Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Sergio Davila
Colored by Jorge Sutil
Lettered by Erica Schultz
“I don’t need prey. I don’t need soldiers. I need generals.”
Swords of Sorrow #1 may be the biggest feminist comics event of the year—but I wouldn’t be surprised if you overlooked it, thanks to a cover by J. Scott Campbell which depicts the comic’s most scantily-clad characters in predictably spine-twisting, butt-thrusting poses. (Robert Hack’s variant cover, in which a man in a loincloth clings to triumphant warrior Red Sonja, is much more my jam.) But, forget the cover. Creators Gail Simone and Sergio Davila have crafted a crossover with an irresistible premise: female warriors from all corners of pulp fiction and comic books are pulled together to save the universe from an evil prince. Swords of Sorrow unites not only Dynamite favorites Vampirella and Red Sonja, but also Dejah Thoris (from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series), Irene Adler (of Sherlock Holmes fame), Lady Zorro, Green Hornet’s partner Kato (did you know there’s a female Kato now? I didn’t.), Jungle Girl, and more. It’s a fascinating mix of characters and genres, covering everything from masked superheroes to horror and science fiction, and the first issue is a promising beginning.
Gail Simone admirably juggles her sprawling cast, giving most of her main characters fast-paced introductions that give you a sense of who they are, even if you haven’t read their previous stories. I have no idea what sets Jungle Girl apart from other white, blonde, “savior of the jungle” characters like Fantomah, Shanna The She-Devil, or even Tarzan’s mate Jane (who, yes, also shows up here), but Simone is still able to make me appreciate her as a strong, appealing protagonist. With its mix of classic pulp fiction characters, a few League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comparisons are inevitable, but unlike that series—which I do love—Swords of Sorrow is accessible and explicitly feminist from its very first pages. (It should be noted that the main series and all of its spinoff books are written by women.) This is a boon for female characters that have often been exploited or reduced to fan service in their media, and luckily they have artist Sergio Davila on their side. Davila has a flair for action scenes and big “wow” moments—dig Vampirella fighting a dinosaur and Red Sonja’s mysterious statue on Mars—and the female characters are sexy and badass without pandering to the male gaze. The art’s so good I almost forgot how many metal bikinis actually showed up in this issue.
Swords of Sorrow #1 is a thrilling first issue, and a massive comic book crossover driven by women is pretty extraordinary. Featuring Martians, vampires, warriors, and masked heroes, Simone and Davila’s Swords of Sorrow has damn near everything you could ask for—don’t let the cover fool you.
Joe Stando is reading…
Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle #2 (of 2)
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Jan Duursema (pencils), Dan Parsons (inks), and Wes Dzioba (colors)
Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual
“You had the chance to surrender, Earthman. Now, it is to be a conquest by blood.”
Nightwing/Oracle was among my favorite of the Convergence books I’ve read, and now that we’ve moved into the second half of the event, it’s one that I wanted to follow through to the end. It was as satisfying a conclusion as any, with an appearance by Black Canary and a final battle with a level of mercy and empathy to it. Duursema’s pencils complement Simone’s story beats well, and the whole endeavor feels very much like the kind of mid-2000s Birds of Prey books that I liked to read.
The other really cool thing about this book? It ends. Convergence gives Simone a chance to write Dick and Babs a happily ever after ending that serial fiction inherently doesn’t allow. Who knows what the ultimate fate of these various cities and their inhabitants will be? The main series has taken so many weird twists and turns that nothing is out of the question. But within this two-issue story, we get a solid, definitive ending that satisfies fans of the characters. I’m excited for next week’s wave of conclusions, and I hope that the rest of the creative teams take this rare opportunity to write something with weight and finality.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Convergence: The Question #2 (of 2)
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Cully Hamner
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by Corey Breen
“Be the good man.”
The Convergence tie-ins have been a great chance to see some old favorites that DC’s New 52 have consigned to the continuity scrapheap. The domes that have surrounded the last cities of each universe have fallen and a champion has been chosen from each to fight for the fate of their city. Renee Montoya, The Question teams up with Batwoman and the Huntress to chase down Two-Face before he murders someone to save the city. Meanwhile Two-Face, who thinks it’s a simple choice of killing one person to save his city, is left with a far more difficult choice than he had imagined.
The book does a lot in its thirty-some pages, wrapping up character arcs that have been left hanging for Renee since Gotham Central ended and deepening her relationship with Batwoman. Rucka’s Two-Face is still probably the most interesting modern take on the character, and it’s great to see him not as your usual crazy Bat-villain, but a good man who believes that his choices are made for him. While Rucka and Hamner are telling a deep, emotional story here, it still manages to be very light and fun. The dialogue is just cracking, and has two or three pure laugh-out-loud moments. Hamner’s colorful, chunky art is just beautiful here. He gets a few wordless pure action pages that are stunning. Even if the two creators are done with these characters, I really hope they get a chance to work together elsewhere soon.
With the end of this series, it’s bittersweet to see Rucka revisiting some of his best DC characters only to leave them again. However, he uses the occasion to say a final goodbye and to put a period to his stories with The Question and Batwoman.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!