In Review: Red Sonja #3

This is the best adventure comic available. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: Ten covers for collectors to track down if they have the mettle, and the money, to show themselves a true fan of the Hyrkanian. The A cover is by Mike McKone and features Sonja on a motorcycle, her sword swinging upon several suited foes. The cycle is on its rear tire, having the vehicle striking a pose she’s assumed several times while on horseback. The colors are really dark on this cover, taking out a lot of the art’s details, though one can see that one of her opponents is wearing a necklace that’s lit up. This would have been much better had the colors been brighter. NOTE: The electronic copy I had to review is much darker than other images of this cover I’m seeing online. I’m sticking by my grade until I see one in person. The B is by J. Scott Campbell a features a gorgeous black and white image of the she-devil with a sword turning to look at the reader, revealing much of her body. Only her hair and the title are colored, naturally in crimson red. Terrific image from the always sensational Campbell. Jonboy Meyers does the C cover which is a spectacular image of Sonja leaping from the ground to do with battle with a creature that’s so monstrous it can’t be entirely seen. Sonja looks great with her teeth in a snarl, a shield protecting her, a winter coat on her shoulders, and a massive sword ready to strike. The creature appears to be a dragon due to its scales, clawed hand, and attached wing. The coloring on this is also terrific, with Sonja’s flesh against the blues of the beast eye-catching. The D cover is the Cosplay frontpiece featuring Tatiana DeKhtyar. She gives the reader a strong smoldering look as she plants her sword blade into the ground. She’s wearing the expected chain metal bikini, but is also wearing a matching necklace and arm cuff, and a leather belt and bracers. DeKhtyar looks amazing. This is one to track down. Mel Rubi and Mohan do the E cover, which has Sonja wearing her traditional togs and pulling her sword from behind her. She’s facing away from the reader, looking into the snowy woods where several black figures with glowing red eyes are emerging. Very cool atmospheric image. The F cover is the same as the D cover, just sans text; so if one wants to look at DeKhtyar without distractions, the Incentive Tatiana DeKhtyar cover is the one to track down. The G cover is the Incentive Mike McKone Black and White cover; the same as the A, but without colors. This is one much easier to see all the details. The Incentive Mel Rubi Black and White cover, the H, is the E cover without colors. This looks uninked and is outstanding. The I is the Incentive J. Scott Campbell Virgin cover, which is the same as the B, just sans text. The final cover is the J, the Incentive Mike McKone Spot Color cover. This is the same as the G, though Sonja’s hair and the title are given the crimson colors they’re known for. Of all the McKone covers, this is my favorite. Overall grades: A C-, B A, C A+, D A+, E B+, F A+, G B, H A-, I A, and J B+

