Ever since I was a kid, I was an obsessive completist – to a fault. There were periods of time where I thought about nothing but getting every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure and vehicle. After that, it was Jurassic Park toys, and then The Lion King merch. That sort of (entirely geeky) need to catch ‘em all has spread into how I collect comics as well. Rather than latching onto specific titles or franchises though, I get super into writers and artists. If I really dig what a creator’s work on a title, it’s on. I’ll get everything that they do, no matter what it is. As far as comics go, the Luna Brothers are at the very top of my list. From Girls to Ultra to Whispers to Alex + Ada, whatever Joshua and Jonathan Luna touch, either together or respectively, is must read material.
It’s The Sword that stands above the rest, though.
The Sword #1 was released from Image Comics in October 2007. The Luna Brothers plotted it together, and Joshua wrote the scripts, drew the layouts, and lettered it, with Jonathan doing the final illustrations and design. It ran for twenty-four issues, though I didn’t discover it until I found the first trade at my local shop. At that point, I hadn’t read any of the Lunas’ stuff, but their artwork – simple, graceful, strong – caught my eye and kept it. I blazed through the first trade, shocked by writing that is reminiscent of Brian K. Vaughan’s intensely readable, subtly complex storytelling I’d fallen in love with earlier. Beyond comparisons to BKV, The Sword’s style was very much its own – paced in a way that makes it damn near impossible to stop reading without ever forcing any drama or conflict.
The story follows Dara Brighton, a young disabled woman whose life is flipped upside down when a group of people with horrific powers invade her house in search of a sword, killing her entire family as they do so. Dara finds the sword and – without giving away much – touching it allows her to not only step out of her wheelchair… but fly. As Dara goes on a journey with her friends to discover the truth about the sword and the lies her father told her, she becomes a hero unlike any I’ve ever read. The four volumes that make up The Sword tell Dara’s story in its entirety, painting what is no short of a modern myth.
The genius of The Sword is that it’s a superhero comic without the post-modern meta commentary that most creator-owned superhero comics offer. Dara Brighton becomes a hero on par with any of Marvel and DC’s icons, but it never once feels like she’s larger than life – she’s the girl next door. She’s the girl on her way to get a chai tea latte from Starbucks. She’s you, she’s me – she’s any of us.
And she’s a hero.
PAT SHAND writes comics (Robyn Hood, Family Pets, Charmed: Season Ten) and pop culture journalism (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics). You can find him at patshand.tumblr.com, where he obsessively reblogs gifs and any cat picture he can find.