In Review: Red Sonja #10

Sonja hits Sin City with both fists and hits the jackpot.

The covers: A big ten covers for this big tenth issue! Amy Reeder has created a memorable A cover for this issue with an intense close-up of the Hyrkanian wiping blood from her mouth. She is exuding so much attitude in this illustration it’s unforgettable. The coloring is also sensational, with the reds of her hair, the emerald of her eyes, and her tan skin incredible. This needs to be a poster! Sonja blows a kiss to the reader, surrounded by an otherworldly blue glow, as bodies of dead or dying creatures tumble behind her. The creatures appear to be ghoulish trolls sporting military garb that includes metal helmets. They appear to be dead, though the one upside down directly behind Sonja has a fleshy hue. This one seems to be a banker, as it was carrying a suitcase that now spirals away, spilling money in its wake. This is a beautiful B cover by Ben Caldwell. Though I don’t understand what’s going on, it still looks really cool. Jonboy Meyers has created another memorable image of Sonja on the stunning C cover. The She-Devil with a Sword is waving her weapon before the reader while flames surround her. Her hair and the feathers on her coat swirl about as embers dance. Fantastic illustration with sensational coloring. Cover D is the Cosplay Photo Variant featuring Casabella as Sonja, photographed by TL Photography. On the beach, Sonja turns to the reader, while holding a bloodied dagger in her left hand ready. Her red cape billows forward and its color matches two wounds on her side and the cuts on her nose and mouth. Great picture with Casabella looking great. I love seeing Sonja on the beach and that this photo occurrsjust after a battle. Well done. Wearing her iconic metal bikini, which is barely holding back her chest, Sonja struts forward holding a sword in one hand and a battle axe in the other. She’s walking south of the iconic Welcome to Famous Las Vegas sign located south on the Strip. The setting looks great and the heroine fantastic. The character should look good on this Subscription Variant cover, the E, because it’s illustrated by interior artist Carlos Gomez with colors by interior colorist Mohan. The F is the B/W Incentive is by Amy Reeder. It’s the same as the A, just without the colors. It’s as beautiful as the colored version.The G is the “Virgin” Incentive cover that’s the B cover minus the text. It’s also worth adding to one’s collection. Another B/W Incentive cover, the H, comes as an uncolored version of the C. This is also one to pick if at all possible. The I cover is the Groupees Exclusive featuring art by Craig Cermak and colors by Chris O’Halloran. A monstrous snake has its jaws open and is bearing down on the warrior, who’s knee deep in the water of a swamp. The snake is realistic looking, Sonja looks strong, and the setting is terrific. The colors, however, are too dark, causing all but Sonja and the creature’s mouth to be a miasma of browns and greens. Brighter coloring would have helped this considerably. The final cover is the J, which is the Groupees B/W Exclusive. This features only Cermak’s contributions, which showcase his stellar work with the setting. Overall grades: A A+, B A, C A, D A, E A, F A, G A, H A, I B-, and J A-

The story: This issue opens “Somewhere in the Nevada desert…” with vultures circling a lone figure walking through the wilderness. One dives in to help the human meet its maker but doesn’t expect to receive a right to the face, it’s power enhanced by the rock that’s held. Sonja carries the raptor by her side to be used for a meal at some point. In the distance the bird of prey’s fellows continue to follow. Writer Amy Chu then moves the tale to Meru, where Max Mendoza wakes, unable to sleep due to Lera and Taya’s constant snoring. He wanders the decimated town and comes upon something that causes him to yell for his companions. The pair quickly appear and are shocked at what Max has found. The collection he has stumbled upon teases more of his backstory and an incident from early in this story’s past. Chu doesn’t remain in this distant past, but returns to the present as the FBI continue to look for Sonja and the She-Devil’s pals, Spike and Holly enter a casino in search of an easy way to make money. Naturally, something happens in the casino, some new villains are revealed, and Sonja makes a hell of an entrance on Page 14. There’s a solid surprise at the end of 17 that leads to a moment that would rival the climax of any James Bond film. Again, Chu doesn’t stay here, instead having the heroines join a familiar face who’s got a big surprise of his own. One plot line ends as another is brought back to the forefront of this series in spectacular fashion. I enjoy how Chu keeps Sonja loyal to her roots, though she’s in the present, and that every page presents a solid surprise or some awesome action. Chu always keeps this series moving! Overall grade: A

The art: Carlos Gomez starts the book off with a fantastic pull in to Sonja from the vultures looking down upon her. As one gets close for the kill, the warrior becomes more familiar, but it’s the large panel of the bird getting punched that’s stellar. It’s violent and looks real, with the blood flying from the bird shocking. The full-paged splash of the second page is awesome with strong Sonja continuing on her desolate path, carrying the bird in her left fist. Behind her several of the birds continue to follow. This is just awesome! Moving to Meru, Max’s broken town is amazing for all its decimated details. The flashback sequences on Page 5 look great, with Max aging before the reader as the scenes change around him. I really like the final panel on this page shows one of his abilities in action. Vegas looks great throughout this issue. As someone who goes there several times a year, to visit family — thank you, I can vouch for the flavor of Sin City being captured flawlessly. The interiors of the casino look great, though they are noticeably empty. The hired help that apprehends Spike and Holly, and later become fodder for Sonja, look ferocious and large. The sequence of actions on 12 and 13 are like looking upon a film’s storyboards; the action they capture is fluid. Sonja’s fury on 14 is great and it increases with the reveal of the book’s true villain. Gomez goes into James Bond territory with the number of characters and action on 18. There’s a subtle hint as to why Sonja and her friends survive that hints at the book’s final revelation which is a gasp inducing illustration on 20. This book looks terrific. Overall grade: A

The colors: One of the many joys of this book is the coloring done by Mohan. Having read Sonja tales for decades, it’s fantastic to have her exploits be in bright colors with every element of the artwork visible. The desert of Nevada is perfectly brown and tan, which allows Sonja’s hair and skin to have her become an eye magnet when she’s revealed. Meru is a dark setting, given its state, but things brighter when Max makes a discovery. In fact, Mohan finishes what this discovery is, as it would have taken considerable time for Gomez to illustrate each piece of this pile. The flashback has the colors aged in tans to assist the reader in realizing that what’s being shown is the past. The interiors of the casino ring true with their sedate card tables, though the slots are well lit. The penthouse is a modern setting, with grays and calm blues and reds giving it an efficient, business-like tone. When the action occurs the backgrounds go bright in yellow or orange to increase the savagery. Magic is shown in light blues, giving it a pleasing feel. I love Mohan’s work. Overall grade: A

The letters: Simon Bowland is responsible for scene settings, narration, sounds, dialogue, a whispered dialogue, and yells. The scene settings are exciting, tilted slightly, making them seem as if they’ve just raced onto the page. The sounds are big and bold, with a great KRACK to start things off and several slick SPLIKs ending an action sequence. I’ve also got to give praise to Sonja’s narration, which uses lower case letters to make the text seem more intimate. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Sonja hits Sin City with both fists and hits the jackpot in finally locating her foe. The story has plenty of action and surprises and the visuals are jaw dropping for their details and beauty. This is a modern Red Sonja that can’t be missed. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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