Leah Moore (writer), Francesco Manna (artist), Jay Ancleto (cover artist), Erica Schultz (letterer), Ivan Nunes (cover colors), Inlight Studio (interior colors)
(This article contains spoilers for Swords of Sorrow #3, which was reviewed using a copy provided by Dynamite Entertainment)
Hello, and welcome to our third (and last) discussion of Swords of Sorrow: Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler as part of Women Write About Comic’s coverage of the massive Swords of Sorrow crossover event. Why the last, you ask? Well, as much as Wendy and Amanda love Dejah Thoris and Irene Adler, the arc with these fine women only lasts three issues. We reviewed the first and second issues, and now we’re on to the third.
Let’s bring this full circle. What happens to Dejah and Irene in the third and final volume?
Irene returns to London with knowledge of the Barsoomian assassin. Dejah still believes Irene to be the culprit and is wandering London trying to find a way to return to Mars. After an altercation between the two, Irene manages to convey her message, and Dejah finally stops trying to kill her. The pair then turn their attention to ridding London of the killer Barsoomian cat that recently ate the prime minister.
Wendy: After enjoying the first two issues of this comic, mainly for the portrayals of the characters, this finale has left me scratching my head. As I’ve mentioned before, the constant in-fighting between the Swords of Sorrow women is tiresome and seems only to exist to fill panels. In this case, said panels are extremely confusing, because other than slight differences in skin tone and hairstyle, both characters look very much alike. The resolution of mysteries on their respective planets was a little disappointing and unsurprising.
Amanda: Alas, yes, I agree. I realize this story has only had sixty some-odd pages in which to be told, and it has a steep task: introduce two characters who each have a rich history, tell a standalone story, and set up two characters to jump into the remainder of Swords of Sorrow. Had I read these three issues all together, I may have enjoyed the last a bit more. As a standalone issue, it’s lacking. As the end to a longer story, it’s still a bit fast and pat, but it hangs together better.
How has Dejah Thoris grown or changed over the course of this small arc?
Wendy: Well, Dejah did actually change, as in, she set aside her Barsoomian regal skivvies and replaced them with a nice, demure gown that better suited the climate of London. This was a pleasant twist in Dejah’s usual depiction, which we discussed in our previous interview with writer Leah Moore, but overall, there was not much growth for the character. In fact, her response to Irene’s presence was rather hot-headed, and her refusal to listen to reason seemed very out of character. Thinking back to Dejah’s first appearance in Edgar Rice Burrough’s A Princess of Mars, Dejah responded to both subject and enemy with dignity and respect first, rather than the Red Sonja “slash first, logic later” approach she’s got going on now.
How has Irene Adler grown or changed?
Amanda: As I mentioned in the previous reviews, writer Leah Moore has taken Irene Adler from the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” and has let her grow from a foil to Sherlock Holmes into her own person. Doyle’s Irene had the barest hint of motivation for her actions, and she spoke for herself only a few times in the story. Moore’s Irene speaks loudly and sharply on her own behalf, and she clearly has her own agenda. Although this issue is clearly more about wrapping things up than moving them forward, we do get to see Irene interact more with Mycroft, the elder Mr. Holmes. In this scene, Mycroft treats her as an ally and an equal, further underlining Irene’s assertion from an earlier issue that she’s a “diplomat without portfolio.” Although this isn’t the way Doyle depicted her, I’ve enjoyed Moore’s take very much.
Hope for the future: what do you wish for Dejah and Irene throughout the remainder of Swords of Sorrow?
Wendy: Thankfully, their adventures on Barsoom and Jasoom have brought them closer together, so we are on our way to some effective teamwork, but—due to my overall disappointment with this series and the large cast of characters—I don’t expect a whole lot. Dejah will likely take a more prominent role due to her status according to the Philosopher’s Stone.
Amanda: I’d love to see more of these two working together. As showed us, pairs of women who have their own side stories continue to play off one another and build rapport in the main comic. I’m crossing my fingers that Irene and Dejah get the same treatment! And if they don’t, can someone please commission Leah Moore to write her own comic about Dejah Thoris and/or Irene Adler? I think a lot of my issues with this arc could be resolved with a longer storyline and more time, and I’d love to see what Moore would do with these characters if given full rein.
And that’s a wrap! For Dejah and Irene’s solo arc, that is. Stay tuned to Women Write About Comics for more coverage of the Swords of Sorrows crossover event. This opera ain’t over yet!