Ashe made the conscious decision to kill him and spit on his offer to peace (like a certain other Warmother will eventually do). This lets Ashe realize how stupid it all is, how vengeance consumed her and she then grows from there, yada yada yada....
Right now, it feels like a waste of characters.
Also several named character died straight up this issue (Maalcrom, Yreal, Grena) and others (Aunt Helnr) are implied to be trouble. Now that I think about it, Aunt Helnr is the only OC character from the comic without a confirmed death...
This comic continues in the proud League tradition of making a lot of interesting side characters dead.
Next Issue is **The Winter's Claw**
I guess we're seeing Sejuani next issue. Since Ashe's bio update (which I felt was too early that it's a mistake) we have a good idea of what happens. We might find out why Sejuani's grandmohter and Ashe's mother have beef. We will probably see the beginning of Sejuani/Ashe's rivalry, friendship and feud. But we also know Ashe will most likely not rejoin her tribe and keep travelling until she decides to kick it up as Warmother again.
I'm hoping Sejuani's origin has some parallels or contrasts with Ashe's. If Ashe found Avarosa's bow, then I'd be interested in seeing how Sejuani's legend rises. While Ashe is something of a religious icon, Sejuani could be something of more traditional 'hero'/greatest warrior of her time/sort of deal.