In Review: Swords of Sorrow #2

This continues to show that this is the best event of the summer. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Vampirella is taking out the T-rex in violent fashion on the A cover from Tula Lotay. The vampiress has a frenzied look on her face as she repeatedly slashes the thunder lizard on his cranium, who looks shocked at what’s being done. Outstanding show of motion with the gory blade’s trail being shown to the reader against a dead blue background. The B cover is by Emanuela Lupacchino and Ivan Nunes. This image also has Vampirella battling the dinosaur, but she’s on the ground wielding the sword she was given to fight the beast. In the distance Dejah and Sonja can be seen fighting. All four characters are fantastic, as is the setting, and the colors are magnificent. The C is by Robert Hack who is again employing an early 1970s style to his work. Dejah has her sword raised to strike an unseen foe on the right, while an innocent bystander cowers behind her. Excellent job with cool coloring. There is also a Comicxposure Variant by Nei Ruffino, limited to 500 copies, that connects with her variant from the previous issue. This is a beautiful just-fed Vampirella beckoning to a trio of bats that fly above her. This is a “must own” if you’re a Vampy fan. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A-, and Comicxposure Variant A+

The story: “Somewhen”, which contains a gigantic castle, the Courier tells his mistress, “The women you have chosen…they will not rise to the task. All time and space is doomed.” She inquires if they have recognized the significance of the Swords of Sorrow he gave them, but they have not. “They are not heroes, Mistress. They have wickedness in their hearts. They lust for gold, drink, power, and carnal pleasures. And they squabble rather than combine.” She comes down from her chair, passing several paintings with images of the heroines that were given swords. He goes on to say that the Prince has enlisted terrifying allies (Catherine Bell, Hel, Chastity, and Purgatori). The Traveller assures her man that she is indeed asking her choices to “squabble.” Gail Simone then continues the fight begun last issue — Red Sonja versus Tars Tarkas. Their encounter is brief since Sonja’s skill level is at or above the level of John Carter’s wife, and guess who then appears? This is the centerpiece of the issue and Simone gives a reader everything he or she would want from this misunderstanding. I was so pleased to see Sonja demonstrate on Page 8 a rare trait on Barsoom and for the inclusion of one of my favorite characters on 12. The antagonists make a move on the warring women and it’s excellent. Another highpoint in this story was having the pair remain true to their characters; there’s none of this Oh-you-have-an-ebony-sword-like-I-do-so-we-must-be-allies nonsense. Each individual makes comments about the other that is pure awesomeness. The banter between the two is so good I would pay just to listen to this pair talk over a meal. The issue is not wholly focused on these two, but also follows Vampirella, Jane Greystoke (Why hasn’t she had her own series?), Pantha, and Lady Zorro. This is fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The art: It’s impossible not to be whisked away to each location by Sergio Davila’s imagery. The opening page’s vertical panel of the castle is fantastic. Barsoom is amazing with its flawless space-fantasy settings and gorgeous deserts and rocky mountains. Though only seen for one panel, the Greystoke mansion is worthy of the word mansion. Davila’s character work is equally impressive. When the mistress behind this crossover stands, the panel’s point of view shifts to low, looking up, giving her an instant aura of power. The villain’s allies are only shown together in one panel but the illustration is so good it could be a tee shirt or print. Greystoke goes from gentry to warrior in the turn of a page. It is Dejah and Sonja who steal the book, though. They receive the most pages, so Davila has more time to show the women speaking and fighting, and he does so magnificently: the full page splash on 7, the swordplay on 8 and 17, and a fantastic dialogue scene on 22. There are also three specific creatures in this book that are stunningly detailed. The first is the Tyrannosaurus rex that Vampriella encountered in the first issue. Next is the wonderful animal on 12 and the monsters on 21, who create a jaw dropping climax to the issue. This issue looks epic on every page. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Completing the excellent visuals are the outstanding colors by Jorge Sutil. Draw your eye to the first panel on the opening page to see what a professional Sutil is. Look at the coloring on the stones and the plants. It’s beautiful. He could have gone the easy route on those plants by using only two colors, but there are several shades in them. This location is never returned to in this issue, but he took the time to make it believable. The villainesses and their background on 4 are also beautiful. The detail in the dinosaur’s scales is also impressive. My favorite color is the crimson that spills out of individuals in many different times and locations. It is stark, shocking, and final. Colors tell you this is not for the kiddies. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, Terror Crows’ dialogue, a communication, sounds, screams, narration, yells, and next issue’s tease are brought to life by Erica Schultz. I’m always pleased when a letterer is allowed to differentiate narration from dialogue, and this confirms Schultz is also a professional. My only nit, and it doesn’t fall under Schultz’s purview, is that I wanted — needed — a sound for the action in the final panel on 11. Overall grade: A

The final line: This continues to show that this is the best event of the summer. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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