In Review: Red Sonja #2

I love Red Sonja, but, so far, not this Red Sonja.

The covers: The second issue of this series has three covers for fans of the She-Devil with a Sword to collect. The A cover is by Marguerite Sauvage. It shows Sonja inside a stone structure, complete with tapestries and statuary, being besieged by several dark violet hands, looking as if they are throwing similarly colored flowers at her. The look on her face shows a question, not irritation. I don’t know the context of this image, so I’m befuddled on how to take its imagery: I don’t know if it’s an actual event or symbolism. The B cover is the same as the A, but is the “black & white incentive” cover, with no colors in this image. It’s fine, but shows readers how colors on the A really bring the illustration to life. The C or “rare ‘virgin art’” cover is the same as the A, though it features no text whatsoever. This is a good way to see the art in its purest form and it looks the best. Overall grades: A B+, B B, and C A-

The story: “Three miles from the Hyrkanian border”, Sonja is fighting four members of the Black Talons who are trying to kill a family of four that is trying to get out of the land. Sonja makes quick work of the men, no surprise, and moves on, eventually coming upon the Theater of the Blue Goat. This is the primary setting of this tale by Marguerite Bennett. It’s at this location that a new character is revealed who is having difficulty with the play she has been asked to perform. This gives Bennett a good opportunity to provide some commentary on how losers are portrayed by the winners of a conflict. The play is performed much to this character’s disgust, but someone in the audience has her own opinions of the production. This was an okay story, but was difficult to follow given the layout of some pages by the artist. The conclusion is never in doubt, as this is a Sonja story, so there’s not much tension in the proceedings. The only surprise occurs when Sonja goes to the final location and encounters someone she’s familiar with who does something very unexpected. I like Red Sonja immensely, but there’s no tension in this storyline so far. Overall grade: C+

The art: Aneke is the artist of this issue and only Sonja is well drawn. The opening page has her looking fantastic as she engages with her foes; it’s a terrific action sequence and the emotion on her face is spot on. However, her enemies don’t look as good: look at the soldier’s foot in the first panel and the villains in the second and third panel – they’ don’t look right. The second and third pages show a format that will reappear in this issue: a double-paged spread with smaller panels inserted on top to show details in the larger scheme of things. Aneke is having difficulties filling the larger image. The action that occurs on this page is good, but would have looked better and probably been easier for a reader to follow had they been larger panels. Page 4 has a villager disappearing so that the scene may focus on Sonja’s kill – this should not have happened. The double-paged splash with smaller panels reappears on 8 and 9, but an element that tells the readers to follow the text all the way to the right, the orange haired girl, is lost in the gutter of the two pages, and, on top of that, all of Page 8 should be read first, then Page 9: this is confusing to follow. The key action scene of the issue is on 14 – 17 and this is also confusing to follow, such as who cut the rope on 14? This issue should be much better than it is. Overall grade: C-

The colors: This is a very strong element of this book, with Jorge Sutil doing an exceptional job, especially on the characters’ flesh. Look at Sonja throughout the opening fight; she looks amazing. Having this battle set upon some beautiful green grass against a violet sky is a very beautiful effect. Shading Sonja’s thought balloons are also an excellent way to set them apart from the dialogue. The light effect for the introduction of the theater is outstanding, with Sutil doing excellent brights and darks on page. And it’s impossible not to focus on the emerald eyes of the title character on the final page which explode from their panels. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, sounds, Sonja’s narration, and mutterings are created by Erica Schultz. Sound effects are the only nit in Shultz’s work, as they are only outlines on the first four pages, and as a result they are lost in the coloring. Solid sounds wouldn’t have covered much of the visuals and would have been stronger. Overall grade: B+

The final line: This relaunch is not going smoothly. The story lacks tension and the visuals are not strong. I love Red Sonja, but, so far, not this Red Sonja. This is quite a shocking issue, given Dynamite’s previous Sonja titles. Overall grade: C+


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
    21 March 2016 at 1:58 am -

    With you man.

    Dynamite, please please, change Aneke, his work make me get lost again and again.

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