Well, I was very excited for this book. Seeing Gail Simone’s name on a book of female warrior heroes, I was pretty sure that this would be another great story with strong women in strong roles. Sadly, I was wrong.
The story: A whole bunch of strong female characters, some I am familiar with (Vampirella, Dejah Thoris, Red Sonja) and many that I am not so familiar with (Purgatori, Lady Demon, Chastity, Jennifer Blood, and many others), are being paired up in teams by someone called The Traveller to save the world from The Prince (of Darkness), who is getting his own team of monsters together to fight the female champions. But pairing up these strong, independent women is not going to be easy. First, they need to find a way to not kill each other before they can fight together.
And…that’s pretty much it. Each woman is plucked from her home world and plopped down with another woman warrior. They see each other as opponents for a bit but come to respect each others’ abilities and fight off some real enemies.
Okay…so the plot is pretty weak, but the working of the story could still be done well. Unfortunately, it isn’t. This is a 500+ page graphic novel, which might be one of the longest I’ve ever read (though I must admit here that I haven’t read the entire thing … the Advance Reading Copy that I was given stops at page 413), and it is so incredibly repetitive that I could practically write the dialog myself based on the first segment. Woman meets woman. Comments on strange attire. Sees other woman as a threat. Fight. Common enemy arrives. Fight side by side. Admit respect for other woman despite strange attire. Repeat.
If the repetitive nature of the stories isn’t enough to scare off the reader, a complete lack of understanding of the characters by the writers might do the trick. I nearly put the book down when Red Sonja (a warrior from the ‘Hyborian’ age [which takes place before the beginning of recorded history according to creator Robert E. Howard]) goes back further in time to team up with Jungle Girl and Red Sonja has to explain quips and puns to Jungle Girl. Where do I begin with what’s wrong with this?!
There is a moment, around page 300 when a number of the women come together and it feels as though we might actually be working toward a climax that could be exciting, but it is only a temporary build in the story. I will hope that there is another crescendo to the story in the last 100 pages that I didn’t read, but it hardly matters…there isn’t enough build in this story as it is to make it interesting enough to read.
The art is extremely hit-or-miss. There is some really beautiful art:
And there is some art that is rather terrible:
(Yes…that’s our Red Sonja above – she kind of looks like Red Sonja as imagined by a Disney version for elementary students.)
And there’s pretty much everything in between these two styles. While the story is predictable and repetitive, the art is wildly un-predictable. I most definitely would not buy this book just for the art. In fact, I just plain wouldn’t buy this book. It is a huge disappointment. Such a great opportunity to really have these great female characters shine, but instead they all seem pretty much alike, doing pretty much nothing. Such a waste.
Looking for a good book? Swords of Sorrow Complete Collection Volume 1 is a massive graphic novel, at over 500 pages, and had great potential but falls flat with the story and the art.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Swords of Sorrow Complete Collection Volume 1
authors: Gail Simone, Emma Bebby, Marguerite Bennetm Nancy A. Collins, Mikki Kendall, Leah Moore, Mairghread Scott, Eric Schultz, G. Willow Wilson
artists: Sergio Davila, Dave Acosta, Mirka Andolfo, Ronilson Freire, Francesco Manna, Rod Rodolfo, Noah Salonga, Crizam Zamora
publisher: Dynamic Forces
paperback, 504 pages