by Joshua Luna (writer & letterer) and Jonathan Luna (art)

The Story: Dara’s battle with the Earth god Knossos comes to its brutal and bloody conclusion.

What’s Good: Goddamn this was a brutal comic.  Once again, the Lunas prove that the Sword is sharp.  Damn sharp.  Limbs fly and people are gutted.  That said, it’s not brutal in a “random people exploding all over the place” sort of way.  It’s brutal because every single act of violence is loaded with emotional intent.  Every chopped limb actually means something.

The sheer scope and size of the battle is nothing short of ridiculous.  Its impossible to talk about the story of this issue without also mentioning the artwork, as the two go hand in hand in depicting the battle.  The Lunas do an amazing job of conveying the size of Knossos and the unbelievable odds against which Dara is fighting.  It’s the sort of awe-inspiring stuff  we’ve come to expect, and it leads to some unforgettable images.

I also loved the ending of the issue, which delivers a twist that provides the landscape for the coming battle with Malia.  It really is an unexpected turn that reshapes the world of the Sword.  It also guarantees that this series will have a very different feel as it heads into its last arc, and that the battle with Malia will be like none before; this time, with the world watching.  Not running the risk of repetition, the Lunas have changed the rules in shocking fashion.

What’s Not-So-Good: Unfortunately, the bottom-line is that this battle just wasn’t as fun as the one with Zakros.  In that battle, I marveled at the sheer creativity of the Lunas, giving the gods endless ways to use their powers.  Not so much in this issue, which sees Knossos stay in his rock man form.  It’s just a little more one dimensional than I’ve come to expect.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of Malia’s continued interference in Dara’s battle.  It made the conflict between Knossos and Dara feel less personal and less important.  The one-on-one dynamic was lost and thus so too was some of the impact.  I wanted Dara vs Knossos, and having it be Dara and Malia vs Knossos needlessly diluted the conflict.

The rock man form is also a bit of a double-edged sword as well.  While it provides some amazing visuals and an incredible obstacle for Dara, it also means that Knossos is encased in a giant suit of rock, unable to exchange banter with Dara while the fight goes on, which was part of what made the Zakros fight so awesome.  The one exchange of words at the end of the fight is perhaps the high point of the issue only serves to illustrate this fact.

Conclusion: By no means a bad conclusion, but it wasn’t quite as personal as we’ve come to expect.

Grade: B-

-Alex Evans