Swords of Sorrow: Red Sonja Vs Jungle Girl is part of Dynamite’s all-female written summer event starring their top female characters. This issue is written by Marguerite Bennett and drawn by Mirka Andolfo. Marguerite did this writer’s commentary on the issue.
First page, we just wanted a quick opening to catch up readers who may not be following the whole of the crossover, or those who are and needed a swift reminder of Sonja’s location, tasks, and motivation. She and Dejah Thoris discovered that these portals are engineered, and Sonja takes it upon herself to go find the villain and chop of their head, while Dejah turns back to protect her people in their hour of need—fairly informative of character, too.
PAGE TWO – PAGE THREE
If you can, always make Page Two a splash. Dirty writer trick. Tighten tension on Page One and unlock it on Page Two.
PAGE FOUR – PAGE FIVE
Or, regarding splash pages, go overboard.
I wanted to write a pulp comic—a visual feast, big fat colorful panels. Here we see the jungle, the ice storm, the dinosaurs, and Sonja—four things that should not collide. We’ve got a gorgeous world, but a world clearly out of balance—maybe more beautiful for the disharmony, but decidedly less stable and more dangerous. I was really looking forward to this spread and Mirka’s fantastic.
PAGE SIX – PAGE SEVEN
Poor Sonja. The spirit was willing, but the plot is causing you trouble. Pixar Rules: Coincidence can get your character into trouble, but it cannot get them out.
Fortunately, Sonja loves trouble.
PAGE EIGHT – PAGE NINE
Cheesecakey, if your cheesecake could occasionally murder you. I actually rather like good cheesecake when it’s in most pulp comics—context, personhood, and execution are everything, though. You can tell me if I succeeded or not.
Jana also only got the drop on Sonja because Sonja just went from zero gravity back to insane humidity and dehydration. Jana is actually not a very capable fighter—she’s more skilled at hunting, tracking, and misdirection.
Also, I think I quoted Lion King’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” to Mirka regarding Sonja and Jana’s tumble down that hillside and wiggled my eyebrows at her. God bless Mirka.
I also really enjoy wordplay and archaic insults. I took far, far too many Linguistics classes in school and there is an alternate timeline where I became a linguist. Sonja’s “well-traveled barbarian” complements Jana’s cheerful ignorant innocence well, too—personality is everything when you’re baring this much skin.
Awwwww, making friends! Friendship is magic, you guys, don’t you watch MY LITTLE PONY?
Yup, and there’s Mistress Hel, wishing she were cool like Sonja and Jana, wishing she had moves like Jagger.
Also enjoyed having two women running around in chainmail and fur bikinis and becoming friends and teaching each other things and making plans for their future friendship.
(My parents aren’t going to read this, are they?)
PAGE TWELVE – PAGE THIRTEEN
Ahhhhh, quite like these pages. Really wanted the wrongness of the storm to come across in a beautiful way. Mirka nailed it.
Some points about Jana and her role in the jungle—she is a hunter. She is a meat-eater and she kills. But she kills to survive or to feed her tribe. This was wanton and cruel. And now she’s gonna murder your punk ass.
PAGE FIFTEEN – PAGE SIXTEEN
Friendship is magic but it is also obnoxious puns. Jamie McKelvie is right; working with Kieron Gillen has ruined me.
PAGE SEVENTEEN – PAGE NINETEEN
Oh, poor Bel’lok. I designed you to be our pretty doe-eyed damsel and you’re so good at it. I like his vulnerability immensely; I like his modesty and his will to press on, even as he is injured, even as he is surrounded by strangers. Black male characters in comics are so often portrayed as the muscle, and I wanted to expand into something gentler, cognitive, and romantic, in terms of race and gender performance. Criticize away—I’m learning, too. Bel’lok is far and away the smartest and cleverest person in the whole arc. He’s done his homework and he knows what’s going on and he might just know how to fix everything.
“What’s going on” being “Mistress Hel is being a massive jerkface.”