In Review: Red Sonja #7

Sonja's road trip across America only stops for action and adventure. Seat belts are optional.

The covers: Mike McKone is the artist of the A cover which features Sonja wearing a leather jacket, riding a motorbike. Behind her is a beautiful blue sky that’s actually the United States stretched out. Evidently Sonja is taking her road trip, that begins in this issue, seriously. Great cover featuring the nation in a clever way. The B is by Ben Caldwell and it’s a fantastic throwback to the days of of those quarter rides outside of stores that disappeared after the 1980s. Sonja, accompanied by two green imps having too much fun, is riding the Dapper Duk, a gigantic white duck. She’s holding out a sword as the duck bobs up and down. Outstanding frontpiece. The C is by Tyler Kirkham with colors by Romulo Fajardo. Sonja strikes a pose, going down to one knee with a knife before her. A smile is on her face as the world burns behind her. Great image and good colors. The image I chose to accompany this review is the D, the Cosplay Photo Variant, featuring Krystle Starr, photographed by David Ngo. Starr looks great, in the chain mail bikini and furry boots, standing before a waterfall, holding a massive battleaxe. I’m so glad that Dynamite has chosen to go with cosplay covers for variants because they, like this cover, look terrific. The E is the Subscription Variant by Mel Rubi with colors by Omi Remalante. Against a violet background, Sonja holds her sword before her as she comes upon a small altar with several lit candles and a bowl. Surrounding the altar are seven severed heads on pikes. This is a fantastic cover with eerie imagery and sensational colors. The F is “Virgin Art” Incentive Cosplay Photo Variant. It’s exactly the same as the D, save no text. If one is looking for just a picture of Sonja, this is the one for you. The G is the B/W Incentive that’s the A cover by Mike McKone without colors. I like it, but I like it better with the colors. The H is the B/W Incentive that’s the E cover by Mel Rubi without colors. I feel the same about this as I did about the G. The I is the Groupees Exclusive by Craig Cermak with colors by Chris O’Halloran. It’s a bust shot of an angry Sonja, up close and personal. She’s got a sword before her, though she’s raised an ax behind her to smite the reader. I don’t like the coloring on this, which has her skin in grays. I don’t know what O’Halloran was looking to achieve. Better is the J is the Groupees B/W Exclusive by Cermak, without O’Halloran’s contributions. Overall grades: A A+, B A+, C A-, D A+, E A+, F A+, G B, H B, I C-, and J B+

The story: The story starts with Sonja speeding on a hog into West Virginia with her broadsword on her back. She’s being followed by four other bikers who look as though they’re out for blood. Amy Chu then turns back the clock to twelve hours earlier with Sonja, Molly, and Spike trying to track down a Stanford professor to help get Sonja back to her correct time. When the trio get to Pennsylvania they have to stop for gas and a bathroom break. Spike’s a little worried about the rest stop, so Sonja wants to enter armed, but she’s convinced to leave her sword in the car. In West Virginia they stop for the night, wondering how Max is fairing, considering they last some him hurling through a portal into the past. Chu shows the reader what’s become of Max as well as who he’s befriended. Though it’s only one page, Max’s predicament left me smiling, though knowing his happy situation can’t last. In the present, Sonja can’t sleep which causes her to wander into a situation. What occurs in this location sets aside Sonja’s trip to help a friend. The action is excellent as Sonja shows herself to be a champion for good, though the final page of the book shows that her she’s being sought by a group that’s not pleased by her actions. A little side note, there’s a swear from Sonja late in the book that had the Lovecraft fan in me very pleased. Chu has got this series going in a new direction and I can tell I’m going to enjoy this ride. Overall grade: A

