Margeurite Bennet (script), Mirka Andolfo (art)
September 23, 2015
(Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers and is based on an advanced review copy from Dynamite.)
Well, here we are: we laughed, we cried, we puzzled over cover art, but our coverage of Swords of Sorrow: Red Sonja & Jungle Girl is at its end. Let’s see what the dream team of Margeuerite Bennet and Mirka Andolfo have wrought, yes?
Laura H: At last! A cover where everyone involved seems to know both exactly why they’re there and what they’re meant to be doing. While the previous covers have enjoyed beautiful (if bewildering) art, #3 gives us a dynamic glance into our immediate future with this depiction of Jana the Jungle Girl and Red Sonja joining battle against Hel.
I definitely want to point out, as Ginnis did for Issue #2, the colors—the colors! They’re gorgeous. This cover is almost stark in comparison to the lush, rich tones of the previous two, but it really works: the impact of warriors blasts off the page. I love it, and I love how fierce and focused they all are.
Sarah Wolfypants: OMG I want that axe! Double fisting skull axes? This cover almost has me rooting for the baddie.
This is definitely my favorite cover so far. I do think the somewhat busy background takes away from the foreground a little. The sharp contrast between the warm colors of our heroes and the coolness of Hel is spot on, but just desaturating the giant lizards in water isn’t quite enough to make the distinction clear. I do love the ladies, though, and yes, those colors are great.
Laura: Issue #3 concludes Sonja and Hel’s mini-arc on Jana’s island while setting up their appearance in the final Swords of Sorrow issue. Sonja and Jana race with Bel’lok back to his village, harassed along the way by their male doppelgangers (#notallmaledoppelgangers) which … listen, if you’re going to have a deus ex machina, you really can’t get better than a T-Rex chomping down on your enemy. If it’s good enough for Jurassic Park, it’s good enough for me. I laughed. Nice one, MB!
Once at the village, Bel’lok introduces the girls to the real reason for Hel’s threats and attacks: the Heart of the Island … uh, Mountain.
(Doctor Jack Shepard was unavailable for comment.)
If we’re putting the story through some sort of enjoyment metrics, though … well. There was action! There was romance! There were narrative highs and lows! This issue was the best-paced and easiest to follow of the lot, and a satisfying conclusion to a cute, fun storyline.
Sarah: Confession time! I have a serious lack of appreciation for puns. Couple the plethora of not-so-funny quips with a super convenient plot twists at every turn, and I was … so bored and annoyed. The cover promised me double axe carnage that the interior seriously failed to deliver. I don’t understand. The writer had Hel AND Red Sonja, and she went for cute? The hell? Gimme gore! Gimme sex! Gimme gore and sex AT THE SAME TIME.
So, this probably isn’t the comic for me.
Laura: I’ve come full circle on Jana the Jungle Girl (although I still side-eye her naivete being played as a lack of intelligence/a punchline), and I felt pretty good about Sonja this time around, too. There’s a moment where each character is briefly lost inside their own minds, and Sonja’s is the perfect mix of exasperated world-weariness and that bright glint of challenge she can never refuse. Even Bel’lok got a little more development (even if I think he really ought to keep an eye out for that cheeky ol’ Smoke Monster). And, of course, we got smooches. I am on board for Jana the Jungle Girl getting some, and so is Sonja, like a good pal.
Sarah: Red Sonja was the only character that didn’t make me roll my eyes this issue. Like Laura, I really liked her jaded reaction to the vision, and I appreciated that they did show her more calculating side. However, Jana’s bright-eyed-I’m-so-innocent shtick lost me this time. I do acknowledge that’s more the fault of the character concept than the writer’s fault, but … ugh. The ‘savage girl is little better than an animal’ trope is a horse so beaten that it’s flat. It actually works against her role as hero of her people. It was almost worth it just for Red Sonja to get in the crack about the “beast with two backs.” Almost.
Laura: My kingdom for a review PDF that gives me the correct two-page spread, because Andolfo’s art has never been so good. (Okay, maybe it has elsewhere, but in the context of these three issues, she knocked it out of the park.) It’s bright and active and while I still find it a better match for Jana than Sonja, Andolfo clearly nailed it in this issue.
Sarah: I really disliked the art. The juxtaposition of big breasts with childlike faces skeeves me out, and it was hard to follow the action at times. I can forgive a lot of plot hijinks in the face of beautiful art, and this didn’t do it for me. Red Sonja and Jana seemed to have the same body types and length of hair. Could we get some differing body types up in here? And why the hell does Dude Sonja get a full mail shirt? Do Claire a favor, and show us some abs with a half-mail shirt. Dude Jana is showing some skin, but not enough to balance out everyone else.
Laura: My favorite of the three! I’m sorry to leave Bel’lok and the dinosaurs behind, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the grand finale!
Sarah: I’m … glad it’s over? That sounds so harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. It’s a decent comic, but both the characters and the covers seemed to suggest one kind of story, while the interior gave us another. Having a hero from another place and a local save the heart of a mountain from an evil villain is pretty pulpy, so definite points for that. It may have been the mash-up of pulp and cartoony art (and a lack of sufficient crotch skull) that left a sour taste in my mouth, so, like Laura, I’ll be looking forward to seeing everything wrapped up in the main storyline.