(Editor's Note: This interview is spoiler-free for those Newsarama readers who follow the series in trade paperback.)
Just like its namesake swiftly slices through enemies, The Sword slashed any expectations last month with a shocking cliffhanger that left readers stunned.
Now fans of the series are anticipating this week's final issue of The Sword, hoping for an explanation for the surprising revelation in last month's issue #23, along with the conclusion to the heroic protagonist's journey.
Created by brothers Jonathan and Joshua Luna (Ultra, Girls) for Image Comics, The Sword tells the story of Dara Brighton, an innocent, young paraplegic who uses a magic sword to avenge her family's murder. Over the course of the series, Dara has battled three superpowered murderers, traveling with two friends in tow and slowly uncovering the mystery of how her father's life was entwined with all three.
It all comes to an end this week with the oversized The Sword #24, finishing yet another of the Luna's unique collaborative stories. Newsarama checked in with Jonathan and Joshua to look back at what The Sword has meant to them, and to find out what they hope it will mean to readers.
Nrama: Jonathan and Josh, issue #22 had a really shocking moment, but issue #23 topped it. Without spoiling anything for any of your "trade waiting" fans that might be reading this, have you seen the reaction from readers to this latest twist? And what do you think of how it's been received?
Josh: We’ve gotten feedback from quite a few fans so far, and the general consensus seems to be that no one really saw that final page of #23 coming.
Jonathan: We’ve received a lot of good feedback about the final page of #23. It’s definitely been rewarding.
Nrama: It's hard to imagine that the final issue can get more exciting, but it's obviously going to give us some details behind this latest revelation. How would you describe the last issue, and is there anything you can tell us about what to expect?
Jonathan: The final issue absolutely gives you details behind the latest revelation and ties up everything else. It’s an ending we’ve been excited to tell for the past two and a half years that the series ran. We hope everyone enjoys it.
Nrama: Just like the final issue of Girls was oversized, you're making the final issue of The Sword 40 pages. Is that because there's just so much story to tell? Or did you decide that, instead of spreading it out to 25 issues, you wanted this final explanation and conclusion all in one story?
Josh: Both. A 25th issue was never even an option for us. We realized there was more story to tell in issue #24, but not enough to fill an additional issue. We didn’t want the ending to be long and drawn out. Best to keep it concise and contained.
Nrama: We've talked before about the overall theme of this series, but now that we've read most of it (and you've written it all), what is the main idea behind the story you're telling? What are you exploring with The Sword?
Jonathan: The main themes are power and revenge, and how the two are intertwined. Power comes in different forms in the story, such as supernatural abilities, socially, politically, and obviously the sword. We explore how these powers affect the characters’ decisions and how those decisions affect other people.
Nrama: One of the most interesting things this series explored was the unique motivation behind, and relationships between, the main three villains. When you came up with the personalities and interrelationships of Malia, Zakros and Knossos, were you hoping to examine specific human attributes or emotions? Or did they just kind of arise naturally as the story evolved?
Josh: When conceptualizing the story, we thought it’d be interesting if their personalities and motivations correlated with each of the elements they controlled. Zakros, the water-god, was a more fluid character — in terms of his direction in life and even his sexuality when it came to his own sister. Knossos, the rock-god, was unwaveringly devout and faithful to his god and becomes a literal and figurative “rock.” Malia, the air-goddess, represents the things you cannot touch. Her power over wind and electricity is obviously devastating, but her words do as much damage, if not more.
Nrama: We talked last time about how this series hasn't been as black and white as the original issue implied it would be. Will those "blurred lines" between good and evil continue in this final issue? What are you hoping the story says about that idea?
Jonathan: We tried to make it black and white, and we absolutely prefer Dara to be the protagonist, but, yes, the villains are very empathetic, as well. Villains never think that what they’re doing is bad. The “blurred lines” will definitely continue into the final issue. In the end, everyone should be able to relate to every character’s story — that’s our only hope in that context.
Nrama: The Sword has been particularly violent. Were you ever hesitant to go down some of those more violent roads? Or was the idea all along to take this series to that level?
Josh: We were never hesitant. Normal swords alone inflict a good amount of damage, so if our story was going to depict a magic sword forged by demigods… we knew the gore factor was pretty unavoidable. But of course, we wouldn’t depict gore for gore’s sake. It has to serve the story, and we wanted to tell a truthful story asking “what would really happen if this particular sword existed in our world?” And the answer is: a crap-load of violence.
Nrama: We talked at the end of Girls about how you missed those characters when you finished writing them. Do you find yourself missing the characters from The Sword? And is there any chance we'll see these characters again?
Jonathan: We’ve been done with the last issue for a week or two now, and we’re definitely missing the characters. It was tough doing #24. I doubt we’ll ever see these characters again. The story is finite.
Nrama: I think we also talked before about how you handle interest from Hollywood for your series. Do you still avoid that type of thing while you're writing the comic? And has there been any interest in The Sword?
Josh: There certainly is a good amount of interest from Hollywood, which seemed to accumulate as the series progressed over the past two years.
We’ll definitely talk to people while we’re working on a series, but we won’t sell anything until it’s complete and the final issue is literally on the stands. Our properties are our babies, so we’re extremely careful with how we handle them.
Jonathan: Yeah, it’s been incredibly important to us that the fans get to read it before it reaches the screen, large or small, and that whoever is interested in the rights has a full understanding of what the story is.
Nrama: Could you see it as a movie? Did you have that in mind at all when you were writing it?
Jonathan: We can see it as a film or television series. The story is episodic, so TV would be a great fit, but film obviously offers a higher budget for special effects, which we have high standards for.
I tend to tell my stories very cinematically, so an adaptation was definitely in mind.
Nrama: What comes next for you two? At the conclusion of Girls, you already had The Sword in mind as your next project. Do you have another comic book in mind? Or is there a break coming to figure out what's next?
Josh: We have a definite project that will be released as soon as possible, but we also have a few other ideas that are too early in development to really talk about yet. I like to tell myself that I’ll be taking a break every time we finish a series, but it never really happens. I think I have chip in my brain that won’t allow me to stop making comics, even for a day.
Nrama: How are you guys handling the excitement over this final issue? You've got some release parties coming up, right? Are you looking forward to seeing what people think of the conclusion?
Jonathan: We’re having wrap parties in New York City (Midtown Comics Grand Central on May 13th) and Los Angeles (Golden Apple on May 14th), and we’re very excited about them. It should be a fun time, and a great way to hang with the fans that have supported The Sword for the past couple years. And we absolutely can’t wait to see what people think of the conclusion.
Nrama: Then just to wrap up, what are your overall thoughts about your experience working on The Sword as the series finishes?
Josh: We want to thank the fans and retailers, first and foremost, for supporting The Sword for the past two years. It’s not easy to put out a creator-owned book, so making it to Issue #24 really couldn’t have been a possibility without all of you. It’s just a very rewarding feeling for us to create something from scratch and complete it, and we just hope everyone enjoys the conclusion.