Writer(s): Luna Brothers
Artist(s): Luna Brothers
Publisher: Image comics, 2007
A young handicapped woman witnesses her family being butchered in front of her eyes. Upon dying, she touches a sword that gives her incredible healing powers and strength. Now she embarks on a mission of… what else… revenge.
Brothers Joshua Luna and Jonathan Luna have a unique synergy when it comes to comic book creation. Both siblings seem to be able to take up both roles or writer and artists, but after having worked in Ultra and Spiderwoman: Origin they seem to have spread the tasks, where Joshua scripts and Jonathan takes care of the art.
Their latest graphic story saw light under the imprint of Image and it narrates a convoluted story of myth, revenge and superhuman feats, in an otherwise normal world.
Notice what I did just there: summarize without giving away much. And let me qualify what makes this graphic novel such a pleasure to read.
Although I may have stated the story to be convoluted, I mean in essence. Not in fact or in development. No one with half a brain will be confused by the events narrated in this graphic novel, although the events themselves are not something simple to summarize.
Writers!! Take note! This is how complex storytelling gets done. The end result has to be something readily accessible to all.
That, my friends, is not easy.
Another aspect worthy of praise is the unique knack these two artists have of transposing otherworldly events into our everyday life, and make the consequences and the people affected by them, an interesting part of the story.
When I analyze a graphic novel, I usually end up giving more relevance to one aspect of the work, either the story or the art, sometimes even the color. It is part of my nature to dissect how things work and evaluate them. This is one of those rare pieces of work where the art is totally at even score with the writing. They both enhance the narrative in their own unique ways and I would venture to say they also do it in similar degree.
The cleanliness of the traces in the art of the Luna Brothers is something worthy of imitation. They relegate flashy panel setup and clever page composition for the sake of telling the story in the cleanest and the most uncluttered way possible. There isn’t a single panel in all of the Luna Brothers major works where I had to look twice at a panel to figure out what something was. They don’t rely on shadowing to obfuscate the complicated parts of the art, like I see a lot of up and coming artists do. The color works as a compliment to the story, and a compliment to the art, but it is not also something that stands out by itself, something that takes over the visual effect of the graphic novel.
In general it is refreshing and rewarding to sometimes read a graphic novel that is well written, where the art is there in function of the narrative, complementing it, and where the color is also another device used to tell the story. We can read something that John Byrne worked on, and wind up buying it because Byrne draw it.
Or we can buy something that Mark Waid or Garth Ennis wrote, but they got paired with an artist that is not to our liking because they put too much personality (or personal style) into the art of the story. That work as a double edge sword. You may like the style or you may not like it, and it already prejudice you versus liking it and getting into it, just because the style is not as good as you wish. That is your personal taste as a reader, it your taste is influenced by a endless number of factors.
I have not met yet a single person who found the art of the Luna Brothers “off-putting”. I found some who were indifferent, some who wished it had more “spark” more “personality” and then found troves of people who love it.
And don’t just buy this book for the precise, clean and masterful art. The story is extremely well paced, and it carries the right crescendos and the right staccatos of action throughout the book. One thing that the Luna Brothers do masterfully well, despite their young ages is blending the real world and the fantastic world. I am constantly mesmerized reading about the fantastic hero or the fantastic circumstances (In “Girls” they kept us in suspense pertaining the origins of the bad gals, as well as the reactions of the town’s people regarding the events taking place, while in “The Sword” they kept us enthralled telling us the background and origins of the bad guys) but then they up the ante by showing me how those actions, whether they are super-powered fights, or villain-hero confrontations, affect the normal public, the farmer from Iowa, the shopkeeper in rural road in Texas, etc.
They take an unprecedented care in showing these interactions, the super vs. the normal, and they are able to synthesize the most important part of that interaction and then they convey it to us, by threading it into the story. And they do it in a more cohesive and blended way, more intrinsic to the story that using shock vignettes that some other authors tend to use (Garth Ennis comes to mind).
So yes, this is new, this is good, this is a piece of graphic storytelling done with love, inventiveness and professionalism, and it is the contribution of two young minds that are still beginning to peak.
I expect great things from them.
So, on my Critics rating, The Sword gets