by Joshua Luna (writer, letters, and layouts) and Jonathan Luna (art)

The Story: Malia makes her presence known to the world and a huge reveal is dropped regarding Demetrios’ secret history with one of the elemental siblings.

What’s Good: Wow…what an atom bomb of a reveal this month.  Not only is it a shocker, but it’s also one that feels natural rather than one that was done purely for shock’s sake.  Despite its gravity, it goes along with everything we’ve seen rather than running against contradictions.

Better still, the reveal changes the entire landscape of this final arc of the series, while also carrying a lot of emotion behind it.  It also suddenly makes this series a lot less black and white, which has probably been the biggest knock against the Sword thus far.  The series has followed a very rigid narrative structure, and this reveal threatens to shake all that up.  Things are suddenly a whole lot more grey, and as a result, the fight with Malia definitely won’t be a re-run of what we’ve seen with Knossos and Zakros.

And that’s what makes this issue great, really.  It takes a series that has been so structured and straightforward, and suddenly makes things a lot cloudier.  Better still, Dara, the unquestionable heroine of the series, suddenly seemed a lot less likable.  She’s spent the entire book as an incredibly sympathetic character and a definitive underdog.  This month, I found myself having a lot of trouble backing her.  As Julie brings up, Dara just isn’t the same.  She’s sounding increasingly like an irrationally, even two dimensionally, murderous character, increasingly empty and monotonous in her cries for blood.  Instead of sounding sympathetic, she just sounds violent, and that that loss of character is raised by Julie is a nice move by the Lunas.

Art-wise, if you like the Lunas as I do, you’ll like this book, as it’s really just more of the same, anime-tinged style.  However, if you’re of the minority that can’t abide their style, this won’t change your mind.

What’s Not So Good: The biggest problem with this book though is one of formatting.  Simply put, there is often just too damned many words on one page.  A couple pages of are absolutely swarmed with textboxes/captions, while other pages have some grotesquely over-sized word-bubbles.  I’m not someone known for having a low attention span, but at times, this did feel like a bit of a chore.

One of the most wordy sections is Malia’s telling of her history, which is of course distorted to make her look good.  I found this overly drawn-out and also completely uninspired.  Essentially, take the entire history of Demetrios, and remove Malia from it.  That’s her story.  That her brothers were bad, and she never ever stood with them.  That’s it.  Not only is it not a believable story, but also I expected the Lunas to be able to come up with something better for such a cunning character.

Finally, as has at times been the case with the Sword, some things happen just a little too conveniently.  Why is it that everyone in Mexico that Dara runs into can speak absolutely perfect English?  What are the odds of a random cop Dara takes hostage knowing the location of a nearby private jet field that can carry them to NYC?

Conclusion: A change of pace, but a generally good one that shakes up the whole series.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans