Red Sonja, the sanguine-haired swordswoman, returns in a new No. 1 with Gail Simone at the helm. This has been a hotly anticipated entry from both Dynamite and the storied writer—does it live up to the hype? Read on in this Major Spoilers review.
Excellent jumping-on point to a great character.
Best introduction to Red Sonja that you’re likely to find.
Strong characterizations and flowing dialogue.
Each issue has but one of the six variant covers.
Previously in Red Sonja… It’s a whole new Sonja and a whole new world.
DEAR GAIL SIMONE,
I have a sin to confess: “Red Sonja” No. 1 is actually the first work of your authoring I’ve knowingly picked up. I’ve long heard people laud your work on “Batgirl,” and I’ve wondered about “The Movement” even as I snickered at the inherent bathroom humor of the title. After reading your “Red Sonja” debut, I fully intend to go back and delve into your curriculum vitae. In “Red Sonja” No. 1, you and Walter Geovani have crafted an exciting tale that kept my attention from the inside front cover all the way to the back.
Dynamite Entertainment’s “Red Sonja” titles are usually pretty good and I’ve been a fair-weather devotee throughout the past year or so but, at the risk of sounding the sycophantic hagiographer, the character really seemed to find her voice in your pen. Her dialogue and that of the supporting cast—even the annoying twin archers—felt quite natural, which can be hard to accomplish in a pseudo-magical Hyborian tale such as this. The pacing, however, seemed a little too quick during the training montage, but I imagine that is a compromise of the page count; beyond that everything flowed nicely. It was a fun read.
Of all the dramatis personae, King Dimath was my favorite. Though only an ancillary character, he’s the catalyst for the tale’s action and I love the idea of the stoic noble who sees death nigh on the horizon and chooses to meet it at the gate. I hope the second issue sees his survival as he’s an excellent and respectful foil for the scarlet she-devil. As intimated above, the Artemisian wonder twins were my least favorite part of the story, but their part is negligible and, really, the rest of the book is so solid that it’s not dragged down.
THE ART IS JUST RIGHT
I can’t go so far as to call the interiors gorgeous, but they were certainly effective and of the highest caliber. The book’s few scenes of violence were done economically, saving the physical conflict and its consequences for an illustrative story purpose instead of having the heroine hack and slash for fan service.
The panel work was tempered, as well. Layouts were kind of standard and sedate during exposition and necessary plot movement, but they got shaken up a bit during battles to show that the action was getting hot. One thing I don’t like about a lot of comics today is the need to be different for the sake of difference when it comes to paneling a page—most of the time simple is better and I’m glad it was recognized in this issue.
Seeing all the variant covers for the issue was a treat, as well. There are six different covers—all excellent and drawn by female artists—but the crowning jewel was Stephanie Buscema’s effort which reminded me of nothing so much as what Red Sonja would look like in an episode of “Dexter’s Laboratory.” Mine was the more muted and realistic Nicola Scott cover, but they’re all great.
BOTTOM LINE: SLAY YOUR ZAMORAN SHOPKEEP IF HE CARRIES NOT THIS BOOK
This is an excellent introduction to the character of Red Sonja, an excellent first issue and just an excellent comic book overall. I’m desperate for the next installment and hitherto offer my rapt attention to this new series for as long as the quality stays this high. I tend to worry when I find myself offering too effusive praise for any one thing—surely I must be missing a major flaw—but, In the absence of any arguments otherwise I have to give “Red Sonja” No. 1 five stars. I’ll see you next month, Gail.