Swords of Sorrow: The Complete Saga is an epic book, and I do mean EPIC! It runs to 530 pages, of which 503 is story, and features all 21 issues of Dynamite Entertainment's biggest crossover event to date. The actual Swords of Sorrow story itself only took up six issues but it also featured many spin-off mini-series and one-shots. I only collected the six issue main series and the four issue mini-series featuring Vampirella. So, much of this TPB was new to me. It was written by Gail Simone with help on the mini-series and one-shots from Emma Bebby, Nancy A. Collins, Mikki Kendall, Leah Moore, Erica Schultz, Mairghread Scott and G. Willow Wilson, and featuring artwork by Sergio Davila (main series), Dave Acosta, Mirka Andolfo, Ronilson Freire, Francesco Manna, Rod Rodolfo, Noah Salonga and Crizam Zamora!
|The good trio - Dejah Thoris, Red Sonja and Vampirella|
The heroines are recruited in diverse pairs, which we as readers get to know more about through the one-shot issues and mini-series. These teams-ups feature in alphabetical order, Black Sparrow and Lady Zorro (one-shot), the Chaos Quartet prequel (one shot), Dejah Thoris and Irene Adler (3 part mini-series), Masquerade and Kato (one-shot), Miss Fury and Lady Rawhide (one-shot), Pantha and Jane Porter (one-shot), Red Sonja and Jungle Girl (3 part mini-series) and Vampirella and Jennifer Blood (4 part mini-series).
|The bad quartet - Bad Kitty, Purgatori, Mistress Hel and Chastity|
THE VERDICT. I bloody well loved it! Yes, every single page! In fact, I'd go so far to say that this is one of the best TPBs I have ever read! Obviously, my main focus was upon Vampirella and she was well served in terms of screen time, scripting and artwork. The team up between Vampi and Jennifer Blood worked extremely well. Jennifer, by the way, is very much a female version of the Punisher from Marvel Comics. Some of the team-ups seemed a little odd, like Dejah Thoris and Irene Adler, but worked surprisingly well. What made this series work so brilliantly was the quality of the writing. Gail collected the best female writers in the business and got them to pull out all the stops, making full use of their talent and energy. Obviously with so many artists working on the series the artwork varies but thankfully, none of it is sub-standard. Overall, the quality is good to very good. Going back to Gail's introduction, she wrote, "for THIS crossover, I didn't want the usual boring stuff. I wanted a rough and tumble, fun and sexy, scary and action-packed classic epic. Subtlety be damned. I wanted something that felt like the creators of all these characters got together in a room after a three-day bender and just JAMMED. So that's what we did. We assembled a team of the best writers and artists we could find and just threw every firecracker we could right into the gunpowder factory. I hope you like it." Oh, I did! I liked it very much! In fact I like it enough to award it a 9 out of 10 rating. Why not a 10 out of 10? The artwork, whilst uniformly good, could have been improved by a higher calibre of artists. That said, I have no hesitation in recommending this TPB to any one with even a passing interest in comics. Ultimately though, how much you will want to buy this will depend very much on how you feel about the characters portrayed within its pages and also your feelings on "girl power." This book is ALL about girl power and I certainly don't have a problem with that!
Swords of Sorrow: The Complete Saga costs £22.50 from Amazon UK but I suggest you do what I did and check out the list of sellers offering new or old copies on behalf of Amazon. I got a new copy for just £12, saving me over a tenner from the official Amazon price. That was an absolute bargain for such a hefty tome!