In Review: Red Sonja #12

The adventure and humor, combined with exceptional visuals, make this a series to follow.

The covers: Eight different frontpieces for fans to collect this month. The A cover is by Ben Caldwell and has an angry Sonja shown from the waist up, screaming in rage at an unseen foe. She looks great, much more a fighter than the glamorous woman she’s often shown as. Behind her is a series of repeating pistols done in a hypnotic spiral. I really like this take on the She-Devil with a Sword. The B cover is a very stark illustration of Sonja in black, white, and red by Juan Doe (who is the artist on the incredible World Reader from After Shock Comics). The Hyrkanian is shown from the right, turning slightly to gaze upon the reader indignantly. She has her sword up, with the bloody blade behind her. She is nicked and scarred from the battle, with the background behind her full of red splotches on a black surface. Very strong and a very effective cover. The C by Pia Guerra is a very cool cover. Sonja is shown from the back on the right side of this cover, hunched over as though she’s stalking something in a snow covered woods. Blood drips from her sword, staining the snow scarlet in spots. I think it’s neat that the hero doesn’t show her face on this, but captures her personality and the book’s tone wonderfully. This is really cool. The D is the Cosplay Variant cover, featuring Casabella as Sonja, photographed by TL Photography. Again, I congratulate Dynamite for having cosplay covers, promoting the hobby and making these covers really stand out against others on the stands. This is the cover I chose to accompany this review, showing Sonja from the waist up in her metal bikini, also wearing fingerless black gloves and a red cloak. She, too, is in a winter forest, with a smattering of snowflakes around her. Very nice. Please continue and expand this, Dynamite…You do have a Deja Thoris book restarting soon….I’m just saying. The Subscription cover is the E cover by Andre Lima Araujo. In a back alley, Sonja wields her sword to protect herself from white energy that roars past her. The energy on this cover is terrific, and Sonja’s stand against such a furious onslaught great. Her face looks a little off, though. The F is the “Virgin” Incentive frontpiece by Ben Caldwell, featuring the same artwork as the A cover, minus all text. If one likes that cover, one will like this. The same can be said of the G cover “Virgin” Incentive, with art by Juan Doe, which is the same as the B cover, sans text. The final cover is the H, the B/W Incentive featuring the art of Pia Guerra’s C cover without any text. This has the logo in black and white with the same image. This is just as awesome. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A+, D A-, E B-, F A, G A, and H A+

The story: Amy Chu and Erik Burnham are responsible for the story, with scripting done by the latter. The issue opens with Sonja and Wallace in a warehouse. The pair stand before a time portal created by Kulan Gath. Wallace countered this vile wizard with a duplication spell of his own, which infuriates Sonja, who wonders if there is a duplicate of her in her timeline. Wallace says he doesn’t know and wonders if he and she might be the duplicates with the originals are on the other side. “Then I shall join them and find out.” She enters and all goes black. Sonja wakes up in a desolate desert, with distant mountains in the background. She sees Wallace, and wakes him. The wizard recalls falling through the portal with Kulan Gath, prompting the warrior to state they need to find him. Wallace is no help, as he’s out of power. This doesn’t help Sonja’s mood, who stomps off through the dunes with the wizard trailing behind. This Sonja and Wallace are obviously not the same pair that started the book, leaving the reader wondering which twosome are the real characters. It’s interesting to think about, but there are more pressing matters starting on Page 5: the villain is shown with his newest slave. Sonja and Wallace make their way to a town where some new characters are introduced and a side mission is introduced. It’s during this side adventure that some heavy action occurs, ending with a solid cliffhanger. This series started fun and continues to be so, with thrills and humor making this an enjoyable and satisfying read. Overall grade: A

The art: I loved Carlos Gomez’s work on The Dresden Files he did for Dynamite and I continue to be enamored with his visuals. He not only creates excellent characters, but his settings are also terrific. The first page shows this in the first panel as the large warehouse the characters are in looks great. Wallace’s expression and stance in the second panel instantly shows the reader that he’s submissive to Sonja, who shows her dominance in the two panels that follow. Her emotion is great in both of these and her full appearance in the fourth panel shows her as a strong woman not to be trifled with. The waking on Page 2 is good, with her awakening of Wallace quick and funny. The large panel atop the next page nicely establishes the setting and situation. The disdain on Sonja’s face in the third panel on 4 is excellent. And speaking of excellent, check out the first panel on 5 — Holy cow! That’s amazing looking! The slow pull in to the villain is equally impressive. Where Sonja and Wallace end up on Page 7 is also outstanding, with a funny visual reaction in the fourth panel on 8. When the characters begin their side quest on 11, Sonja looks like a killer, while Wallace is completely out of place. The action at the bottom of 12 is a perfect, a small start to what explodes into an intense action sequence. These threats are standard villains in fantasy stories and their numbers often have them not being completely rendered by artists, but Gomez makes these foes look exceptional, with them also being incredibly graphic on 16. When the survivors end up is the visual definition of a last resort, and becomes solidified as being one with the full-paged splash on the last page. Gomez’s work is flawless. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Mohan’s work is also flawless. Look how the characters on the first page have the power of the portal create a reflection on them in the third panel, visually showing the strength of this doorway. Sonja’s crimson hair makes her an eye catcher on every page she appears; combined with the ample amount of pale skin she shows, it’s impossible for her not to stand out. This is evident in the setting that she and Wallace enter on 7, which has the appropriate candle lit wooden interiors that are beautiful. The foes of the issue are aged in darker colors, but are done so that no details of the art are ever lost. When blood begins to flow in the battle, it’s appropriately jarring. There’s some neat coloring done with a flame on the penultimate page that provides some warmth in a desolate location. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue sees letterer Simon Bowland creating dialogue, a waking voice, scene settings, villainous dialogue, sounds, and yells. Bowland always does great work and this issue proves it. The scene settings are bold and make the transitions to new locations exciting. The villain’s speech is visually creepy, increasing his ick factor exponentially. The sounds are great, they always are, and really shine when the action kicks in. How could a reader not love Bowland’s work? Overall grade: A

The final line: Sonja’s back in her correct time, searching for Kulan Gath, but encountering other evils. Since its debut this series has been fun and continues to be so. Even in her familiar world, Sonja is a force to be reckoned with. The adventure and humor, combined with exceptional visuals, make this a series to follow. Long live Sonja! 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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