Review: Swords of Sorrow #4
Gail Simone (script), Sergio Davila (illustrations), Jorge Sutil (colors), Erica Schultz (letters)
Tula Lotay (Cover A), Emanuela Lupacchino & Ivan Nunes (Cover B), & Robert Hack (Cover C)
August 12, 2015
The fourth issue in this six-part series brings together all of the Dynamite ladies to prepare for battle against the Prince and his gang. We share our thoughts and feels on the covers, story, and art.
(Note: This review may contain spoilers and is based on an advanced review copy from Dynamite.)
Ginnis Tonnik: Can Tula Lotay do any wrong? I just read WicDiv #13, and I mean wow. I particularly enjoy this cover because of the positioning and perspective. It seems like one of those old-school covers with a lot going on and different perspectives, but much less overwhelming which I think has a lot to do with the colors. Speaking of that style, Emanuela Lupacchino’s cover veers off from that a bit. I like the action here, but I could do without Red Sonja’s hanging mouth – I think the idea is that she is yelling, but it comes off more like the vapid open mouth thing. And Hack’s covers, I mean I adore the callback to the covers of those ridiculous vintage pulp mags like Men (yes, a real mag).
Melinda Pierce: I liked all the covers. Especially the cover with Irene Adler tucked into the flames.
Birdi Lulu: Tula Lotay has been winning my cold heart left and right lately. Between her work on SoS, The Wicked and The Divine, and Supreme Blue Rose I have found myself enraptured with her style. Buy a round for Lotay.
Wendy Browne: I have liked Lotay’s covers all the way through. The style is very unique and definitely unusual for subject matter and characters like these and this cover is another great addition. I will go with the cosplay cover as my favourite though, because it represents so many fantastic things. Four ferocious real ladies showing how sexy and deadly can be done without gross objectification. What is up with that ComicXtreme cover though? Is Dejah’s butt supposed to be photobombing the image?
Sarah Richardson: I wanted that to be a wrap-around cover or something, but it doesn’t matter. The only thing that’s not off in that image (perspective, body integrity, composition) is Red Sonja’s eyes and eyebrows. Like, that’s it, and the rest is bad. The cosplay one is my favorite here. The rest are (shrug) just not that exciting/telling the story. And while Lupacchino’s cover comes the closest to the story, when the hell did Red Sonja start wearing ginormous chainmaille earrings? Too much of a good thing going on there.
Gin: Sarah, you have hit on one of my pet peeves when drawing Red Sonja. She ain’t got time for that crap.
Gin: So…who were all the ladies in the pulp heroines army? The amount of characters was a little confusing for me, but I liked how the lettering was used to signal the pairings in various sections. There’s a load of characters, but I love this communal approach to a genre that is so often about a lone hero.
Melinda: My first reaction was frustration when I read this issue. Then I read it again and noticed the schoolgirl ninjas at the end. I can forgive a lot when ninjas are involved. I really wanted some major action between the heroines and the villains, and instead we got some chitchat reminding us how our heroines aren’t perfect and for that reason alone should join the bad guys. Sigh. But, the issue really picks up when we get the story about our mysterious leader, and I do like to see big questions answered. Now, if I can get some serious fighting with a someone holding a decapitated head Medusa style — I’ll take back every negative thought I’ve had about what’s come before.
Birdi: The past two issues have felt a little rushed for me. We’re at the point in the series where so much has to come together and rather than creating thru lines it all just feels like a big balloon is popping, but a colorful balloon albeit. The one liners fell flat for me but the connections between the pulp heroines felt real, I believed they were all committed to the cause. But again, it all just spun out too quickly. Of course, the Traveller is the witch from Snow White, of course she is, we could see that coming faster than speed racer on a bad day, but it was still a fun move. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that even the obvious can be delightful.
Wendy: Uuuuugh. So now everyone is there, and I’ve lost track of who’s who. Except for the three main people we’re supposed to pick up, which all happened so quickly, like they were going grocery shopping: “Can you check the leech aisle for a Vampirella?” Everything is alllll soooo daaaamn convenient. And Purgatori. Ugh. Does she understand that her “love” is doing all this because he’s bitter over his actual love’s rejection of him? Where is this whole “my love” thing even coming from? And once again, where are the other baddies from the prequel? Why are they all out here being awesome? Thanks for coming out and speaking in fonts, Hel. Oh and what the hell are the swords even for? Are they all going to hold them aloft and shout “For the honour of Greyskull?”
Sarah: I’d forgive everything if She-Ra showed up. She might make up for this whole boring “let’s get everyone together now that we’ve (somehow) sorta figured out we need to do that.” Assembling your army isn’t a compelling plot, using that army is.
Gin: I finally noticed in this issue how Davila draws all his body types similarly, men included. With women they are usually buxom and muscular, which I do appreciate, and the faces do vary, but the bodies are pretty similar. Men are also broad chested, slim-waisted, and muscular. It’s very much Davila’s style, and reading this series has brought that more to my awareness. Also, his attention to costuming is pretty rad. When Kato and Eva land in Barsoom, they are wearing the sort of clothing we often see on Dejah. I like that their clothing was adapted to the cultural setting because otherwise it feels like lets just dress Dejah in barely any clothing for T&A rather than the cultural costuming of Barsoom.
Melinda: I did get excited about the change of clothing for Kato and Eva, and I’d really love for the entire army to have a certain “battle” style that’s similar to each at the end game.
Birdi: I always love a good full throttle frame, so I was really pleased with the Traveller’s full wingspan shot. Let us all recognize the massive vagina shield she is sporting. The only thing bigger than that shield is her sword. Indeed, I applauded that thoughtful coverage. The Traveller is about to go full ovaries and her bits need protection.
Lady Hel was drawn strikingly, I found the choice to have her barefoot interesting. I am curious to know what the intent is with that choice. Davila’s attention to detail truly draws your eye to each element of a panel to seek out the connections.
Gin: Right?! I really noticed Hel’s feet, too, because of how Davila pays attention to detail and perspective.
Wendy: I love that Kato and Eva got to dress Barsoom style, while Dejah maintains her London attire for the first little bit. The full page spread of the Traveler was definitely my favourite. It was an epic moment that spoke of a woman living with regret and ready for war.
Sarah: Finally a decent sized crotchskull! But yeah, the Traveller and Hel have much more exciting costume designs than the majority of the ‘good’ army. I think the sameness in a lot of their silhouettes is part of what makes it so hard to tell all of the women apart and is part of what makes Sonja, Traveller, and Hel so distinct. These three also have very defined styles, unlike the dark bodysuit/tiny mask I’m seeing on a lot of the others. When in doubt, go vagina shield. When badass, go crotchskull.