Over the course of three years and twenty-four issues, the Luna Brothers (Joshua and Jonathan) carved out a revenge tale cleaving its way from ancient history to modern times. In the Image series The Sword, a wheelchair-bound young woman finds out she can walk – and a whole lot more – when a touching a sword – but it’s a sword she found shortly after finding her family murdered. The Sword turns into a revenge tale out of classic crime fiction like Donald E. Westlake’s The Hunter turned on its head with sword and sorcery, carving out a new kind of vengeance.
The Sword concluded its run earlier this year with wrap parties on both the East and West Coast, but for trade-waiters and people who want it all in one book – the final piece of the puzzle is coming out. On November 17th, Image will release The Sword: The Complete Collection Deluxe Hardcover, comprised of all twenty-four issues and all their covers, including rare variant covers. For die-hard fans, a limited run of 200 will be signed and numbered by Jonathan & Joshua Luna, who will also include an exclusive print. With the series done and the brothers putting the final touches on this final send-off of the series, Newsarama caught up with them.
Newsarama: This November, the Complete collected edition of The Sword will be out - 624 pages signifying your work over the past three years. What's it like to not only have the final issue out, the wrap parties done, but having this finished brick of a book coming soon?
Jonathan Luna: It was incredibly relieving. And it still is. We were very excited about the revelations in the end. It was a little difficult keeping them secret. And it’s always a great feeling to hold a giant hardcover that encompasses all that work. We’re very excited about its release in November.
Joshua Luna: I’m reeling from the fact that three years have gone by, but it’s very rewarding to have accomplished those things and to add another chapter in our career with The Sword. And I’m sure I will be completely relieved once it’s all done, but I’m currently proofreading all 624 pages for the big hardcover.
Nrama: Since this series was about a sword, do either of you own a sword or used one for 'research'?
Joshua: After the series was completed, my brother actually commissioned blacksmiths to forge a replica of the sword in the book. It was more for the sake of “having something cool” than research.
Nrama: [laughs] Jonathan, can you tell us about that?
Jonathan: During creating the series, we didn’t own a sword. I thought about buying one, but obviously there weren’t any swords out there that looked exactly like ours. Whenever I needed a reference for how to swing a sword, I used a long cardboard tube. After the completion of the series, I commissioned a blacksmith to make us a replica of the sword in the book. We used it for fans to play with at the NY and LA wrap parties.
Nrama: In addition to all 24 issues, what other extras does it have?
Joshua: All covers of each issue (including trade paperbacks and second printings). There will also be another special hardcover edition which will include an exclusive signed print, limited to 200 copies.
Nrama: Revenge was a big theme in The Sword, something we hadn't seen in or to near this degree. What led you tell this kind of revenge story for a daughter and her family's murder?
Joshua: We grew up watching a lot of revenge-themed movies, and we always enjoyed how an initially weak and victimized protagonist somehow finds the strength to seek revenge against overwhelmingly powerful opponents. So, when creating our revenge story, we really wanted to explore the extremes of the power spectrum. We wanted our victim/protagonist , Dara, to be the least likely candidate to avenge her family’s murder. And we wanted the murderers to be so powerful, the thought of killing them would seem impossible. So, we made Dara a paraplegic art student. And the killers, demi-gods.
Jonathan: I’m a huge fan of . And I love . I think those two sparked inspiration for me wanting to tell a revenge tale. And I kept having images in my head of a girl kicking ass with a sword and fighting incredibly powerful foes. Josh and I brainstormed and came about.
Nrama: One of the hallmarks of your work has been these big cliffhangers and shocks - reminding me of Brian K. Vaughn and some of Shamalyan's best work. Can you tell us about your ideas about using cliffhangers and picking how and when to drop these bombshells in your storytelling?
Joshua: I was told early in my career that my only duty as a comic writer was to make people keep turning the pages. So, for me, the cliffhangers or reveals don’t stop at the final page of each issue. I got very anal with this concept and wanted each page and even each panel to be mini-cliffhangers that fed the big ones. But there’s a rhythm to it. Not every panel and page can be equally exciting, otherwise it would defeat the purpose and become repetitive and boring. For me, knowing when to drop the bombshells is just a matter of really knowing your story and when to either tease or reveal. Once you figure that out, it comes rather naturally.
Nrama: Over the course of your career you haven't done much work-for-hire, instead doing creator-owned work mostly. The biggest thing you did was at Marvel some time back. Can you tell us about that decision, and if that'll remain the same moving forward?
Jonathan: Spider-Woman was a blast. I was and am a huge fan of Brian Bendis, so when he called me up and asked me to illustrate it, I couldn’t say no. That was also the most stressful time of my life. I was also working on . And I put each book out on time, monthly. I’m open to work-for-hire, but creating my own work is something I’d like to do for most of my life.
Joshua: was a great opportunity. I only provided layouts for it and have never been tapped to write or draw work-for-hire, so I don’t anticipate it in the near future. I’m not opposed to it, but I really do love creating my own work.
Nrama: On your website, you posted that you two are "experimenting with our own separate stuff for a while". Can you tell us about that decision, and what we can expect?
Joshua: Not many of our readers know this, but I was actually an illustrator long before I even attempted to write. I even planned on drawing comics after graduating art school, but my brother and I needed a writer. So I basically became one out of necessity and had to put my drawing aspirations on the backburner. After The Sword ended, we decided we both wanted to work on personal projects we’ve both put aside for a while.
Jonathan: Josh has first been an illustrator, and it’s been unfortunate that everyone hasn’t been able to see that for the past six years. So, he’ll working on something solo. During my sabbatical, I’ve been playing with painting, photography, and video. I’ll reveal what I’m doing when the time is right.
Joshua: I’m currently working on a comic that I will be both writing and drawing. It’s strange because I’ve been working in the industry for about six years now, but taking on a solo project feels like I’m starting all over again. It’s very exciting though.
Nrama: After the release of the final issue, you had two wrap parties only twenty-four hours but 2700 miles apart. Can you tell us about that experience, and the parties as well?
Joshua: We had a blast. It’s always great when we get to meet and chat with our readers. And Midtown Comics and Golden Apple were amazingly generous for having us. Throughout the course of The Sword’s run, we generated a good amount of Hollywood interest and developed long-distance relationships with various people in that world. A lot of them showed up at the L.A. signing, so that was a nice surprise for us as well as our readers.
Jonathan: The wrap parties were amazing. The fans that came were incredibly sweet and excited to celebrate the completion of The Sword with us. We’re very grateful to them, as well as Midtown Comics, Golden Apple, and Image Comics.
Shortly after the trip, I put together a video of it which you can watch here:
Nrama: After completing such massive series as and The Sword, do either of you have any sort of ritual or come-down process - any celebration at home of finishing the final piece of the final page?
Jonathan: I don’t think we’ve ever privately celebrated finishing a series. We’re just happy to be able to sit down on the couch and watch a movie.
Joshua: I celebrate by getting sleep. Good, quality REM sleep.Are you picking up the complete collection?