Sonja, once a follower of the War Master Domo of Khitai, now serves a fallen master. Khitai has fallen, and Red Sonja has returned to her homeland of Hyrkania. What awaits her in the land of her birth? Knowing Red Sonja, blood will fall, regardless. RED SONJA #1 is out from Dynamite Entertainment.

Red Sonja #1 ReviewRED SONJA #1 REVIEW

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colors: Dearbhla Kelly
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover: Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts
Publisher:  Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: February 6th, 2019
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in RED SONJA: Red Sonja has battled evil mages, traveled to far and strange dimensions, and caused more blood to flow than nearly any man in her time. Now, defeated after the death of her teacher and mentor, Domo of Khitai, she returns home to the land of Hyrkania. However, other lands are falling before a powerful new force, and it is only a matter of time before the lands of Hyrkania come under its eye.

SOME WITTY OR DRAMATIC REMARK

Stygia has fallen. At the Gate of Woe, in the capital of Shadizar, the center of the Zamoran Empire, the emperor Dragan the Magnificent decides the fate of the people, and of their disposed king. Dragan tells the former king, who grovels before him, that he is accused of attempting to assassinate him. When the king defends himself, saying he never did such a thing, Dragan explains; there is a prophecy that says Dagon will die once his empire stops expanding. By refusing to surrender, the old king threatened the expansion of Dragan’s empire and is therefore guilty of attempted assassination. But the great Dragan will forgo the prescribed punishment, sealing the ex-king in a sack with twenty scorpions, ten starving rats, a goat and throwing him in the river of blood, if he proves to be a worthy advisor. He points to a map and explains he is thinking of invading a particular country. What does the ex-king think of the land of the Hyrkanians. He tells the Emperor it would be an easy conquest, but that the people there have nothing to offer, except the knowledge of “the self-cooking cow”. They are poor. If he won, they would offer him nothing of value. If he lost, the cost could be enormous. After thanking him for his council, the Emperor has him sealed in the bag for execution. The man did not think big enough. He then sends his emissary to his target country.

Meanwhile, in the wastelands to the east of Hyrkania, Sonja rides a dying horse, trying to escape her hunters. She has lost everything, including a teacher whom she considered a father figure.  Her pursuers, tacking her through the waste, come upon her dead horse a short time later. Two continue the chase while the third stops to check the horse’s bags. He was the lucky one, his journey stopped when Sonja threw her sword through his throat to kill him and take his horse. But the others are wise to her, and have circled around. As Sonja fights for her life, the words of her now dead teacher echo in her mind, lessons from a dead man. After dispatching one group, another comes riding up and Sonja stands, now in hand ready to fight to her last breath. A volley of arrows comes from an unexpected direction, killing her attackers, riders from Hyrkania have arrived. They are looking for Red Sonja, the Council of Elders has summoned her. There, she will again experience another of her dead master’s teachings: The easiest decisions are those which are made for you.

GRIT FANTASY WITH A SOME HUMOR

According to the solicitations, this is the fifth volume of Red Sonja from Dynamite Entertainment. As of right now, I am a little torn on it. The backstory and the overall plot are wonderful. The idea of a Red Sonja who has been defeated and returning to her homeland is intriguing. Rarely do you start the protagonist in such a sorry state unless you are prepared to catapult them to greatness in a magnificent way. Mark Russell (The Lone Ranger, Exit Stage LEFT: The Snagglepuss Chronicles) is a wonderful writer who has a knack for giving characters their own voices and weaving great plots. Here we have a great plot, but the character voices bother me. They have a very modern syntax that keeps pulling me out of the story. Is it witty? Yes. Is it funny? Yes. Does it sound like the language of a dark and gritty fantasy world? Well, only if you’re around the table with your friends yelling at the dice because they keep rolling ones. Don’t get me wrong, the dialogue is still good and funny, but it seems very modern. From Sonja, I may expect that she has been to the future and lived in our world. But there is a sarcasm and tone that just reads out of place. Nearly every character sounds sarcastic. Okay, let me put it this way, have you ever seen the 1997 movie Kull The Conqueror? The movie was sorta good, but it lacked the gravitas of its source material. This issue feels like that in a way. Now that I think of it, I hear a bit of Rowan Atkinson “Blackadder” in the voice of the Emperor, and his emissary sounds a little like Balrdic.  That said, I enjoyed the voice Russell gives Red Sonja. She is a smart woman of the world who knows there are more important things in life than building empires. She has spent her life making fools out of men who think they are worth more than anyone else. Her reply to the Emperor’s demand for surrender is well thought out and appropriate to the character. His reaction, while a little funny, just falls flat.

On to the art duties, we have Mirko Colak (Red Skull: Incarnate, Punisher MAX), and he does a good job. He has a very photographic reference style that stops short of being photo-realistic. This is good, because he adds a layer of realism needed for comics. He depicts a beaten and battered Sonja well, but stops from going as far as making her seem destitute, fearful or weak. This Sonja is still the She-Devil, despite a downturn in her current situation. Colorist Dearbhla Kelly (Michael Cray, Paradiso) adds a great deal of feeling with her color work. The depth of the images owes much to her work, and she conveys the dirt and grim of the world perfectly.

BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD ISSUE WITH THE POTENTIAL   TO BE GREAT

Look, my problems with the dialogue and the use of sarcasm and one-liners is truly a personal preference. I enjoy a more traditional style, especially when it comes to the sword and sorcery genre. The issue is solid, and my little quibbles will not matter to ninety-five percent of the people out there. Mark Russell is a great writer, and the creative team which have converged on this issue did a wonderful job. If you are a fan, go pick it up. If you are curious, go pick it up. If you have never heard of Red Sonja, well, that is a whole other story, but still go pick it up.

RED SONJA #1 is a well-plotted, well-written and well-illustrated issue that does proud to its legacy. Pick your copy up today and enjoy the bloodshed.


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Red Sonja #1

77%
77%
A Good Issue With Potential To Be Great

RED SONJA #1 is a well-plotted, well-written and well-illustrated issue that does proud to its legacy. Pick your copy up today and enjoy the bloodshed.

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About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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