Red Sonja is now Queen Sonja! How did this come about? What events lead to the She-Devil with a Sword becoming the She-Devil with an Army? The tale begins in the first issue of Queen Sonja, from Dynamite Entertainment.
Red Sonja. The very name conjures up images of a scantily clad red haired warrior cutting her way through a tide of male attackers. Created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith as an amalgamation of a few other Robert E. Howard characters, Red Sonja has been considered the high queen of fantasy since her introduction in Marvel Comicsâ€™ Conan The Barbarian #23. Others argue that she is also the height of the girl power movement; a strong woman who is the equal of any man, mistress of her own destiny.
The previous series, Red Sonja, by Dynamite Entertainment ended last month with issue 49. Having completed her quest and defeated her enemies, Red Sonja picked up her life and moved on. The first issue of this new series, Queen Sonja, picks up with a very Robert E. Howard sequence revealing to you that Red Sonja is now Queen Sonja of Sogaria. Residing in her throne room, a blonde female warrior/guard/soldier enters and tells her horrible news: The Emoran Army is advancing for Issenni. Their commander is destroying everything and no one is save, including villages, forests, holy sites and druidlands; she awaits orders from her queen. When the order comes, it is simple. A glaring Sonja states, â€œBlood will run.â€
Flashing back to four months prior to Sonjaâ€™s ascendance to ruler, we find her tracking down a group of child murderers near the Sogarian border. She takes care of them in a rather gruesome way, and proceeds to a meeting with Lady Rosenda. It seems that her family has been hit by raiders and marauders, and they have stolen many heirlooms from the good lady, including her late husbandâ€™s sword, the Sword of Aurora. In exchange for bringing the raiders to justice, Lady Rosenda says that Sonja may keep the sword, whether she recovers the other heirlooms or not. Sonja rides out to confront the raiders, and we start down our path to discovering how Red Sonja became Queen Sonja.
Again, this is a new title for me. I had a passing familiarity with the Marvel series and read several of the Red Sonja novels when I was in my early teens. In the past we have seen a King Conan, as well as a King Kull, series, but a Queen Sonja is something that I think has not been tried until now. It is a natural progression, especially seeing as this Red Sonja has some connections to nobility.Â The time between the last issue of the Red Sonja series and this first issue is unclear, it could be anywhere from days, to weeks, to months, to years, so there may possibly be a large deal of story not yet told. This story, and the use of flashbacks to tell how Sonja became the Queen, is interesting, but possibly my favorite part of the story involves Sonja taking out the group of child killers. There are some imaginative strikes in that one, and I found myself cheering her on as she took them out, and glad that good taste prevailed and you did not see any remains.
Joshua Ortega takes on a new chapter in the saga of Red Sonja, and it is one that diverts from the path of old. The image of the tortured female warrior traveling the plains, unable to submit to love and constantly proving herself the equal of any man has been replaced with one of her protecting not only herself, but a whole country. She has gone from She-Devil with a sword to She-Devil with an army, and it should be interesting to find out how this fiercely independent woman deals with such a burden. Mel Rubi provides the art for this issue as well, and it works. We have the image of the warrior queen, much in the spirit of Boudica, and then later the traditional Red Sonja in her metal bikini.Â I enjoyed the issue, and am curious about where it will go.
In the back of this oversized issue there is a nice little surprise, the first issue of the Marvel produced 1977 Marvel Feature Presents #1. This story, originally published in the 1974 Savage Sword of Conan #1, is a real treat. With art by Eseban Maroto, Neal Adams, Ernie Chan, and Jose Villarurubia and a story by Roy Thomas, itâ€™s a great look back at the character. The story is over 35 years old, and it is as entertaining now as it was then. Red Sonja returns the Serpent Tiara to King Ghannif, only to find her reward is to be made a part of his harem. Letâ€™s just say that Sonja does not consider that much of a reward, and that things end badly. This is the Red Sonja of old, and if you have never read any of the original Marvel tales, this is a great way to get exposed.
What, thatâ€™s not enough? Well, there is also a preview of Mel Rubiâ€™s pencil art from the upcoming second issue of Queen Sonja. It is as clean and pretty as the art from this issue, and he really seems to have made the character his own.
Overall, this issue is a nice start to a new series. You have a major change for the character, and enough teases to make you want to know what comes next. The reprinted story is a major treat, and makes me want to go did up old the old black and white magazines that this story originally appeared in. And the price it right. You get a lot of content for the price of a regular sized issue. Weighing in the start of a new series and the extras, I am going with a 4 out of 5 stars.