Red Sonja. The name brought fear into the hearts of brigands and evildoers, but an instance of time travel has returned her to a world that has nearly forgotten her. Now we follow as she rebuilds her reputation, in stories by Amy Chu and Erik Burnham. Come, pull up a stool, as we speak of might the red-haired warrior woman and her latest adventure in Red Sonja #19 from Dynamite Entertainment.
Story: Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Script: Erik Burnham
Illustrations: Carlos Gomez
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover Art: Sean Chen & Cris Peter
Variant Covers: Tom Mandrake & Sian Mandrake, Jan Duursema & Sian Mandrake, John Royle & Juan Fernandez
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Red Sonja: Over the last few years, Red Sonja has been thrust into our modern day world by the magics of Kulan Gath, returned to her world years from when she left, battled more of Gath’s dark forces, met her current companions, Tya and Lera, battled a magical clone of herself, and ultimately defeated Kulan Garth after he was consumed by wyvern fire. Now she has discovered that her sword is the vaunted Sword of Skath, a legendary Cimmerian warrior who lost the blade years before. She and her companions have decided to return the blade, and possibly be handsomely rewarded for their efforts. But there is the problem of Gath’s followers trying to kill her, or are they? Her time in Cimmeria has been interesting, and it seems she may be having a problem with a companion keeping secrets.
THE MOST MAGICAL… SORRY, IT’S A TOURIST TRAP…
After arriving in Cimmeria and locating the lands and castle of Lord Skath, Sonja and her friends are surprised to find that Skath has disappeared and a new lord owns the castle. But it seems that Lord Sandak is not satisfied with obtaining a castle, he wants to turn it into a sort of “amusement park” to high paying guest. But there is the little matter of the people in the village below him. If he could find someone to clear the village out, by any means necessary, he could have even more guest pay him for entertainment and use the villager’s homes as their lodgings. And guess which red-hair warrior woman has a companion who just may have, sorta, in a way, twisted her words to make it sound like they would be willing to take the job? Yep, that’s right, Lera. She is not the brightest blade in the scabbard, or is she? She risks Sonja’s fury but leads her to believe it is to buy time as they travel to the village and find a way out of the situation that is good for everyone. In the village, they find that these Cimmerian care not for their new ruler, but before anyone can really get a conversation going, the party is attacked by more followers of Kulan Gath. Even this far away, they refuse to give up their hunt for Red Sonja, or is it something else? And what about that shadowy figure skulking along the rooftops?
A CASE OF FANTASY BASED EMINENT DOMAIN?
Amy Chu (KISS, Green Hornet) and Erik Burnham (Ghostbusters, Savage Tales) have managed to do what I had assumed could not be done – put real estate law into a sword and sorcery story and make it interesting. You see, Lord Skath could not pay his tribute, so Sandak paid the tribute himself, gaining Skath’s castle. Now, he wants to kill the villagers so he can co-op their village for his entertainment guest. In real-world terms, Sandak paid the back taxes on Skath’s home, gaining control of it until Skath has a reasonable time to pay them himself, which rarely happens. Now he intends to use eminent domain on the villagers in the name of expanding his business.
I tell you, it’s not often my paralegal degree comes in handy while reviewing comics, but this one of them! In all seriousness, the story is smart, and leads into giving Red Sonja and her friends a deeper reason for being in Cimmeria that simply returning a lost sword. Burnham has some great dialog chops, and he uses them to excellent effect here. The cliffhanger ending is nice, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Carlos Gomez (Skorpio, Dago) does a bang-up job on the art for this issue. Yes, he draws a damn sexy Red Sonja, but he also excels at translating the script into the page illustrations. Cimmeria is a dark and dismal place, and the people are not happy little villagers. With a simple costume design, you instantly know that Sandak is not a native, and neither are Sonja and friends. Great facial expressions and dynamic panel design move the story along nicely, and the action just flows. Great work by a great artist. Additionally, smart color choices by Mohan define the land and those who are from elsewhere nicely.
BOTTOM LINE: SWORD SWINGING FUN WITH A FEW INTERESTING SUB-PLOTS TO KEEP THE STORY MOVING
If my somewhat odd description of the events in this issue throws you, don’t let it. It’s fun and slashy. This is the arrogant, confident, and battle-ready Red Sonja we all know and love, and she is trying to re-establish herself as a force in her world. Her companions seem to want to underestimate her, and Lera, in particular, seems to have made some poor choices, such as stealing Kulan Gath’s amulet, and the choices just keep getting worse. But of course, half the fun is the anticipation of what Red Sonja will do when she finally finds out.
Amy Chu and Erik Burnham have been laying down exciting adventures for the she-devil with a sword, and this issue is no exception. Hack your way through the hordes fans and pick yourself up a copy.