These sisters have a mind for murder.
Sisters of Sorrow sounds like a great concept on paper. A group of nuns wage a vigilante crusade on criminals in Los Angeles? And it’s written by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter and novelist Courtney Alameda? What’s not to love? Unfortunately, the execution proves sorely lacking in this first issue.
One thing readers will notice right off the bat is that the cover is pretty misleading. Despite the gun-toting nun on the cover, the main characters appear to be sisters in a more general sisterhood sense. There’s no real religious element to the series (at least not yet), and that saps some of the novelty factor out of the equation already. This wouldn’t be a deal-breaker on its own, though. There’s still appeal in the idea of a feminist-flavored spin on vigilante stories Death Wish or The Punisher. A decade or two ago, this book would probably fall under the “Bad Girls” umbrella and feature a bunch of scantily clad femme fatales. At least there’s an effort to build a more grounded, believable world here.
Despite this grounded approach, the book quickly runs into more fundamental problems. With the exception of ostensible main character Dominique, a woman craving revenge against her ex-husband, the characters are poorly defined. The dialogue is largely repetitive and flavorless, doing little to give each character a clear personality. This issue doesn’t even succeed in fleshing out the group’s transition from ordinary civilians to hardened killers. The process happens too quickly, and apart from Dominique, the script doesn’t do enough to justify the idea that these women would want to become vigilante killers in the first place. You have to wonder if this series would have been better off as a solo story focused strictly on Dominique rather than an ensemble story. But then there would be even fewer distinguishing qualities.
The artwork only brings its own set of problems to the table. There’s an overly murky quality to this series that even Jean-Paul Csuka’s neon-drenched colors do little to mitigate. The line-work is too heavy-handed, making it difficult to distinguish between characters in many cases. The storytelling is also maddeningly unclear at times, with little sense of continuity from panel to panel and no clear focal point in many scenes. This is exacerbated by the fact that the background details are so lacking. There’s too little sense of place or environment in these pages.