In Review: Red Sonja #17

A decent enough issue that begins a new story.

The covers: Eight covers to pick up if your heart is taken by the iconic Hyrkanain. The first cover, the A, is by Mike McKone. Sonja swings an ax behind her head so that she may behead the monstrosity that’s before her. Another creature is rushing up behind her, but I’m sure she’ll be able to kill it as quickly. I like Sonja on this, but the creature she’s facing is very difficult to make out. The coloring doesn’t help, making the beast practically monocolored. The background colors don’t help either, making the creatures blend into it. Better is the B cover by Tula Lotay. Sonja is sitting sideways on a broken throne. She has a tremendous skirt wrapped around her waist that trails down to the floor and spills beyond the bottom of the illustration. She has both hands on her sword with its point in the soil. She looks confident in her place. The coloring is wonderful; they are muted, but the combination of greens, reds, and blues look terrific. The C cover by Jordan Gunderson has Sonja in an action pose, frozen in a forward leap. She’s wearing her trademark bikini armor, but is also sporting brown gloves and a woolly brown cloak. She looks great and the coloring is exceptionally bright, but not over the top. The look on her face, though, is a too passive for such a pose. The D is the Cosplay Photo Variant featuring model Ashely Du photographed by Richard Dufault. This is the image I chose to accompany this review. Du looks sensational in the snow. She’s wearing the classic Sonja outfit, but with a fur coat and red cape wrapped over her shoulders. Her sword is in her right hand, buried in the snow. The setting is terrific and some computerized falling snow has been inserted. This is another winning cosplay cover that I’m glad Dynamite does. A very different frontpiece is the E, the Subscription Variant by Anthony Marques, J. Bone, and Chris O’Halloran. This has a bust shot of Sonja running up to the reader with a blood covered short sword held in both hands. Behind her are flames and dark smoke. This is a very muscular Sonja around the neck, due to the perspective. I like the action shot and the coloring, though this isn’t working fully for me. However, given what this trio did with this image I would like to see what they can do with Sonja in a less active pose. F is the B/W Incentive featuring the art by McKone from the A cover. It’s fine, but her opponents are still terribly difficult to make out. G is the B/W Incentive featuring the art by Marques and Bone from the E cover. This is also okay, but has me wanting to see more from this pair. The final cover is the H, the “Virgin” Incentive, featuring Lotay’s art from the B cover. This is my favorite of the Incentives with Lotay’s art text free. Outstanding. Overall grades: A C+, B A, C A-, D A+, E C+, F C+, G C+, and H A

The story: Picking up after the climax of the previous sixteen issues, Sonja thinks upon these adventures before she battles Adin the Unkillable, a massive troll-like character. ‘Adin was cursed with the ability to wake every morning, perfectly healed, no matter what injury had befallen him the day before. They say even death could not hold him, once the sun rose.’ The sparring ends quickly and with a fun turn of events that leads to the She-Devil going west to find Belo the blacksmith to restore her blade. He sees the words written on her sword, which she admits to being unable to decipher. Belo tells her it is the Blade of Skath. The rest of this issue has the blacksmith telling her the tale of Skath and how he lost his sword. This is an interesting read from Amy Chu & Erik Burnham, for which Burnham wrote the script. It has some decent action in it, but not for the title character who is merely the audience to Belo’s tale. This tale is setting up a meeting for next issue between Sonja and another character. This is fine but has Sonja doing nothing really for this issue. I’ve enjoyed Chu and Burnham’s previous issues, so I’m confident that next issue will deliver, but this issue merely sets the stage for that forthcoming publication. An interesting read, but not a great Sonja issue. Overall grade: B-

The art: Daniel Hdr is the artist for this issue and he’s doing a fine job. The first three pages have Sonja in a forest that has a solid collection of foliage to make the scene believable. Three panels on the opening page quickly summarize the previous sixteen issues, with the final one showing the death of Kulan Gath great. Adin is a wonderfully designed character, looking fierce with some neat tattoos. The final panel on 3 looks terrific not only for all the elements in it but the decision to tilt it forty-five degrees — it makes for a very dramatic exit. The town she journeys to doesn’t look as detailed, with many of the structures suggestions rather than completed buildings. Belo is another well designed character; the perfect world weary old man whose job continues to keep him fit looking. The introduction of Skath has him fighting different monsters. Skath looks buff and heroic and the creatures he battles look cool, with the shark man especially outstanding. I was glad that the story allowed Skath to be shown away from battle, with the final panel on Page 9 perfect. I really like Sonja’s reaction at the bottom of 10 when she acknowledges hearing of an infamous battle. Starting on Page 12 the backgrounds give way to the characters and their actions. This took me out of this flashback tale both in the interior setting and the exterior. The characters look good, with the violence in the exterior very effective. The creature that’s revealed for Skath to battle is a little too simple, with not much detail in its skin. The visuals on this book are serviceable. Overall grade: B-

The colors: Natalia Marques is the book’s colorist and starts the issue off well with some good colors for the forest. The three flashback panels on the first page are done in muted colors to neatly date them. The first and last panel on the page are bright bookends. I like that Adin’s tattoos glow in yellow, giving a visual to his ability to heal. Sonja’s exposed skin really stands out well against the greens of the woods. After these pages the colors go very brown and tan. In fact, too brown and tan. Granted, these are colors one would associate with a smithy, but some variation, besides yellow and orange for fire, was needed. The flashbacks are also fairly dark in colors, with only the light blue sky in the closing telling of the tale mixing things up. The colors are believable, but needed some cheating to have elements of the art stand out. Overall grade: C+

The letters: The text for this book hails from Tom Napolitano who creates narration, yells, sounds, dialogue, and scene settings. I love when a character’s narration is differentiated from their text, with her thoughts being done in lower case letters — a rarity in comics! The yells are also differed in this issue, based upon how intense their utterances are. There are some really cool sounds from the book’s final creature. Overall grade: A

The final line: A decent enough issue that begins a new story. There’s no real action for Sonja as she listens to the saga of Skath. My opinion of the story could improve depending on where this goes. The art is okay, with some images being better than others. The colors are too realistic, being primarily brown and tan: cheating on reality is allowed in comics. I’ve loved the previous issues of this series, so I’ll return to see where this is ultimately heading. Overall grade: B-

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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.
    One Comment
  • Daniel HDR
    10 July 2018 at 4:04 am -

    Thahnk you for your support, Patrick! All the best!

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