It all started with a fire. It all ends with a gust of air.
The final arc of "The Sword," the popular Image Comics series from Jonathan and Joshua Luna, begins in September's issue #19. Like the previous arcs before it - "Fire," "Water" and "Earth" - the fourth and final storyline, titled "Air," sees paraplegic-turned-vengeful warrior Dara Brighton bringing her sword to bear upon Malia, the last of the three god-siblings responsible for the death of Dara's family. If you thought Dara's quest has been difficult so far, you haven't seen anything yet. The Luna Brothers spoke with CBR News about what fans can expect from the final arc of "The Sword" as well its status as a feature film.
In a series that's seen its main character fight a tidal wave-wielding foe and an enormous stone giant, among several other jaw-dropping moments - some of them literally jaw-dropping - it should be pretty telling that the unwritten ending is Jonathan Luna's favorite moment of "The Sword." Fans are certainly waiting with bated breath for Dara and Malia's showdown, but perhaps no one is more excited for the final brawl than the Lunas themselves.
"I can't wait until our readers see how this series ends," Joshua Luna told CBR News. "I almost wish we could somehow crank out the remaining six issues in one month just to show them right now, but unfortunately, we're only human!"
The upcoming nineteenth issue of "The Sword" kicks off the last leg of Dara's journey to avenge her family's death. At this stage in the game, the redheaded lead character is almost unrecognizable. "In issue one, Dara was an innocent, paraplegic art student. After she discovered the Sword, she's transformed into a hardened, homicidal avenger, not to mention the most physically powerful human on Earth. So the question is, what will become of her after - or if - she exacts her revenge?" Joshua Luna posited. "After reading issue #19, you may change the way you think about that question."
When Dara fought the previous elemental gods Zakros and Knossos, she came to peace with the two family members they each killed - namely, her sister and her mother. But it was Malia who felled Demetrios, the nearly 4,000-year old warrior that wielded the Sword before Dara. The Lunas suggested that Dara could come to terms with her father and his death while confronting Malia, but there's another deceased character whose presence could be felt in the final issues: Phaistos, the fire-wielding god-sibling that Zakros, Knossos and Malia commissioned Demetrios to kill several thousand years earlier.
"Even after Demetrios defeated Phaistos, Phaistos still managed to leave a lasting impression even to the present day," Joshua Luna said. "He basically represents the worst-case scenario not only for the god-siblings - because they fear sharing his fate - but for our human characters as well, because Phaistos embodied the full destructive and sadistic potential of these god-siblings. So, when Dara and Malia clash, his presence is still somewhat felt."
Aside from Phaistos and the obvious Dara and Malia, there are other characters that will have an impact on the final arc's proceedings, namely Dara's friends and reluctant allies Julie and Justin. "From the beginning, Julie has always been Dara's loyal friend and Justin has always been the whining reluctant companion," Joshua Luna said. "But in the finale, both will be tested in extreme ways. They'll definitely play big roles in the last arc."
But there's an even larger character pool to consider going into the finale - no less than the entire global population and the media that represents them. "The people of the world play a character in this story," Jonathan Luna told CBR. "We set a theme up that says that power is nothing without an influence of people. So, the media is important in delivering the information to the people and showing the people's state of mind to the reader."
As "The Sword" begins its final descent, Jonathan said the book's events have played out mostly as initially planned, though some moments changed from the idea phase to the actual production. "When we first planned out the series, we pretty much knew all of the basic major things that we wanted to do," he said. "But we also knew that we shouldn't plan out every single detail; that would ruin the fun in creating the whole series. That being said, everything has basically played out as we expected it to. We've also had some fun surprises for ourselves."
Part of the reason that "The Sword" played out so closely to the original outline is the very nature of Joshua and Jonathan Luna's relationship - as siblings, the Lunas have the luxury of knowing how the other brother works and thinks in a way that eludes many creative teams. "We are definitely more in tune than the average team," Jonathan said. "On the other hand, we don't have to be so professional with each other. I mean, to this date, we've known each other for 28 years!"
That's not to say there aren't aspects of the series that the Lunas wouldn't change if they could. "Like the saying goes, 'Art is never finished, only abandoned,'" explained Joshua. "I'm sure every artist can look back at something they've done and find something they'd want to change or tweak. It's like a never-ending obsessive compulsion to reach perfection. As for what I'd change? I'll never tell!"
The Luna Brothers have the fortunate experience of having already completed a 24-issue comic book series in "Girls," another Image Comics title that focused on an alien invasion in the form of naked, man-craving women. Wrapping up that series might have offered a few pointers towards how the brothers approached "The Sword." "With 'Girls,' some people seemed to have a problem with it having many questions and little answers," Jonathan Luna said. "I'm not sure if we consciously learned anything from that, but maybe 'The Sword' was affected in that way."
Another beneficial trait the two books have in common is their finite issue count. Like "Girls" before it, "The Sword" will end with a final count of 24 issues, resulting in a series with a carefully planned conclusion. "We don't necessarily plan to do the 24-issue format forever, but we certainly appreciate the appeal of a finite story: a beginning, middle and an end," said Joshua. "We just find the process of taking the readers and ourselves on a ride and rewarding them with a payoff. It's very rewarding."
When "The Sword" ends, the Luna Brothers will have dabbled in several different genres to date, including science fiction, superheroes and fantasy. The two conceded that there are many other story types they wish to explore, going so far as to hint at their potential next project. "Well, we do have this idea for a series that chronicles the adventures of a young wizard named Larry and his two wizard friends who all attend a school of wizardry," joked Joshua. "The central story is about the main character's struggle with an evil and powerful wizard who killed his parents. We're pretty positive no one has created a story like this yet."
"All kidding aside," Jonathan chimed in, "we have a number of things that we've been wanting to do. We'll reveal them when it's appropriate."
The next project after "The Sword" might not even necessarily be a comic book - in fact, it could be a further examination of "The Sword" itself. The Luna Brothers admitted that there is definitely Hollywood interest in a film version of the series, though news on such a project isn't likely to surface until after the comic book finishes its run. Still, that didn't stop the pair from weighing in on what a movie adaptation could entail.
"It would be very important to us that we have a great and appropriate script and director. If we had those two, we believe everything else would fall into place," Joshua Luna said. "And we would hope the film would be pretty faithful to the comic, although we understand that some changes need to be made in an adaptation. One film could work, but it'd be three hours long! I think we do have a conscious idea of what we'd like the film to be like, but I think we'll keep that to ourselves. We don't want to jinx it."
Image Comics' "The Sword" #19 hits shelves on September 16, kicking off the final arc of the series. The third volume, "The Sword, Vol. 3: Earth," arrives in trade paperback form one week earlier on October 14.