In Review: Red Sonja: The Black Tower #1

The latest saga of the She-Devil with a sword starts in strong fashion.

The cover: In her traditional garb and bearing a sword, Sonja turns from a gnarled tree to gaze upon the skeletal ruins of a tower just appearing out of an orange-red mist. Sensational image by Amanda Conner. I love how Sonja’s hair is flailing about like tentacles, and the ruins of the tower have that classic 1960’s pulp cover art look. The colors by Paul Mounts highlight the artwork by applying the right amount of shading to Sonja’s skin and great streaks in her hair. The ruins are especially well colored, giving a mist aura to the crumbling structure. Overall grade: A

The story: The first of a four issue limited series is quick on the intro and heavy on the action, which is how Red Sonja fans would probably prefer things. Writer Frank Tieri opens his tale in dramatic fashion through an unnamed narrator who states on the first page that this is “The tale of Sonja the Red. And the tale of the day she died.” Looking for respite in the city of Lur, she is confronted by the Black Tower, a completely out of place structure in the center of town, complete with smoke swirling about it and vultures gliding above its spires. Suddenly the people on the streets begin attacking one another. Naturally, Sonja gets involved. Pages 6 and 7 establish a heavy for the book, but he’s not going to be the true antagonist of the piece. His justification for his actions on page 9 is understandable, but his action on 10 truly crosses the line, and he pays it. The action on 11 – 15 is savage and solid. There’s a nice surprise on 16, teasing a future revelation and a complete turnabout on 17 whose origins shouldn’t be hard to discern. Page 19 has a great simmering of anger that will rise again (no pun intended) in a later issue. Things have been set up nicely and I want to see more. Overall grade: A

The art: This is how Red Sonja should look. Cezar Razek starts things off rightly with Sonja riding over a hill with the sun hidden by ominous clouds. She looks terrific from a distance and then the bottom two-thirds of the page shows her in close-up, tired from her previous adventure. The city of Lur is filled with many details, including the impressive stonework on the buildings. The Black Tower is an overpowering structure that stole some of the life out of me when I gazed upon it. When the citizens go bonkers it’s an amazing piece of work with fists, swords, and blood flying. The design of the antagonist on 6 is great, and his female companion is equally well done. There’s a lot of blood in this book and fans of swordplay will be more than satisfied. The look of this book is tops. Overall grade: A

The colors: Continuing their streak of excellence for Dynamite is the Salvatore Aiala Studios. The first panel of the book establishes the skills of this group instantly with its superior shading on Sonja’s mount, the shades of our heroine’s skin, and the cloud covered sky. In fact, the clouds look tremendous in this book, as you can follow their swirl around the Black Tower due to the coloring. My favorite page was 8 with all the work that went into it–I really like how the characters in the background have muted colors to create a distance from the characters in the foreground. Overall grade: A

The letters: Simon Bowland brings narration, dialogue, and some super sounds to this issue. The SPLLTT on Page 7 is great. Overall grade: A

The final line: The lastest saga of the She-Devil with a sword starts in strong fashion. Enemies are encountered and cut down, but the Tower still stands, and it is watching her. Overall grade: A

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two 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.

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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