In Review: Legenderry Red Sonja #1

Grab your goggles and gizmos, get a copy of this book, and enjoy this crimson haired heroine.

The covers: Eight covers for this fantastic first issue. The A cover is by the extremely talented Joe Benitez with colors by Beth Sotelo. If Joe Benitez does anything, it must be sought out. The incredible talent behind Lady Mechanika has Sonja looking beautiful and deadly on this, as well as the three covers that follow. Sonja has her left hand on the sword that hangs at her side. Her right hand holds an ornate pistol high and ready for action. Her hips are tilted due to one knee being tilted in. Behind her is the exceptionally odd but mesmerizing metal sculptures that Benitez places on his covers. The art on this is beautiful and the colors by Sotelo make the character really stand out against the background. This is a must-own cover. The B is the B/W Incentive by Benitez and is the same as the A cover, just without the contributions of Sotelo. I like this, but I prefer it with Sotelo’s work. The C is the “Virgin Art” Incentive cover by Benitez and Sotelo is the same as the A, but without any text. If one wants this image in its pure state, this is the way to get it. The D is the “Blood Red” Incentive by Benitez which is the same as the B cover, though the line work has been colored red, making it really pop on the white background. Another way to view Benitez’s work and it’s great. The E is the Blank Authentix sketch cover Variant that has only the text at the top of the book, leaving the rest blank so that an artist can create a one of a kind original cover or have all the series’ creators sign it. I love these covers for the possibilities that can occur, but left blank they’re not much. The KRS Comics Exclusive cover features art by Tyler Kirkham with colors by Sabine Rich and it is outstanding. Sonja’s back is to the reader. Her left hand has a sword which she holds defensively over her back, while her right has a similar weapon, though held low. Her hair is fantastic as it flows about her and the coloring is superb. This is one to find. The KRS Comics Exclusive cover that’s a Bikini/Rain Variant, also by Kirkham and Rich, has the character in the exact same pose wielding the same weapons, though Sonja is wearing a bikini bottom that’s barely on her. The background is a dark blue for night and the other colors have been dimmed considerably. This looks exceptional. The KRS Comics Con Exclusive cover White Background Variant, by Kirkham and Rich, featuring the same art and colors as the KRS Comics Exclusive, though the background has been eliminated, leaving a white background. It’s beautiful. Overall grades: A A+, B A, C A+, D A, E C, KRS Exclusive A+, KRS Comics Exclusive Bikini/Rain Variant A+, and KRS Comics Con Exclusive White Background Variant A+

The story: Author Marc Andreyko begins this tale with Sonja playing poker against crime boss Tobias Thorne. She shows the man that she has a royal flush. “Impossible!” he screams. “And, where, my crimson haired friend, did that extra ace come from?” Her eyes narrow and she says it came from the extra deck hidden in his belt. Thorne throws the table aside at her accusation, allowing Sonja to pull her sword and slit his pants at the waist, revealing a deck of cards that drop to the floor. What happens next on the fourth page is terrific: it’s the perfect declaration by Sonja, followed by an outstanding exit. Having a character on the run is an exciting way to begin any story, but Andreyko ups this to an epic level by the choice of vehicle she uses to make a complete getaway. However, before she makes her escape, a cloaked figure watches her run. This figure jumps off a bridge to follow the Hyrkanian. This mystery character’s presence is detected and Sonja, being the leader of her group, goes out to get her. This is another neat moment, showing Sonja’s ability to get in and out of dangerous situations and show off some Steampunk technology. There’s an excellent aside from Sonja in the fourth panel on 16 that made me laugh and showed a side of her that’s not often shown in any of her exploits. This stranger shares her tale with Sonja and sets up the premise for this series, with the final page revealing the villain. If anyone has been reading Sonja’s current series published by Dynamite (Which is flippin’ fantastic!), the antagonist won’t be a surprise. That said, the reveal of this individual is deliciously dark. Overall grade: A