The art: Carlos Gomez is listed as the book’s sole artist, but Pages 13 – 15 look like a different illustrator, as do Pages 16 -20. The art is good, but is not the work I’m used to seeing by Gomez. The first page shows Highway 64, with a state police car sitting off to the side, the officer taking a sip of coffee. In the final panel a dot is seen on the road, smoke coming out of it — someone is blazing down the highway. This is a great tease before revealing the full-paged splash of Page 2 with Sonja passing the officer, who spills his coffee. She looks overjoyed at what she’s done. The bike she’s on looks photorealistic. On the next page her pursuers are introduced and they look appropriately threatening. With a turn to the past, Gomez creates some sensational settings that the women traverse, including a bridge, the road, and not to mention the highly detailed interior of a car. I laughed out loud at what Max sees when he wakes up as it’s unexpected. The final panel that features him left me chuckling. Sonja’s reaction to her sleeping companions was hilarious and told me that she wouldn’t be staying in the room. The introduction of the antagonists on 9 was great. It was neat to see them be older, rather than the expected young thugs. The best image of the book is on 10 when the Hyrkanian makes her presence known. I know where the bikers were looking, but as a long time Sonja fan, my eye went to her sword because I knew what was coming. Starting on 13 the linework goes extremely thin and is not as angular as Gomez’s usual work. This page and 14 – 15 look fine, but looks very different from the earlier pages; for proof, look at Sonja’s bike — it’s not as detailed. The art changes again on 16, with the settings as highly detailed but the action not as smooth. The final page excellently shows some violent aftermath without showing anything graphic. That said, it looks awesome. I’m a big fan of Gomez’s work, but this issue could not have been entirely illustrated by him. Overall grade: B-

The colors: This issue begins with the sun creeping up over a highway, its light creating a yellow-white glow in the sky and on the road. This is a great color to introduce the star of the book, and it’s behind her when she appears on the second page. Her fiery hair and pale skin are a good contrast to the blinding sun and the gray highway. Look how Mohan creates the effect of a windshield on the ladies’ car by using coloring in the bottom of the third panel on Page 4. The glow inside the rest stop on 5 is a familiar color anyone that’s taken a highway trip. The top of 6 has Mohan making Huntsville beautiful at dusk, especially with the use of blues on the closed shops. The villains on 9 have delightful streaks of gray in their hair to show their age; it’s always neat to see colorists do more than place a uniform color on a character’s hair — and Mohan does so as well for Sonja’s big image on 10. When Sonja’s thoughts are revealed to the reader her thought balloons are given an orange tint which instantly notifies the reader where the words are originating from. Overall grade: A

The letters: Simon Bowland is responsible for the scene settings, Sonja’s thoughts, sounds, dialogue, and yells. The scene settings on this book are really dynamic, bold letters and numbers that are slanted seemingly from the speed of their delivery. Sonja’s dialogue is also a unique font, which visually differentiates from all other text. I particularly like that it employs lower-case letters, which gives her thoughts a more intimate tone. Overall grade: A

The final line: Sonja’s road trip across America only stops for action and adventure. Seat belts are optional. A great start to a new saga, even if the art could have been more consistent. Overall grade: A-

To order a print copy go to https://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513025379807011

To order a digital copy go to https://www.dynamite.com/digital/viewProduct.html?PRO=C72513025379807011=1

To see all the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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.

    2 Comments on this post.
  • Nick
    21 August 2017 at 6:45 am -

    You’re correct that Carlos Gomez didn’t handle all the pencils for this issue. The second artist was Marco Fiorito, who did the first half of #5; he’s a perfectly fine artist but he’s wrong for Sonja IMO. Too realistic and not enough exaggerated comic book artwork. The third artist, who closed the comic, was Rodney Buchemi, and I thought he did an amazing job. I’d happily see him come back to the comic at some point; his graveyard page was the best action scene in ‘Red Sonja’ since the bar fight in #2.

    Clearly, Carlos ran into problems with the deadline here for some reason but I find it odd that Dynamite credited Fiorito for #6, where he had no input, but didn’t credit either Fiorito or Buchemi here.

  • Patrick Hayes
    27 August 2017 at 1:59 am -

    Nick, thanks for the info! I appreciate when everyone is properly credited in a book.

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