I'm not very proud about it.
It started out quite innocently. I swear.
I was packing the last few things into my carry-on bag before heading out to the airport. iPhone. Make-up. Book. And I looked over and saw Volume 1 of The Sword. You know, it was a holiday week. I didn't have to read anything. Besides, I'm still pondering what super hero to date next. And I'm trying to patiently await my "second dates" with the few lookers I've seen once already.
But..it was my vacation. I just wanted to have a little fun. I'm pretty terrified of flying and I needed an easy distraction. I grabbed The Sword and figured that, even if did touch it, I'd just read the second issue. Just one story. That's it. (Honestly, I've taken collections with me before in the hopes that I'd read them and I never do. I figured this would be the same thing.) As long as I didn't tell any of the others, it would be fair.
We're on the plane, and just about to approach our cruising altitude. I was fiddling around with my phone - Scrabble? Chess? Music? And, well, I....I.....I pulled out the book i'd brought. I looked at it for a bit. But the Sword was right there, and look, I've been wanting to read the The Sword # 2 since I finished #1. And, hey, isn't this all about me finding something I like? Am I rationalizing? Sure I am. Sure I am. I mean, like I said, it was innocent. At first.
I didn't fully recall the first issue's plot. The overall idea, yes, but not every detail. So while reading the second issue, I went back to see, oh yeah, Dara, the main character, was a paraplegic. So, not only did she find the sword, the same sword that a trio of super-powered strangers had murdered her family to find themselves, but the sword had the power to heal her! And then, at her father's funeral, she met one of her father's students, and he started telling her that her father had all these cool stories about a guy named Demetrios and his sword?!? (Oh, and I can't deny the entertainment value of the biker-dude-hitman that one of the evil strangers calls upon to send after Dara. His low-class, coke-sniffin', whore-doin' demeanor juxtaposed to the sleekness of, well, everyone and everything else in this book, including the art, was hilarious.) And after getting all that information, here comes the intrigue. I mean, the second issue was over so fast. So fast. I've never read a comic book this fast before, and I mean both "me reading fast" and "super fast paced". I was just getting into it. And how's it end? There's Dara, in her wheelchair, at her families funeral, about to be killed?!
And as I turned the page to start # 3....I felt like a bit of a tart. As if I'd told myself that if the second date went well, there would be a goodnight kiss. A provocative goodnight kiss. But JUST A KISS. And instead, I'm like, at the bar making out with him within the first hour of the date.
I COULDN'T STOP.
(I'm not just saying this because of the style that I'm using to write this review. That's how I felt, sitting on that plane, turning those pages. I felt like I was tipsy, and maybe I was doing something I might regret later but ohgod it felt good right now, so shut-up-brain.)
I jumped into #3, and all kinds of shit goes down. Dara is abducted by these dudes dressed as cops. She ends up kicking their collective asses and escaping, shocking a whole bunch of people. Not only is she strong, but SHE CAN WALK. Sure, I knew she could walk. So did Dara. But nobody else did--none of her friends, none of the people at the funeral--and when they see her start moving, you can see how shocked they all are.
She's grabs her friends, jumps in the car and is chased back to her house where she runs into the lake to find The Sword. And holy shit, as she pulls it from the water, and I turn the page, an audible gasp escaped my mouth - on the airplane - at the sight of the sword cutting straight through the three men standing there. I mean, you gotta see this picture. These pages had me knocked out by Amazing.
I don't think Dara even knew that she was about to do that. And then what happens next? As some other guys come for her she catapults - Bionic Woman style -- hundreds of feet into the air. Just flies!! And after she lands, she doesn't just kick ass, she fucking annihilates the other men. One mere punch detaches an entire jaw. Her friend nearly dies, but is healed by the power of the sword, and Dara terminates the Douche Bag coke-sniffin', whore-doin', hitman, and THEN....the cops arrive. They're there to investigate the death of her family, to find Dara, the paraplegic, standing with a sword in her hand as she just finished off the last of the five men. HOLY SHIT.
