In Review: Swords of Sorrow: Black Sparrow & Lady Zorro #1

A fun one-shot to Swords of Sorrow that spotlights two outstanding heroes.

The cover: This is how you introduce your heroes to an audience! A gust of wind has blown the cap off of the Black Sparrow, her ponytail trailing after it. The turn of the Sparrow’s head is perfect and the bike she’s on is gorgeous. Behind her, on a big brown horse, sits Lady Zorro holding a sword ready for any foe. She disregards the leaves that splay around her and her mount. Sensational illustration by Joyce Chin with beautiful colors by Ivan Nunes. This should be a print. Overall grade: A+

The story: “A Song of Spanish Ladies” by Erica Schultz opens right in the thick of the action in Madrid of 1940 on the roof of the Museo de Ciencias Naturales, with the Black Sparrow being pursued by an armed guard. Using her whip she eludes the man by swinging to the ground and then stealing a car. The Courier appears in the back seat, startling Esmeralda, and bears a gift for her. The Sparrow is more concerned with the man chasing after her on a motorcycle. “What is it? Will it get me out of this mess?” Energy sparks before the vehicle, prompting the Courier to say, “No…but that will.” She drives through the portal while the motorcycle hits the brakes. This was an exceptionally fun read. I know of these heroes but haven’t seen much of them in action; this book shows their abilities amply. I like how the leads were able to meet and the justification for their meeting. Yes, they each have an ebony sword of sorrow, the title of Dynamite Comics’ summer crossover event, but it’s what the Black Sparrow has stolen that drives the story, not their weapons. However, they each can use their blades expertly as seen on Pages 9 and 10. Their exit from the first teaming is a classic as exits go. The new location that the pair arrive at was completely unexpected and wholly welcome — I am a huge fan of this type of environment and whenever it appears in a film, book, or comic, I have to pick it up. What happens there are the expected occurrences in this location, but I still loved it. They were a few intrusions by the leaders from Swords of Sorrow, but they didn’t diminish from this one-shot tale; they provide the narrative that shows how the pair will fit into the mega-series. This was a rare crossover event: fun to read and didn’t rely on any previous stories to enjoy. Overall grade: A 

The art: Reading this book it becomes quickly apparent that Christhian Zamora needs to be illustrating more comics. The first page is a sweet shot of the Museo with two figures in silhouette running atop it, with one large insert panel showing the Sparrow unleashing her whip as she jumps down. This panel is shown looking up at the two characters and it’s great. The vehicles in this location are really impressive. I’ve seen many books fall apart visually on machines or settings: the cars and motorcycle that Zamora creates are awesome. The setting is also impressive. When the second location turns up, Zamora maintains a high level for its landmarks as well as for the characters and their modes of transportation. The intricate rock work on 6 is really nice. The action in this location is solid and that exit on 12 is only missing John Williams’ score. The final location is fantastic with the wildlife being particularly wonderful; I was unbelievably pleased with the creature on 16. Often these animals are sleek, but Zamora doesn’t go that route and I was so happy! That’s the perfect descriptive word for this artwork — happy! Overall grade: A

The colors: Excellent coloring throughout from the Salvatore Aiala Studio. Things start smartly with the stonework on the Museo. The Sparrow wears a black costume so she can’t receive a blanket shade on her because she’d be only a dark smudge on the page. She’s rightly colored with different dark hues that endow her outfit with a realistic shine from every light source. Page 4 also has some nicely lit scenes, with the glare on the back of the car and the view through the windshield. In the final setting three panels have backgrounds that go red to highlight the tension, but this is not done in the typical luminescent reds; these are the blood reds of life’s necessary fluids which make the gravity of the characters’ situations greater. Overall grade: A

The letters: Writer Erica Schultz also provides the lettering on this book, which includes scene settings, the opening story title and credits, dialogue, sounds, yells, and palabras en Espanol. The sounds in the final location were my favorites. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fun one-shot to Swords of Sorrow that spotlights two outstanding heroes. 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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