Swords of Sorrow: Lady Zorro & Black Sparrow Cooperating & Kicking Ass
Erica Schultz (scripter & letterer), Cristhian Zamora (illustrater), Salvatore Aiala Studio (colors), Joyce Chin (cover with colors by Ivan Nunes)
June 24, 2015
(Note: This review contains spoilers and is based on an advanced review from Dynamite.)
Ginnis: I’ve been really looking forward to the Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow one-shot. I don’t know a lot about these characters, but when I briefly researched them I thought they sounded fascinating, and their setting interesting. What about you? How did you feel going in?
Desiree: I knew nothing about these characters previously. I had heard of Lady Zorro but had never read anything about her. I remember the Zorro movie that starred Catherine Zeta-Jones who was the early ’90s, late 2000s Latina stand-in (even though she’s white), but that’s the most exposure I had to them as individual characters. After reading the one-shot however, I’m thoroughly intrigued. What drew me to them was the fact they were both Latina. So I went in with an open — if hopeful — mind. What did you, in particular, enjoy about the one-shot in regards to their characterization?
Ginnis: Well, I loved Catherine Zeta-Jones in 90s Zorro, and that whole aesthetic of the sexy, fiery Latina. Of course, I later realized what a freaking stereotype that is so I was VERY curious as to how this comic would approach that, but I felt like Black Sparrow and Lady Zorro had the feel of many of the other Swords of Sorrow characters–these sort of brawler lady types. I always dig that.
Desiree: I really enjoyed their competence in their specific fighting styles. I felt Schultz was able to establish that both these women can fight, but in different ways; more importantly they can fight well. One drawback for me, however, was that the art didn’t emphasize their fighting styles or the action well enough. How did you feel about the artwork?
Ginnis: I wasn’t particularly fond of it. It felt stiff and flat to me, but I think that contributed to the characters not being hypersexualized. Like, the stiffness counteracts the potential for hypersexualization whether that was the intent of the artist or not. I also really loved that Black Sparrow was fangurling over Lady Zorro because so far every time the Swords of Sorrow ladies team up, they spend so much time squabbling with one another, yet Black Sparrow and Lady Zorro were like a super team right away!
Desiree: Stiff and flat are perfect descriptors for the artwork. The one-shot was written to emphasize the action both Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow were engaged in. It was written in a very exciting and fresh way, but the artwork was rough. The coloring, I also felt, was a bit dark, but I appreciate that both women weren’t depicted as having white skin. We see a lot of lighter skinned Latina characters in mainstream media — from comics to television — and I’m grateful for that representation when it’s not stereotypical. However, it’s also important to include darker skinned Latina women in our media as well, so I appreciated that aspect of the coloring.
I also really enjoyed the fact that Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow weren’t arguing. I understand the purpose behind the various other female characters arguing in their individual books; they’re being thrust across worlds without any real knowledge imparted on them as to why. However, Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow see another woman who needs help from some indiscriminate bad guys and instead of going into it with each other, they offer a helping hand. There was a lot of team building here that I felt was stronger than what we’ve seen in other issues of the Swords of Sorrow series. I want to see more of that: these women coming together and working together. Less punch first ask questions later, more teamwork and communication happening in between the external action. That aspect, I felt, was strongest in this issue. Also the chemistry between Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow was great wasn’t it?
Desiree: I really enjoyed their dynamic. Nothing, for me, has hit that same solid storytelling as the villains prequel issue, but Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow’s chemistry has been my favorite so far in the series. Also I love, love, love all the Spanish intertwined in the dialogue. Some of it was a bit cheesy and most of it was stuff that is pretty common knowledge, but I can understand the appeal of that. You don’t want to alienate non-Spanish speaking readers. But as someone who speaks a combination of rudimentary Spanish and English that was really fun for me to read.
Gin: Speaking of the Spanish speaking, my inner little girl was delighted by Lady Zorro calling her horse (in Spanish), Isabella, and the horse assisting! It’s the horse-and-her-girl trope, and it is never old for me. There need to be more horse-and-her-girl comics. Let’s write that, okay?
Desiree: I’m not a big fan of horses. But, I could certainly read more Westerns about female cowgirls, outlaws, and rebels starring women of color. Maybe Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow can start a trend of female outlaws traveling through the colonized west battling oppressors and taking names. Their own version of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Where’s that comic? I’ll help write that comic in a heartbeat. Dynamite, give us a call.
Gin: Yes, please, we offer great rates!
Back to kicking ass — I thought this comic was a great balance of the kind of comic that Swords of Sorrow is going for: iconic lady characters kicking ass. It’s mostly action, but with a touch of characterization, and concludes with some good fist pumping. The Chaos prequel was great set-up, but admittedly, I have certain expectations when I read Dynamite comics, and that is action and ass-kicking. I just want to see more lady characters doing that without being all cheesecake.
Desiree: Agreed. While I’m not a fervent Dynamite reader (though reading your Red Sonja reviews makes me want to pick them up ASAP), I expected more action and less squabbling.
As of right now, I’m still pretty murky on the overall plot of Swords of Sorrow and where everything is going. While this issue doesn’t do much to forward the overall plot, it did establish that yes, these women can work together, build a positive relationship with one another, and be an ass kicking team. I would like more action in the series. Like give me more sword swinging! More high-kicks into the faces of monsters! Give me a reason to root for these women as well.
I really liked Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow as a team. They were enjoyable to read. With more fluid artwork, I think their specific fighting styles could be very interesting to read in motion on page. I’m thinking on how Mikel Janin depicts Dick Grayson’s fights in Grayson. I want intense action and a bunch of ladies coming together, working together, to fight off whatever the great evil in Swords of Sorrow ultimately is.
Gin: My hope is that when they all do come together, it will be Black Sparrow and Lady Zorro that tell everyone to cut the crap and work together. Which is actually entirely possible. One of my favorite things about what Simone has done with Red Sonja is to challenge the very masculinist, lone wolf ideology so typical to sword and sorcery. It ties in with one of the big themes she explores about finding family, whether or not they are blood relatives or not, and I hope to see some of that in the main Swords of Sorrow. I am getting a little tired of all the in-fighting.
Desiree: Same. I can see Black Sparrow and Lady Zorro being the ones to tell everyone to calm down and buck up. Someone has to, and so far these two are the only characters we’ve seen to actively work as a cohesive team. They never fought, never felt the need too, and never questioned the other. There was an establishment of trust based off circumstance, and we see a strong willingness to continue working together. Respect, I feel, is what’s missing from the other issues. Lady Zorro and Black Sparrow just respected each other from the get-go and continued to do so then on. Which only enabled them to work better as a team.
I don’t mind reading about egos and in-fighting, but so far, it’s really refreshing to read about these two female characters not fighting and instead working together.
Gin: Definitely – so more of that in the future, please, Swords of Sorrow team! The Lady Rawhide and Miss Fury one-shot comes out in September so I want to see another kick-ass, cooperating team-up!