Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Sword #2

I wonder how this series would read if the art were more expressive. The characters display emotion, but everything seems restrained. Maybe that adds to a feeling of the bizarre. Or, maybe it limits the emotional impact of the events.

If you're not familiar with the Luna Brothers' style of art, it's been described as pastel painting. To me, it looks like cells from an animated movie. I haven't read about what effect they're trying to achieve. The coloring ads a lot of lighting to the art, but the line work is kind of minimal. The lines are equally weighted, like in the "clear line" style, but there isn't as much detail. I find myself wanting more detail in faces.

The story (spoilers ahead): It picks up right where #1 ended. Three strangers had burst into Dara's house, insisting that her father was somebody named Demetrios, and demanding that he give them "the sword." Her father plead ignorance of all that, so the three strangers, displaying superpowers, killed the family and set the house on fire. The floor gave way under Dara and she fell into an unfinished basement or crawlspace. Since Dara was in a wheelchair, the killers assumed she'd be killed in the fire, and left. However, Dara spotted a shortsword (roman legionaire style) protruding from the dirt. She grabbed it, and her paralysis was instantly cured.

Dara climbs out of the basement. She places the sword in each of her family memebers' hands, hoping that it will restore them to life the way it restored her ability to walk. Though quick thinking, this doesn't work. Dara's shirt catches on fire and she runs to the pond behind the house to put it out.

When the fire department and police show up, Dara decides not to tell them about the sword, or the superpowers of the killers. She had tossed the sword into the pond just as they were arriving. I think her legs are still healed, but she pretends to be paralyzed. The police wonder how she got to and from the pond without her wheelchair, but they don't pursue it much. Dara stays with her friend Julie.

Cut to the three killers. They've seen the reports on TV and know that Dara survived. They figure out that she has the sword. They argue a bit about whether they should go after her themselves, but ultimately decided that the situation is too hot and the sword too dangerous. Apparently the sword is very powerful, but maybe only when wielded by someone of this bloodline? It's too early to tell. They decided to send mercenaries to kidnap Dara and force her to tell them where the sword is. This scene felt a bit long, as it was all dialog, but it showed that these villains are smart and actually think ahead, which is nice. Smart characters are good.

The guy they hire to kidnap Dara is a real sleazeball. He sells drugs for one of the three, and is also involved in prostitution. The second panel he appears in shows him snorting cocaine off a hooker's breast. I'm not sure what the authors were trying to establish with this sequence. Maybe they wanted to show us that this guy is very bad, and therefore scary? But he comes across as merely a sleazy loser, and while he clearly has no regard for other people, he doesn't seem at all competent.

At her family's funeral, Dara learns some interesting stuff about her dad. He was an English professor. Some of his students are at the funeral, and they mention how they loved the stories he told about some ancient warrior called Demetrios, who was four thousand years old. Maybe Dara's father really was the Demetrios that the three killers were looking for, but he had partially lost his memories? So, he didn't know who he really was (thinking he was just a normal person), but the memories of his immortal life were leaking out through fiction? Or, maybe he was just pretending not to know what the killers were talking about, and isn't really dead? That would make him a very despicable villain, since he let his family be murdered rather than give up the sword.

The issue closes with the mercenaries, armed with uzis and such, about to jump out of a van and kidnap Dara.

I'm less sold on this series after this issue than i was after the first. The visuals just don't convey the drama that the script implies. The sleazy villain is a big turn off, too. He's not even an entertaining villain, he's the kind you hope gets killed at the earliest opportunity just to get him out of the story. I'll pick up issue three, and decide whether to continue with the series based on how that one goes.