The story: The third installment of Amy Chu’s story begins with Sonja stepping out of the bath, feeling refreshed from the hot water. She examines some of the items that Max has in his bathroom and it sparks a memory of the Grand Bazaar. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the world before it was destroyed by Kulan Gath. Sonja was hired by the kingdom of Meru to protect it, but she failed. Her reminiscing comes to an end when she hears a crash outside. Standing on the landing outside the window of the apartment building, Sonja sees Max defending himself against six opponents using a trash can lid as a shield and a bag of trash as a makeshift mace. The warrior launches herself down upon the foes, wielding the antique sword Max had hanging on the wall. “It’s not as heavy as my trusty blade, but it will do,” Sonja says to her friend, driving back the villains. How the pair escape the antagonists is fun and Sonja did see how such a feat was accomplished in the previous issue. The pair return to a setting from the previous issue, which pleases Sonja to small end. She gets a change of clothes, something is returned to her that she missed, and a new ally is found that will place Sonja face to face with her foe. It is a big leap with how Sonja meets up with Holly, but the story is moving at a good pace and it didn’t bother. What is not a leap is how Sonja learns of “Hank.” It made perfect sense and has me questioning every portrait I see hanging in a building. The means by which Sonja is able to meet Hank is funny (Page 15). I appreciated that Sonja tried to work within Max’s limitations of not killing anyone, but after what transpires this issue and how it ends, I doubt that will be the case next issue. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book are stunning. Carlos Gomez, whose work can be found in several Dresden Files collections from Dynamite, has made Sonja amazing. Her walk from the tub certainly shows off she’s beautiful, but the second page shows the warrior aspects of this character as she leaps at the evil wizard who’s riding atop a Cthulhu-like creature. The settings are also incredible. If one can tear their eyes off the character on Page 1, take a gander at all the work done on the walls and the shelves. The second page kicks things up considerably with the lavish setting of the Grand Bazaar, before and after Gath’s attack. The layout of 3 is excellent with two inserted panels allowing for a smooth progression to showing Max about to battle his six opponents. Sonja’s entrance into the fray on 4 is outstanding, with her taking out several individuals with her arrival. The sense of motion that Gomez creates in this panel is perfection: Sonja’s hair splayed out behind her and the positions of the bodies of the antagonists when she connects with them. Sonja and Max’s exit on the next page is slick, with, again, motion being superbly shown. The details in the setting of Page 10 really sell the environment, with the destination of the final panel being exactly what one would expect to see in such a location. The characters’ expressions throughout the book are also exquisite, with Pages 10 – 12 having the characters emote seamlessly with their dialogue. Check out the crowd shot on 14; not one character is skimped on, with everyone fully rendered. Sonja dominates the penultimate page with a sensational turn to her foe, while the final page finally has the villain showing his power. Without question, Gomez is a drawing god. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Mohan provides the colors for this issue and they are just as spectacular as the art. Sonja’s skin and flesh dominate the first page, whose background is composed of the grays one would find in a modern apartment. Throughout the book, the warrior’s fiery hair and warm skin act as a magnet to the reader, drawing the eye. This isn’t too difficult since the colors of the city are gray or brown. Colors explode beautifully at the Bazaar to show its grandeur. Molly’s disheveled space also has a great coloring, highlighting all the books and curios that a professor of history would have. Sonja’s the star of this book, but Molly’s blonde hair is gorgeously colored. The bottom two panels of 12 show the fantastic work done on it. The final setting has some strong lighting work accomplished with colors, both from the source and the characters in it. The backlighting done on 19 is show stopper. And take a look at how Mohan has changed the lighting on the final page: when the ceiling was first seen it was violet, but with Gath revealing himself it’s gone red. Very, very nice. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, sounds, dialogue, yells, scene settings, and signage are created by Simon Bowland. Everything is easily read and I am so appreciative that Sonja’s narration is in a different font from all other forms of text. It should be set apart from everything since it’s another form of communication, and Bowland earns huge points for doing so. The scene settings on this book are dynamic, with each looking incredibly powerful, and the sounds punctuate the action awesomely. Outstanding work. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: This is the best adventure comic available. Not purchasing this book would make you as vile as Kulan Gath. The story is exciting and visuals stunning. Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A

To purchase a print copy of this book go to http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513025379803011

To purchase a digital copy of this book go to http://www.dynamite.com/digital/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513025379803011=1

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.

    7 Comments on this post.
  • Nb
    22 March 2017 at 10:32 am -

    #2 was even better … shame you guys didn’t review it. The most fun Red Sonja comic I’ve ever read and I’ve read pretty much every Red Sonja story.

    • Ian Cullen
      22 March 2017 at 1:06 pm -

      Thanks for your feedback.

      We do try to review as many comics as possible, but with us also being a television based reviews site. It is difficult to cover everything. And Patrick, Oral and myself try to hit as many things as we can.

      Patrick is a huge Red Sonja fan. So if he missed the second issue. It would most likely have been because of other commitments with family or work. We’re all volunteers here at scifipulse.net and we all do what we can with the limited free time that we all have.

      Again thanks for reading and for your support with regards to the website and our comics reviews.

      If you have any titles you’d like us to maybe look into feel free to let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

      • Nb
        22 March 2017 at 1:19 pm -

        I didn’t mean that to come across as a criticism of IP, I know how busy you all must be. Just posting out how good #2 was and I’m sure Patrick’s read it in any case.

      • Ian Cullen
        23 March 2017 at 1:13 am -

        Nb. I didn’t take it as criticism. I was just buying a little time for Patrick to get back to you:)

  • Patrick Hayes
    22 March 2017 at 9:08 pm -

    Nb, I did read it, but didn’t have time to review it, unfortunately. That’s why I sometimes skip issues. I freely admit it’s difficult for me to keep up with the publishing pace. For the record, I did like Issue #2 and would have given that an A as well.

    • Nb
      22 March 2017 at 9:44 pm -

      Thanks, Patrick. Personally I think #3 lost a step from #2 but that was inevitable with Amy getting back onto the story properly. The motorbike scene was funny, the art as great as ever but I’d have liked to have seen more to the fight scenes, the bar scene and gala dragged a bit, and why spend half a page showing off Sonja’s new look when that’s only going to last 4 more pages? I still think this is the best Sonja run since Eric Trautmann’s though, and there had never been a Sonja run this witty.

      • Nb
        22 March 2017 at 9:50 pm -

        The panels of the She-Devil striding right into the middle of the enemy group without even having drawn her sword, declaring “Sonja does not hide”? Amy Chu NAILED the essence of Red Sonja right there and those panels alone were worth the price of admission.

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