Review: Swords of Sorrow #3
Gail Simone (writer), Sergio Davila (illustrator), Jorge Sutil (colorist), Erica Schultz (letterer)
Covers: Tula Latoy (A), Emanuela Lupacchino & Ivan Nunes (B), Robert Hack (C), and Cosplay Variant (G)
July 8, 2015
(Disclaimer: This contains spoilers and is based on an advanced review copy from Dynamite.)
Ginnis: How cool is it that Simone got them to do the cosplay cover? On her blog, she mentioned that some of the cover commissions for the earlier issues were before she was brought in, and I think this is an attempt to rectify that atrocious Campbell cover.
Amanda: Wow, I totally agree, Ginnis! The cosplay cover is awesome, particularly because it was fan-driven to begin with. I actually like all of the covers this time, though. The Tula Lotay cover has some nice diagonal motion and spare linework, and although figures are rather stiff, it works for me. I like the Lupacchino cover because it’s playful and it shows the characters interacting in the middle of an action scene. And, of course, I still get a kick out of the throwback Hack covers. In particular, I really like the visual exchange between Vampirella and the anonymous saintly naked blonde dude.
Sarah Richardson: “Anonymous saintly naked blonde dude” (snickers). That may be my favorite, with the reference to old horror comics, but with that gender twist. I think the Lotay cover is a strong second, though, with the stuff Amanda mentioned, plus the giant white ape action. The cosplay one is just gorgeous.
Wendy: I love the way the cosplay cover turns the Campbell cover upside down and shows what sexy actually means. I love that these fans took it upon themselves to do this and that it became part of the whole. This one stands out because it makes such a statement, but I really do like them all equally this time around for all the reasons stated above.
Several of us have expressed an annoyance with the continued infighting. There seemed to be less of that in this issue. What did you think about this issue?
Gin: I was happy tosee some camaraderie, and Miss Fury and Black Sparrow have a particularly fun and well-written banter. But what is interesting to me is that the secondary characters as opposed to the main characters (Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris, Vampirella) have a lot more camaraderie. This is an intriguing move, and I think toys with the notion of the sidekick in an interesting way.
Amanda: I didn’t mind the infighting so much, as it seemed like a natural consequence of strong personalities being thrown together without much context or explanation. However, it’s a lot more fun to see them working together to kick some Terror Crow arse. Plus: the banter is priceless! It not only shows off their wits and humor, but highlights their increasing camaraderie. And who doesn’t love some good, quick, funny conversation?
Sarah: That side banter was priceless, and having it be so meta, coming from the radio play, was really well done. It does seem like all of them will toss aside the infighting when danger is around, but yeah, I like to see the secondary cast working together more. I can’t imagine some people (Red Sonja) NOT being prickly and obstinate.
Wendy: I liked that I finally got to see some of the camaraderie instead of the insta-fighting. I disagree that putting strong personalities together should automatically mean infighting. Conflict and disagreement, sure, but punch first and don’t bother to ask questions seems out of character for some of them (not Sonja, of course).
There’s a big reveal about the prince in this issue. Thoughts?
Gin: There’s some serious genre bending going on now, which I LURRVE! This reveal makes me super excited to see where this mini is going. I think Simone bit off a big ole’ chunk of comic storytelling, and while it hasn’t worked perfectly, the ambitious scope impresses the hell out of me.
Amanda: Hah! I loved it. The fact that the prince is also a canonical character gives (most, I won’t say all) readers immediate context for his motivations and enough of an idea of where the story is going to get excited about it. We now understand the twists that Simone has put in place and can begin to have fun imagining what future twists are in store. The pieces are clicking into place!
Sarah: I…didn’t like it.
Admittedly, the part of my brain that likes fairy tales made a face when that came up. I did not care for that being mixed with Vampirella’s universe, for example, or Lady Zorro. I also felt having his motivation revolve around a woman, and having him being sooo angry at women, was kinda flat for me. I’m guessing his lady love doesn’t want to have anything to do with him, and that will be tied to the ending. Shrug.
Wendy: Ugh. I am really disliking that the writing is so heavy on the woman-hating. The twist is interesting because it finally gives some motivation and forward motion, but I’m still on standby regarding whether or not I like this series. Throwing in yet another disconnected item under the umbrella of “portals across time and space” has become tedious and forced.
And of course, the pivotal point: the philosopher’s stone. What did you think about this mythical artifact being woven into the series?