The art: A Steampunk comic really puts the screws to the artist to produce a work that not only has to create unique characters and settings, but all the little details that one expects of the genre. Artist Igor Lima creates some very successful visuals for this book. The opening page is a splash of Sonja from Thorne’s point of view. She sits across the table, a mug of ale in one hand, displaying her winning hand in the other. She looks outstanding. She’s got goggles on her forehead, instantly identifying this as not the typical Sonja tale. Behind her are two barely seen men, wearing leather jackets and one sporting a very ornate sword. In the background is a well stocked bar. The next page shows the pair of opponents at the table and take a look at all the work Lima does on the table’s support — why it’s there I don’t know, but it looks incredibly cool. Look at the close-up of Thorne in the second panel. What a terrific grotesque face. The third panel is a terrific close-up of Sonja’s eyes and the smile on her face at the bottom of the page shows the reader how much joy she takes in proving her point through drastic actions. The third panel on 4 is a great visual punchline and the panels that follow show a great escape. The first panel on Page 5 shows the character in a unique angle, but that’s the position she would be in as she completes that action. The fifth panel on 6 is an awesomely detailed point of view, leading to the mysterious character at the bottom of the page. The escape on 8 and 9 is dramatic and thrilling. The clothing that Sonja wears on 11 is outstanding: modern, yet fanciful. The top of 12 has a character caught in a beautiful bellow. The final few pages don’t provide Lima with much to illustrate beyond the characters and the confining setting, but the final page makes up for this with the reveal of the villain on a full-paged splash and his victim in the background. I’m so looking forward to what Lima will create for this series. Overall grade: A

The colors: Sometimes Steampunk books get caught up in its technology, resulting in books colored too darkly. That’s not the case thankfully due to Adriano Augusto’s bright colors. The first page shows Sonja’s skin and hair standing out against the green felt of the gambling table and the browns and blacks on the characters and bar behind her. Look at the neat job Augusto did with the colors on the glass Sonja holds: everything seen through it is lightened, showing the glass not to be wholly transparent. Thorne’s dark colors instantly mark him as a villain, and Sonja is the character that the reader cannot help but look upon due to her fiery hair. Sonja’s narration is colored orange to alert the reader as to whom is thinking each time it appears. The interiors of Sonja’s vehicle have excellent emeralds for futuristic flairs, but also some solid reds to make it appear dangerous. I also have to applaud Augusto’s use of pink on the final page. It’s not a color associated with evil doings, but now it is. My only nit is the sounds are colored too dully, which has them blending in too easily with the background. Many are also deadened by their bland colors. These could have been much stronger with brighter coloring. Overall grade: A- 

The letters: Thomas Napolitano creates narration, dialogue, sounds, yells, weakened speech, laughter, and the tease for next issue. I enjoy when a letterer uses a unique font for narration and Napolitano does so, using lower case letters for her thoughts — so cool! The dialogue is placed well in this book, whose artwork demands that key elements cannot be covered or obscured. The sounds are a little problematic, inserted awkwardly at times, in fonts that aren’t helped by the colors. The final page has some terrific weakly spoken dialogue, wonderful wicked laughter, and an awesome looking tease for next issue. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Terrific Steampunk adventure in the city and on the high seas featuring a sensational Red Sonja. The story is fun, the art detailed, and the premise terrific. Grab your goggles and gizmos, get a copy of this book, and enjoy this crimson haired heroine. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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To see 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.
  • jack
    16 February 2018 at 2:10 am -

    ‘ If anyone has been reading Sonja’s current series published by Dynamite (Which is flippin’ fantastic!), the protagonist won’t be a surprise. That said, the reveal of this individual is deliciously dark.’

    Given the series is called Legenderry Red Sonja, it should be no surprise the protagonist is Red Sonja. The antagonist, though, his reveal was rendered splendidly.

  • Patrick Hayes
    16 February 2018 at 2:54 am -

    Jack, thank you for that catch. I should have said “antagonist” and will change it immediately. Thank you!

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