REVIEW: Red Sonja Unchained #1

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Red Sonja has liberated a friend’s head from his body. Wracked with guilt, she sets off into the frozen wilderness to lay him to rest and start her next adventure. Read more in this Major Spoilers review.

RSUnchain-01-Cov-RubiRED SONJA UNCHAINED #1
WRITER: PETER V. BRETT
ARTIST: JACK JADSEN
LETTERS: SIMON BOWLAND
COLORS: MARCELO PINTO
EDITOR: JOE RYBANDT
PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
COVER PRICE: $3.99

Previously in Red SonjaPicking up from the events of “Red Sonja: Blue,” Sonja deals with the emotion fallout of Breagan’s death (at her hands, no less) and sets off to find new adventures after coming to grips with that painful episode.

DISJOINTED, ERRATIC STORY

This “Red Sonja Unchained” review has languished on my hard drive for a few extra days because I was afraid my initial impressions gave short shrift to the book. Perhaps because of my own ignorance, I presumed I could pick up this four-issue limited series and dive in without getting lost as I would have in the “Red Sonja” ongoing. Incorrect! I flipped back to the inside front cover after reading and discovered this series takes place after the one-shot “Red Sonja: Blue,” so be aware of that before you pick it up.

The issue opens with Red Sonja standing with a bloodied sword over a newly beheaded corpse and regretting every step that led her to take such an action. She then goes on to give an internal monologue flashblack recounting some of the events of “Red Sonja: Blue” and making her escape from the city after wrapping of the body and stealing some cash. She’s off to bury her friend. The second half of the book reads almost like a whole different issue. Sonja encounters bandits, fights them, saves a woman and it enticed to a new adventure—it was very different from the tone set in the first half..

I’m not getting the feeling of an overarching four-part story here. This initial issue read more like the denouement of an arc in an ongoing that leads into the next arc. I’ve not read “Red Sonja: Blue,” but I have to imagine it would have been a better execution to make that the first issue in the limited series and have these four issues follow from it rather than try to stand alone.

TWO-DIMENSIONAL ART

There was nothing objectively bad about that art—it was technically proficient with bright, vivid colors—but I found it severely lacking in the much more nebulous metric of soul. This may be a less-than-sane comment to make, but it felt as though there was no emotional investment from the artist; it’s quality work, but it gave of a very paint-by-number vibe, especially considering the emotional situations it was depicting. Rather than a tale of a woman reeling from the emotions of having to kill a friend, to me the images felt as though they’d be more at home as the flavor art in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook: static, unemotive and generic. There’s nothing wrong with an artist taking on a mercenary job in which he or she has no emotional investment, but it can show.

BOTTOM LINE: NOT MY WINESKIN OF MEAD

Might I have liked this better had I read “Red Sonja: Blue” and the main title? Probably. As much as I accused the artist of not having an emotional investment in the work, it’s only fair that I confess to not having any kind of emotional investment in the character of Red Sonja; I reviewed this book, in part, to see if it were something I’d enjoy. I didn’t, but that’s just me. If you’re a fan of the character and the franchise you’ll likely enjoy “Red Sonja: Unchained,” but I’m getting off at the first stop. I’ll read the next one because it’s my policy not to write off something after only one issue, so we’ll see what happens next. 2 stars.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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