Gin: I like this sort of classic approach with the stone being the sort of call to action for the “sidekicks.” It’s a classic hero storyline al la Joseph Campbell, and I like seeing not just one lady tackle it, but a whole team that actually get along. It inverts the individualism of this traditional narrative.
Amanda: I’m a mythical history nerd, and I love seeing how “artifacts” like the philosopher’s stone pop up in different stories. Again, Simone is taking classic characters and tropes and breathing new life into them. It’s fun!
Sarah: I totally got excited about the philosopher’s stone. Now that’s an object worthy of ripping space and time apart. Very excited to see where they go with that.
Wendy: See above about throwing more stuff in to make more implausible connections. And the Irene Adler-free deductive reasoning that has them jump to the realization that they need a leech–no wait a vampire!, warrior–but we’re all warriors… clearly we need a different one!, and queen–maybe it means princess???? How convenient.
We finally got some more Miss Fury, Black Sparrow, Lady Zorro, and one new character! What did you think about these two new additions?
Gin: I don’t recall the newest good girl ever being mentioned in the press releases, but OMG, so excited! It’s right up my alley.
Amanda: The more, the merrier! Until we’re overrun with characters and can’t keep proper track of them. I’m almost to mental overload, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love these new characters. They’re awesome! I’m a total fan now, and I just want to see more, more, more! How did I know nothing about these characters prior to Swords of Sorrow? What have I been doing with my life?
Sarah: I loved Miss Fury and Black Sparrow! I may have to go read their comics now. I’d read a Black Sparrow/Lady Zorro buddy comedy as well. And Eva? I’m leaning on the good side of ‘wait and see.’ She could be amazing.
Wendy: Where are the bad girls who are supposed to be hunting these women down in order to get their big wish? Purgatori going on about her beloved doesn’t cut it. Eva looks like she could be interesting, but once she gets into the muddle with the rest, it’s just meh.
We also finally got to see some more of our bad girls and learn a bit more about our bad guy. What did y’all think about that?
Gin: I still don’t understand why Purgatori refers to the bad guy as her love when that was not even the issue AT ALL in the prequel. I loved how she was done in the prequel, but less so in the main series. In the prequel, she was in it for herself and no one else. I liked that. Being in it for love is unfortunately too stereotypical for lady villains, BUT I have hope Simone will flip that on it’s head.
On the other hand, I do love the prince (that particular prince – if you want to know which prince, pick up the issue, readers!) as a scorned man because it inverts the “hell hath no fury like a scorned woman” trope on its head.
Amanda: As I mentioned above, I really enjoyed the reveal about the prince. I do still want to know more about the women who are on his team, though. The Chaos Prequel was just too short! I agreed with you too, Ginnis, that I don’t buy Purgatori’s devotion to the prince. Where did that come from? Why does she love him? I need some more context here.
Sarah: Agreed on the Purgatori thing! The only thing I like about the Prince is it does make more sense he’s able to wrangle the bag ‘o cats that is his team, but other than that? Nah. I didn’t feel anyone needed a romantic motivation of any kind.
Wendy: As I said above, I’m not happy with Purgatori’s lackluster appearance and would like to see the rest of them do something more than appear and pose and serve as little more than lackeys. I also don’t care much for the prince scorned thing, because that’s not a new story or a subverted story at all. There have been more than enough examples of a man coming after the woman who scorned him–and in this case, he wants to take down all women along the way.
Gin: I have expressed my love for Davila’s art a lot, so I just feel redundant now. But the 1930s costuming was a lot of fun. I appreciate that eye to costuming detail.
Amanda: Clear, fun, and fast-paced, just like the dialogue. It seems like Davila and Simone are a great pair. If I were to be nitpicky … okay, I’ll be nitpicky. Sometimes the characters’ features are a bit awkward and poses stiff—such as in the panel where Eva stands firm as Dracula floats down to her—and that throws me a bit. But honestly, that’s me looking for flaws. It’s a really strong showing overall.
Sarah: There was a little too much open-mouthed expressions of surprise on the women, but overall the art conveyed what was happening very clearly. I could totally do without Eva’s weirdly lingerie-esque tank top. The Terror Crows design was a little odd as well, with the mash up of cool crow skulls and feathery vests with…jeans? Did they watch the Warriors right before designing these guys?
Wendy: I really liked the detail in the costuming and the expressions on the characters, but once they all got suited up and came together, it was difficult to tell them apart save for their costumes.