In Review: Legenderry Red Sonja #2

A daring rescue reveals a larger threat in this installment.

The covers: A beautiful trio of covers for completists to collect. The A Cover is by Joe Benitez with colors by Beth Sotelo. This has Sonja sitting upon one of the incredible metallic shapes that Benitez fantastically creates on many of his covers. She has one hand on her hip and the other holds her sword, point down, while she stares at the reader in challenge. She looks great, with a green bandanna around her head which sport some goggles, brown gloves, green pants, and brown boots that match her belt. She wears her trademark metal bikini top, because she’s not Sonja without it. This is beautiful in every possible way. The B Cover is the B&W Incentive cover and it sports the same image by Benitez, though without any of Sotelo’s contributions. I like this, but I prefer it in color. Best is Cover C, the “Virgin” Incentive cover, by Benitez and Sotelo. This is the same as the A cover, but without any text. If one likes to see their art in its pure form, this is the way to go. Overall grades: A A, B A-, and C A+

The story: The first four pages of Marc Andreyko’s tale open several days in the future, with Sonja and Tesla, who’s carrying D’nar, running from ghostly pale natives who are carrying bows. The trio comes to a cliff filled with bats flitting about. Stuck between the natives and the water, they choose the ocean and leap. They dive deep where they come upon the submarine that Sonja captains. The red head opens the top portal and the story moves back to “Days Earlier.” Sonja asks Tesla how she knows where Kulan Gath’s island of evil is located and the woman shows the Hyrkanian. She uses a very cool item that does something very impressive. I love tools like this in fantasy stories and my hat’s off to Andreyko for incorporating it. There’s a quick page that shows Kulan and D’nar, with the later receiving some severe interrogation from his father. The women are able to locate D’nar, but things don’t go easy for them after Sonja makes a point on Page 13. I liked Kulan Gath’s reaction to their escape at the bottom of the next page; I didn’t expect that, but he did. The story is briefly interrupted by returning to an individual from the previous issue. This hints that the ending of this series will contain conflicts from both the mythological and the modern world. The final three pages reveal that the supernatural danger of Gath is not the only threat for the heroes, as something is brought up that could result in a race to discover before the villains find it. I like the action, I like Kulan Gath, and I like Sonja in this fanciful modern world. I’m definitely on board for the next issue. Overall grade: A

The art: Igor Lima’s artwork continues to be strong. The opening page looks terrific as the heroes try to beat a hasty escape from their pursuers. Sonja’s reaction in the fourth panel is great and is completely justified by the wonderful vertical panel that shows the cliffs, the bats, and the angry sea. What follows is a double-paged splash that is only Lima’s misstep of the entire book. It shows the threesome leaping into the water as the natives fire arrows at them. For a book that’s incredibly detailed, this illustration is not up to the same standards. The natives are outlines of characters, the cliffs are sketchy, and the heroes in the foreground are awkwardly falling — Tesla looks as though she’s twisted impossibly at her waist, Sonja has her eyes closed when they should be open, and D’nar looks as though he’s enjoying the fall. There are speed lines around the characters, but not issuing from them and the arrows are just frozen in place. This could have been a spectacular visual and it’s not. However, a turn of the page and the incredible artwork returns: the water is amazing, the cliffs spectacular, and the sub marvelous. Look at how well Sonja and Tesla look on Page 5, with that final panel on the page wonderful. I’m really impressed with this scene on the pages that follow because Lima is able to make Tesla look younger than Sonja; often illustrators will have characters be close in age, but Tesla is noticeably younger than the title character, but not so young that she’s a child. The backgrounds are also well done, with pipes everywhere, which is what one would expect of a submarine’s interior. The action in the second panel on 13 is awesome: it’s graphic and shows Sonja acting to character. Kulan Gath looks incredible on 14, with his mirror deliriously creepy. The final two panels on 16 are a terrific way to show how Gath gathers information. With exception to Pages 2 and 3, this book looks good. Overall grade: B+

The colors: The first page shows Adriano Augusto coloring superbly. I love that the jungle settings are dim in grays and blues, turning into bright yellows for the sunlight that they’ve run into. It’s a nice visual trick as bright light is associated with salvation, but all it does is reveal the protagonists are cornered. The close-up of Sonja in the fourth panel is particularly cool. As with the art, the colors on 2 and 3 aren’t great, but suffice to transition to 4 where they become dynamic once again. I love the rays of light that penetrate into the deep waters and the crimson that emerges when Sonja opens the portal to the sub. The red light in Tesla’s quarters make the conversation that occurs there urgent. The three panel progression on Page 8 uses color for a very cinematic transition. The use of oranges and yellows on 9 is perfectly hellish, mirroring the action of the story. I like the blues and the violets for the night setting on 11 and how the sky goes a burnt orange on the next page when Kulan Gath’s keep is shown — very ominous. 15 has some eerie sick greens to accentuate the villain and his lair. An improvement over last issue are the bright sounds, which have me increasing this category’s score. Overall grade: A

The letters: Thomas Napolitano is the letterer for this issue and he creates narration, dialogue, sounds, yells, scene settings, whispers, and the tease for next issue. The narration continues to be a stand out for its use of lower case letters, making Sonja’s thoughts seem more personal than her dialogue. The whispers are neat, for being easily read, but obviously spoken under someone’s breath. There are many different sounds in this issue with them all being strong save the BONGs which are oddly constructed and at weird angles to each other. Still, that’s a minor nit with some solid work done. Overall grade: A

The final line: A daring rescue reveals a larger threat in this installment. The story has plenty of action and villainy, while the visuals have some impressive details. Perfect reading for fans of Robert E. Howard, Steampunk, or escapist fare. I can’t wait for the next issue. Overall grade: A-

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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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