In Review: Red Sonja #14

A good entry point for new readers as Sonja makes her way to finding Kulan Gath.

The covers: Eight covers for one to gather if Kulan Gath doesn’t want them for himself. Jonboy Meyers has created a spectacular A cover which shows the Hyrkanian after a battle has ended. She has a huge bloody broadsword resting on her right shoulder and her left holds a shield that’s cracked, bloodied, and has more than a few arrows sticking out of it. Clouds of debris snake up from the bottom of the image, while victorious rays of sunlight rain down upon Sonja as if blessed by the gods. Can someone please get Meyers his own series for Sonja or at least a one-shot? The B cover is also a winner from artist Carlos Gomez. This has the warrior emerging from a swath of flame and smoke. Her teeth are gritted as she takes a step onto sturdier ground. In her hards are a longsword and a battleaxe. On her back she carries her shield. Sonja looks amazing and the coloring is spot on. A different sort of cover is the C by Gisele Lagace. This has Sonja rendered in Manga style, leaping forward with a sword held by both hands. I’ve never seen Sonja like this before and she looks fantastic. This is a great interpretation of the character and the colors are excellent — the blue and yellow speed line background really makes the title character pop. The Cosplay cover is the D frontpiece that features a cosplayer with long crimson hair holding a red cape in her right hand. The garment does not fully conceal the warrior’s trademark metal bikini. This Sonja looks upon the reader with dismissal, giving a silent warning that to approach would mean certain doom. Fan favorite Art Baltazar is the artist on the E cover. Sonja wields a sword in her right hand and a shield in her left to protect herself from the menace of the ten lizard men that surround her. The characters look terrific and the colors are spectacularly bold. I especially like the orange and yellow explosion that’s the background. The F cover is a B&W Incentive cover featuring uncolored art of the A cover. If one liked that then they are sure to like this. Legaces’s work also graces an Incentive cover and is the G B&W cover. I like this as well. The final cover, the H, is yet another B&W cover, this one featuring Gomez’s B cover. This also is slick. Overall grades: A A+, B A, C A, D A-, E A+, F A, G A-, and H A-

The story: The book starts spectacularly with the reveal of Charon, the Ferryman of the Dead, who has arrived to give passage for Sonja and Professor Wallace. The pair are not seeking to return to New York, but the time period that Sonja is more familiar with. This story is by Amy Chu & Erik Burnham, with the script by the latter. Before the pair board, Wallace thinks he saw some of his family members, but Sonja knows that this is just a trick and he needs to return to the land of the living so that he can help her avenge the deaths of all Kulan Gath has killed. Once aboard, time loses all meaning and the passengers cannot tell if they have been on for minutes or days. Wallace foolishly strokes the water as they make their way, attracting the attention of some poor souls who don’t have his best intentions at heart. How Charon deals with them is neat. The pair eventually make land and Sonja spies an landmark that has grown considerably since she last saw it. The two happen upon an outpost where they get some things they need to complete their journey. It was neat to see much of this issue was devoted to this pair on the road. Often this is skipped over in books to get to the villain so some heroing can be done. The banter between the two is great, with Sonja just wanting to get to the baddie, while Wallace tries to educate her. I really like the realistic reaction from Sonja at the bottom of 8, which is hilarious and honest. If this is a reader’s first issue of Red Sonja, Page 9 is a quick summary of all that’s occurred in this series. On Page 10 the action begins and it’s intense. A large group runs into the twosome and soon swords are swinging, arrows flying, and magic used. It’s a great battle with the tide turning with another pair of characters arriving. It was good to see these individuals finally meet with Sonja, as they give her important information. The last two pages show Kulan Gath using Max for nefarious purposes. The final panel is a great jaw-dropper of a cliffhanger that will have me anxiously awaiting to see what happens next. Overall grade: A+  

The art: Carlos Gomez continues to be one of my favorite artists for making every element of this book look fantastic. The reveal of Charon on the first page looks stunning! When the character is shown in three-quarters view on the second page the detail is just as staggering with some incredible work done on his tattered clothes. Look at the smoke that surrounds his appearance and constantly streams from the water, giving the setting a supernatural flavor. The work done with the rocky background is also impressive. The location where Sonja and Wallace find themselves on 6 is terrific, with its exterior wonderfully hiding all the items that lie within it. The forest work on 8 is also as solid. I laughed out loud at Sonja’s close up at the bottom of the page because it perfectly captures the visual that the dialogue demands of it. The work with sunlight in the final panel is beautiful. Page 9 is the summary page and it’s a really neat bit of visual work. Often these pages can become bores for readers who’ve been present since the beginning, but it’s got some great action scenes that keep the reader riveted. The individual that leaps out on 10 looks great and sets up the final panel very well — great sense of motion in that last panel. The entrance of the characters at the top of 11 is sensational, with their close ups at the bottom wonderful. When Sonja springs into action on the following page she’s fantastic! The close up of the villain in the fourth panel is delightfully evil. I was shocked at the end of 13, but this is a Sonja book, so this is to be expected. The entrance on 15 is also spectacular. Seriously, what isn’t spectacular in Gomez’s visuals? There’s a lot of dialogue on 18, but Gomez knows how to provide enough space for it and still keep the art lavish. The magic on the penultimate page has me incredibly eager to see the hero and villain face off. I love Gomez’s visuals. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring on this book by Mohan is as strong as Gomez’s art. Look at the excellent job on Charon: the character is black and off-white and stands against a light blue and gray background. One would think that such a color scheme would have all these colors blending in to one another, but they don’t — Charon dominates his scenes. Sonja is also a constant stand out on the opening pages, as well as those that follow. Her dynamic red hair and her pink skin, of which much is showing, has her pop out on every page. Wallace’s green sweater has the old wizard getting focus as well. The interior of the setting the pair enter on 6 is incredible warm which befits the lights within it. Making the fifth panel on Page 8 work well are the colors, which has Mohan doing some slick coloring on Sonja’s skin. When the sun goes down, Mohan gives everything a blue tone to emulate the night without drowning the pages in ebony. The splash of green at the bottom of 13 was gross goodness! The light blues and violets used for the magic of the 19 is wonderful, making me crave more magic in this series. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Simon Bowland creates dialogue, screams, sounds, yells, and the tease for next issue. There’s a considerable amount of dialogue in this issue, but fear not reader — Bowland is skilled to place it so that it never covers any element of the art that’s key to this issue’s story. The yells are done in different sizes and fonts to show the reader the different strengths of each bellow. The sounds are absolutely killer, with those during the fight spot on: it’s hard not to love a good THWIK and THUK, not to mention a solid SVASH. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is a travel issue as Sonja and Wallace travel from Point A to Point B. Their journey is fun, with the character interactions incredibly enjoyable. The battle is terrific, with different modes of attack used and a good number of characters involved. The visuals are outstanding, with the art perfect and the colors wonderful. Even the letters are a visual treat. A good entry point for new readers as Sonja makes her way to finding Kulan Gath. 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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