In Review: Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1

Sonja is drawn into conflict with a cult. The Gods had better help the cultists.

The covers: A trio to collect on your way to Stygia. The sensational Jay Anacleto and Ivan Nunes do the A cover. This is an entirely new setting I’ve seen from Anacleto as it’s in the night. I’m used to him doing illustrations of beautiful women in the daytime, but this is as good as anything he’s done before. A caped Sonja stands atop a rock with two swords out to attack any foes. Just behind her are the branches of a dead tree populated by several vultures. And just behind them is a valley full of several soldiers. Gorgeous artwork with super colors by Nunes makes this very three dimensional. The B cover is by Walter Geovani and Alex Guimaraes. This is an equally gorgeous image, this time with Sonja sheathing her sword after falling a foe and setting a city ablaze. Sonja looks magnificent in her metal bikini in the middle of this carnage and the coloring is spectacular. Love the flames on this! The C cover by Lucio Parrillo is a brutal one. Sonja looks indifferently down at two hands, covered in blood, begging for mercy. Her right hand holds her victim down, while the left holds the bloody knife that she will use on him again. This cover is a stark reminder that just because she’s beautiful doesn’t mean she’s not a killer. Wow! Overall grades: All A

The story: The first chapter of Nancy A. Collins and Luke Lieberman’s story opens at the Temple of Set in the city of Luxur, Stygia. A priest named Sefkh tries to persuade virgin Nanu to serve the Great Serpent in other ways (If you know what he means…), but is interrupted by Lord Tathra and two burly guards who take the girl and bind her to an altar saying, “Prepare yourself for the coming of the Lord.” Two other sacrifices are brought in and their throats cut. Their blood is caught and Tathra recites an incantation and has Sefkh feed her the potion. Then something truly horrific occurs. Things don’t go as planned at the temple with only one priest escaping. Sonja’s introduction to the tale is a powerful three pages that has a nice surprise on Page 11. The next two pages illustrate where Sonja is at this point in her life before moving to the final setting and her meeting with the sole survivor from the temple. Things get pumped up a level on 16, leading to a great Sonja comment on 17. This was an enjoyable read that has all the elements one would want in a Sonja tale. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals by Fritz Casas are what I want in a Red Sonja story. His temples are forbidding, the fighters strong, the women gorgeous, the men buff, and the action intense. The magic in this opening installment is also spectacular. Dark doings on Page 3 are graphic, but appropriate for the story, and 5 – 7 are downright disturbing. I was glad the antagonist on those pages is only hinted at, such as in silhouette, leaving its true visage hidden for later. The double-paged spread on 8 and 9 is a superb introduction to the title character. Her foe is great and serves to show how superior a fighter she is. Page 11 is a nice transition which smoothly shows the real her. The incident that begins on 16 starts slowly and then explodes by Page 18, becoming an excellent conflict. The final page is a solid tease for next issue with all four characters defined by their poses. This is excellent work. Overall grade: A

The colors: Adriano Augusto does quite a bit in setting the tone of this book. His colors give the temple an ancient atmosphere. There are some excellent fire and shadow effects in this location. I really like the coloring on Tathra’s garb which instantly sets him apart from others. The greens on 4 and 6 are fantastic! Red comes into play often in this book, and not because it’s Sonja’s hair color. When crimson shows itself it’s shocking. I also like the tan coloring used for the narration boxes which help age the story. My favorite page by Augusto is 18–excellent bright colors against a beautiful blue sky. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene setting and narration (same beautiful font), dialogue, screams, sounds, a hiss, and an individual’s deliciously inhuman speech that starts on 19 are all crafted by Joshua Cozine. I love the narration font and the creepy font of the antagonist. Overall grade: A

The final line: Sonja is drawn into conflict with a cult. The Gods had better help the cultists. An excellent outing that will please fans. Overall grade: A

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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