Willow Wilson and Erica Schultz (scripters), Noah Salonga (illustrator), Dinei Ribiero (colorer), Erica Schultz (letterer), Hannah Elder (editor)
May 27, 2015
(Note: This review contains some spoilers. WWAC reviewed Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade and Kato with an advanced review copy from Dynamite.)
Confusion abounds in Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade and Kato (from here on out referred to as M&K). Our villains have their firm motivations, and our heroines are being set against each other, although it appears from the opening of M&K, Masquerade was already in pursuit of Kato for different reasons.
But first, let me talk about that cover! Without a doubt, the M&K cover is my favorite of the SoS series so far. We have Masquerade’s smoking guns and distrustful glare toward Kato, Kato’s badass stance with elbow to the face of a bad guy, and neither woman in crouching tiger position. I feel the empowerment with these women, and I want to be them. Billy Tan has won my heart with this cover. Slow hand clap into standing rapid applause.
We start from Masquerade’s point of view, which is set off by a cute little red text box with half a mask. Saving Masquerade’s history for another article, I’ll focus on what we know about her just from this one-shot: she doesn’t age, fights crime, mind melds, can body snatch and control her host, and got stuck in something called Pandora’s Urn for seventy years. In M&K, she meets the Messenger, also called the Courier, and is given her own sword. Because Masquerade is a badass crime fighter and believes like everyone else that Kato is the minion to Green Hornet’s crime boss, she’s already hot on Kato’s tail.
Enter Kato, whose point of view is set off by a green text box. She’s quite busy chasing her car, affectionately known as Black Beauty, that she believes has been stolen. We met Kato in SoS #1, and she’s already got her sword hanging from her hip. What we know about Kato is that she doesn’t like other gals on her turf or on top of her car, and she tries to deny the existence of mystical powers even though she rides her car through a time rift in the side of a brick building.
Skip to a fantastically short sword fight between Masquerade and Kato, where Kato’s samurai skills far outmatch Masquerade’s, who is then forced to rely on her mind melding instead of just asking Kato what’s what. Kato calls her out on this, and I love her all the more for it. Now that they are reluctant friends, it’s time to get back Black Beauty, that has been possessed by Purgatori.
We don’t get to see the fight between Purgatori and Masquerade, which is a huge bummer. We just get an ejected Purgatori from the car and Masquerade’s bleeding lip. Also, I’m slightly disappointed in the Avengers-style turn them on each other so they don’t notice the big picture story line, but I’m not allowing any of my nitpicks to slow down my excitement for this one shot or the entire series.
Masquerade is an idealist or even an optimist as opposed to Kato’s realist, sometimes pessimistic, personality. They are a great match, and this is shown in their quick-witted verbal jabs, which add a touch of humor to otherwise serious characters. Masquerade refers to Kato as a sidekick, and Kato remarks on Masquerade’s “big stupid hat.”
I’ve enjoyed all the art in the SoS series so far, and the team of artists do not disappoint in this issue. My favorite panels are the close ups of Purgatori’s and Masquerade’s faces. The reds are very appealing with the dark backgrounds.
I chose to review Masquerade and Kato for the SoS event because I love ninjas, and Kato is a familiar name, but I’m very glad to be introduced to Masquerade and her ability to take control of others. And mind melding is always a plus. I’m hoping she gets to use this in a big way when all our main heroines meet up in the continuing series.
There is a large cast of characters in the world of SoS, and I appreciate the ability to take side trips like this one into the characters’ backstories while building them into the main story. I do wish we got a full few pages on Masquerade like we did with Jennifer Blood in Sword of Sorrows: Vampirella and Jennifer Blood, but I can see how the latter character’s story has more time to develop with four issues instead of just a one shot. Since I lean more toward enjoying a touch of humor between characters, I’m hoping all our heroines get a chance to show off the same wit and camaraderie as Masquerade and Kato.
Bring on more girl power. I’m ready!