Red Sonja meets a goddess who makes her an offer she can’t refuse and goes in search of a golden ax in Red Sonja #23.

Red Sonja #23 ReviewRED SONJA #23

Story:  Amy Chu & Erik Burnham
Script:  Erik Burnham
Illustrator:  Robert Castro
Colorist: Salvatore Aiala Studio
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Editor: David Hedgecock
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: November 28th, 2018
Price: $3.99

Previously in Red Sonja: Hyboria’s greatest sword mistress in chainmail armor just wants to be left alone.  But the Gods will what the Gods will and before long, Red Sonja is on the hunt for a legendary ax to sate the demands of a king whose son she killed in cold blood…

THERE AIN’T NO #METOO MOVEMENT IN HYBORIA

This incredibly bland, incredibly averagely written issue of Red Sonja exists, seemingly like all the other issues, to deliver (no doubt to an overwhelmingly fourteen-year-old male readership) images of a pretty woman in chainmail and very little else.  The story is incidental.  The art, though well rendered, is equally incidental, except to show Red Sonja in a variety of poses to demonstrate, yet again, that underneath those very uncomfortable chain links SHE’S NOT WEARING ANYTHING.

Sigh.

Anyway, Red Sonja is doing her thing, riding through Corinthia, just wanting to be left alone, when BANG, a blue-skinned goddess appears out of nowhere.  The goddess, Manisha, is the only other female character in Red Sonja #23 (the Sphinx that appears later doesn’t count) and of course, she’s just as shapely, and undressed, as the main character.

Sigh.

To satisfy a worshipper who has sacrificed to her, Manisha sends Red Sonja off on a quest to retrieve the king’s lost family heirloom, a jewel encrusted golden ax, held by a magnificent griffon.  There’s a bit of wordplay, some action and gore, then the sweet, sweet smell of inevitable success.  And that’s it.

IRONCLAD BOOBIES

It’s truly hard to believe that a character like Red Sonja exists in today’s comics.  Or should I say, it’s great to have a strong female lead character with agency, but it’s deplorable that they’re dressed like a stripper with a metal fetish.  Girls won’t read it, and the boys who might’ve back in the 1970s are searching for porn on the Internet, because, you know, it actually has the real thing Red Sonja would love to, but can’t quite, depict.  Bare.  Naked.  Ladies.

The scant writing leaves the story leaning heavily on the art.  The problem I had with the art was that while it was very well drawn, the overall feel to it, especially the coloring, is incredibly bland.  Red Sonja #23 opens on a plain near some bland looking mountains.  We then move to a rather threadbare, sparsely populated castle interior.  Where are the thick rugs, the awesome wall hangings, the guards in intricate armor?  Nowhere.  Then the story transitions to a cave, then a tunnel, then the griffon’s eyrie.  It’s just so bland and depopulated and frankly, a real letdown.

Red Sonja should be so much more than this.  Yes, in this issue she’s a go-getter, won’t take crap from the king, and bests a Sphinx at the riddling game.  But Red Sonja the written character, the She-Devil with a sword, who resolutely goes her own way, is absolutely nowhere to be seen.  This story and this depiction of the character lack guts, lack power and lack any reason for the reader to come back and read more of her adventures.

BOTTOM LINE – AVOID

Conan doesn’t have this sort of problem, and there’s no reason why Red Sonja can’t be the same.  Robert E Howard’s Hyborian Age is packed to the gills with teeming cities, brooding jungles, blood tinged oceans, mystical mountains, uncaring gods, short and brutal battles and doom-haunted tombs.  Dishing up such a bland meal as Red Sonja #23 is a crying shame that shortchanges not only the character and her potential, but more importantly, the audience.

Red Sonja #23

50%
50%
Avoid

Conan doesn’t have this sort of problem, and there’s no reason why Red Sonja can’t be the same. Robert E Howard’s Hyborian Age is packed to the gills with teeming cities, brooding jungles, blood tinged oceans, mystical mountains, uncaring gods, short and brutal battles and doom-haunted tombs. Dishing up such a bland meal as Red Sonja #23 is a crying shame that shortchanges not only the character and her potential, but more importantly, the audience.

  • Writing
    4
  • Art
    6
  • Coloring
    5
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)
    0
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About Author

Romantic. Raconteur. Kangaroo rustler. Sadly, Rob is none of these. Rob has been a follower of genre since at least the mid-1970s. Book collector, Doctor Who fan, semi-retired podcaster, comic book shop counter jockey, writer (once!) in Doctor Who Magazine and with pretensions to writing fantasy and horror, Rob is the sort of fellow you can happily embrace while wondering why you're doing it. More of his maudlin thoughts can be found at his ill-tended blog https://robertmammone.wordpress.com/

1 Comment

  1. So sorry you were clearly forced to read this issue but actually this run has sold very well indeed … with both male and female readers. I’m also not exactly sure what problem it it that Conan doesn’t have? Being used by the gods like a plaything? Sure he does! Having the odd bland, subpar issue? Of course he does, although I disagree with you about the quality of this comic. Why does Conan get a mention in this review anyway? For somebody who’s incredibly quick to play the tired ‘metal bikini’ card, you sure brought up Conan quickly. Sonja’s her own character.

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