And it ends there!
Do you expect me to stop? Could you? Would you? I mean, at this point I feel like a fifteen-year-old saying, "okay, let's take off our clothes but the underwear stays on. I mean it!" and hoping to go to third base so I can tell my girlfriends what it's like. All sense of appropriateness and correctness has flown out the window. This is not mere romance. This is a torrid, heated, passionate affair. And I'M NOT STOPPING!
Sword # 4: Dara becomes a suspect in her family's murder. She, her friend and the guy from her Dad's class are now fugitives on the run. (This is crazy! Four issues in, and it's already had huge family tragedy, extensive backstory set a in long-ago past, huge, high deathcount fight scene, and now it's The Fugitive.) All Dara wants to do is talk to the guy about the stories her dad told in class so that she can get some information. But the three of them--Dara, the boy, and Dara's friend--get blocked by the cops on all sides. But does she surrender? No way! Our heroine starts to repel bullets with the sword. She is shot and is down, her friends are worried, but then the sword heals her, and she tells them that she's going to distract the police and the two of them need to get away. And then she distracts them with another Bionic Woman Jump. Those jumps are drawn in a really cool way, there's something about the way it's all blurry that makes it look and feel like it really happened...I can't explain it. "Really happened?" That doesn't make any sense, sorry.
This is a lot of plot stuff, so let me take a break for a second. At no time so far has anything in this story been boring or repetitive. Nothing seemed to me operated in a predictable way. I was anticipating what would happen next, as is easy to do. But I was never disappointed or bored or felt like I was reading through another boring subplot while waiting to get back to the good stuff. That's gotta be a definiton of well done.
And I'm not done yet, people. Not at all. Let's just say it. In this date I essentially joined The Mile High club. I looked over at my husband, sneered, and went all the way.
In issue 5, the whole government subplot goes down in a kind of 24 style, with some division of the FBI stepping in and faking Dara's death, all to put her and the sword into observation. One of the agents gets overcome by his curiosity and touches the sword with his bare hands, is overcome with it's transformative power, and he becomes a younger and more powerful version of himself. It's looking bad for Dara, actually. The agent slices his two colleagues with the sword and just as he's about to kill Dara, another agent (in her last act before dying, of course), shoots the guy. (The agent who does this is severed nearly in half...I'm not sure how it's possible. I loved it nevertheless, I've barred the door to logic.) Now, of course, it looks like Dara somehow killed all three of them. Who cares! Time for escape! Let the government dead bury their government dead!
In issue 6 she finally gets back to her friends and we hear the whole mythic story of how the sword came to be and who her father was. I don't know if this story is based around some well-known myth or if it is totally made up by the Luna Brothers, although I'd bet they came up with it. I think it's completely genius. I mean, it's got some supernatural parts to it that aren't usually my thing, but in the context of this story, I loved it. Completely and totally.
I finished Volume 1 with half of a my flight left. I'm shocked by how swept away I was! Are my expecations too high now? I had wondered if the second issue could possibly deliver as much as the first. And it did, but it also gave me an experience with comic books that I've never had, mostly due to the manner in which I've read them. I picked this. It was mine. I brought it with me on a trip because I thought I might like it, not because I wanted to write about it or talk to my husband about it. And I read it, cover to cover, and I acted like a crazy person who talks to themselves when they're reading while on a plane, and no, I've never done that before. And no, I don't know that I believed I was ever going to. I had wondered if a story could sustain this level of energy and originality and intrigue and action and fun....and so far it has. Will Volume 2 be as good as Volume 1?
You know...it's sitting in my living room right now. It has been for a week. I've been trying to be a good girl. Really.
We'll see what happens. But I'll tell you what, if you're looking for a thrilling, original, edge-of-your-seat, read with compelling yet easy-on-the-eyes artwork, you've got to pick up The Sword. I promise, it will be good to you and keep you coming back for more.
-Nina Stone, 2010