Monday, May 4, 2015

Review - Swords of Sorrow #1


"I need generals."

When an event spans a comic book universe, a lot of big-name characters interact with other big-name characters, all in the name of good clean fun. There needs to be a cause uniting their team-up though and it's usually something that threatens that universe. Dynamite has both the characters and the cause in Swords of Sorrow #1. The issue is written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Sergio Davila, colored by Jorge Sutil and lettered by Erica Schultz.

Villains and heroes from a dozen worlds and eras face off against a legendary evil known as the Prince that threatens all their homelands. Now, it's up to an unlikely team-up of Vampirella, Red Sonja, Dejah Thoris, Jungle Girl, Kato and Jennifer Blood to save the day. Their tasked with attempting to harness the full power of the magical blades bequeathed to each of them in the Swords of Sorrow. Meanwhile, the Prince is amassing his own army, including characters such as Puragtori, Bad Kitty, Chastity and Lady Demon.

Swords of Sorrow #1 is--first and foremost--a set-up comic. Simone opens the book with a jab at gender roles in general before introducing Jungle Girl to save two little kids playing, but it's effective as it helps set the stage for the underlying themes of the series. Bringing together so many marquis characters is never easy, yet Simone does her best to make the rapid-fire jumps from one character to the next not quite as jarring, eventually smoothing out their interactions toward the end of the issue. Despite the number of characters focused on, there's a relative calmness is Simone's approach, refusing to let the breakneck pace exceed the reader's capability to keep up. And there are rather lofty stakes introduced as well, with Simone blending the characters together in a way that serves a united purpose amongst the new team members.

Davila's ability to bring together so many characters is quite admirable. His work in Swords of Sorrow #1 is pretty remarkable and prevents the issue from more or less devolving into a swimsuit catalogue; instead, his portrayals of recognizable characters carry strength in their appearances. For instance, Jungle Girl's introduction features her swinging heroically through the jungle, Red Sonja is recovering from combat and Dejah Thoris is overseeing her kingdom. Davila's rendering of the action is well-done and mixes between action and expository fairly seamlessly. Sutil's colors are the perfect complement as well, bringing to life the seemingly disparate worlds through vibrant green jungles, yellowish arid deserts and dark warehouse settings.

Swords of Sorrow #1 is a lot of laying the groundwork for the series to come. Having said that, there's never really a point where the reader feels overwhelmed or confused as to what's going on. Simone's overarching plot is cleanly laid out and it'll be pretty exciting to see titans of Dynamite's universe collaborating on a mission that has high stakes. Davila's pencils are clean and blend together the different characters effortlessly, while at the same time providing plenty of good looks at the action. Swords of Sorrow #1 starts what will be a pretty big event for Dynamite this summer and it looks like the issue gets the story going in the right direction.

Swords of Sorrow #1 is in stores now.

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