‘Red Sonja’ #1 Comic Book Review
Red Sonja is back with a brand new first issue from Dynamite, and I’m “all in.”
I’ve never checked out Red Sonja and I am only familiar with the character due to a few foggy childhood memories of the 1985 film. I’m a big fan of the Conan books from Dark Horse, however, (and I’m eagerly anticipating where Jason Aaron will take the character at Marvel) so this comic is certainly up my alley.
The book won me over from the jump, with the opening lines of the introduction,
“The warrior known as Sonja the Red was styled, not for the scarlet of her hair, but for the blood of all who challenged her.”
From there, writer Mark Russell (The Flintstones, Snagglepuss) takes the Star Wars route, introducing a capable and ruthless villain ahead of the hero. It’s a great way to kick off a story, showing rather than telling, to establish the antagonist as a credible threat before the hero is introduced. We know Darth Vader is a Bad Guy because the first thing we see is him choking a dude to death. We know that Dragan the Magnificent is a Bad Guy because heads of the conquered are rolling, and guys are getting thrown into sacks of scorpions and rats. It’s great.
The opulence and power of Dragan provides a good contrast when Sonja the Red is introduced, crossing the desert on a dying horse. Thankfully Russell and artist Mirko Colak (Conan, Red Skull Incarnate) ditch the cheesecake bikini armor from the cover in favor of something an actual person might wear. It is quickly revealed that Sonja is being hunted. Readers are then treated to the kind of fight scenes that the Sword and Sorcery genre is built upon, as she turns the tables on her pursuers. It’s a great introduction to the character, displaying both her cunning and her sword prowess.
Russell then deftly pulls the two threads he’s been weaving together, setting Sonja on a collision course with Dragan the Magnificent. Again, it’s great.
Red Sonja #1 is a solid first issue. Russell skillfully builds a great villain and sets up a brewing conflict that makes the reader want to come back for more. His take on Sonja as a cunning, steel willed protagonist is believable and hits all the right notes.
Colak’s art is a perfect fit for the material. He depicts the Hyborian Age as a lived-in world of both opulence and filth. His ability to skillfully under-draw the more grotesque moments of graphic violence is one of the comic medium’s more underappreciated talents.
This is a great comic for fans of the Sword and Sorcery genre, or anyone looking to dip their toes in that water.
Red Sonja #1 is available in comic shops and digitally on February 6th, 2019.