In Review: Red Sonja #6

I cannot get enough of this Red Sonja. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: An awesome eight to bring into your fold if you’re a fan of the crimson haired Hyrkanian. Mike McKone starts off the collection with an A cover that looks like a movie poster. Sonja is front and center, wielding her sword; to her right is Max, with pistol out; to her left is Holly, museum employee. Behind the trio is a bust shot of Kulan Gath whose hands are raised in fury to accompany his scream. Behind the evil wizard is the Wonder Wheel that featured prominently at the end of last issue. Good illustration with the coloring very cool, with the wizard and the wheel being in shades of eerie orange. The B is by Ben Caldwell and it’s giving the Bombshell covers for DC Comics a run for their money. Riding a motorcycle and wearing an old fashioned helmet with goggles, Sonja is flying into the dragon’s faces= as it’s about to let loose with some flaming death. She’s got a spear in right hand that’s in the monster’s maw. This is gorgeous! The illustration is flawless and the colors superior. Just Wow! The C will look a little familiar as it’s illustrated by interior artist Carlos Gomez, with colors by Teodoro Gonzalez. Sonja is standing atop a building and police car that have become debris as a tentacled creature has taken the streets. A father is in the foreground carrying his children to safety. Strong image with excellent coloring. The Cosplay Photo Variant cover is the D for this issue and it looks great. I don’t know who the model is, but she looks terrific wearing a fur hood and red cape that billows in the wind of this snowy forest. Outstanding! The Subscription Variant (E cover) is by Mel Rubi, with colors by Mohan. A slightly comedic tone emerges from this cover as three pirates have been buried up to their necks in the sand. Several snakes wind about them as they fret. Squatting near them is Sonja, who has a chest of treasure behind her and a gold pitcher. She’s sporting a slight smile at the fright before her. Very cool change of pace for Rubi, with the coloring by Mohan spectacular. As a note, the final three covers have me guessing their letter designation. I read an electronic preview of this issue, which did not include all the variants. I’m going off the order that Dynamite has posted on their website. The F is a Black and White version of the A cover which is even better than the colored version. This is followed by the G, a Black and White version of the E cover. The pencils on this are good, and one can really see how much Mohan contributed to the E cover. The final variant is the H. This is a Cosplay Photo Virgin Variant that features no text. Definitely worth picking up. Overall grades: A A-, B A+, C B+, D A+, Subscription Variant (E) A, F A, G B+, and H A+

The story: Just when you think Amy Chu is wrapping this story up, she pulls the rug out from under the reader in several wonderfully shocking scenes. The book opens with Sonja remembering the end of a past battle, narrating how one aspect of her wars haunt her. This then moves to the present, where Kulan Gath’s dragon has arrived. High from within a passenger car, Sonja witnesses Max’s partner save a bystander. ‘I like these women a LOT,’ she muses. ‘They have no fear.’ She’s in the car to protect Max who is trying to use his newly found ability to cast the creature and Gath back to the past. Unfortunately, the beast sees them and rips their car from the wheel. Sonja has a solution to their problem that rings complete true to the fighter’s character. As if the dragon doesn’t make this story epic enough, Chu has something occur on Page 11 that would be a budget buster in a film. Naturally, Kulan Gath does what he can to destroy the heroes and his dialogue is the best of the book, with a terrific mix of ancient and new proclamations, such as at the bottom of 12, which is funny. The first surprise of the issue is one character’s decision on 13, which is followed by a dramatic, though expected turn on 15. Chu knows that readers expect this action, so she ups the surprise on 16. 17 is my favorite page of the story, which is something I’ve never seen in a Red Sonja comic, but is completely in line with what that character should be capable of. The shock at the top of this page is topped by the action at the bottom of the page. I was left dumbstruck. This isn’t what’s supposed to happen in a Red Sonja tale, but Chu does it and I’m applauding her decision to do so. A terrific ending with a cliffhanger of more to come. This issue may have started with a ferris wheel, but it became a roller coaster of a ride. Outstanding! Overall grade: A+

The art: Marcio Fiorito and Carlos Gomez do an awesome job on this issue’s visuals. Page 1 shows the Grand Bazaar in ruins after Gath and his dragon destroyed it. Notice how the clouds that float above the destruction are in the shapes of both antagonists. Sonja’s journey through the destruction has her primarily in silhouette, giving her the impression of an outsider and one who has been tainted by the violence. Ending the page with a child looking upon her is like a hammer to the reader, showing the impact of war. A turn of the page has the reader come upon a full-page splash, titled diagonally, showing the dragon arriving at the pier. It establishes the creature for the reader and its size against all the familiar settings. Titling the point of view is also an excellent way to show the reader that this monster’s arrival has upended the natural world. I practically cheered for Page 5 as the actions of the beast were like a tribute to Ray Harryhausen. The details on the setting are amazing, and they continue throughout the battle. When the creature unleashes its wrath on 8 it is staggering, as is the character that unleashes on 10. A full-page splash is also done for Page 11, revealing a new location. The joy on Gath’s face on 12 is deliriously insane. I expect a Sonja adventure to be violent, but I was unprepared for 16, though it did please me. I was also unprepared for the top of 17, which seemed like something out of a Sam Raimi horror film, but, again, it pleased me immensely. The final full-page splash is on 18, which packs a lot of emotion, even though the character is rightfully distant from the reader. Fiorito and Gomez are making gold with this issue. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The colors by Mohan really help the reader as they go through this issue. The first page, being a flashback, uses a lot of browns and tans to age this tale. The second page is an explosion of colors in comparison, with the red Wonder Wheel and the dragon standing out. Notice also how the scene setting stands out because of the coloring. The narration of this tale is also set apart by the colors, as are the many sounds that scream out of this tale. The explosion of energies that start on 8 and go through 10 look wholly supernatural because of Mohan’s work. However, it’s on 11 where a light blue is used to telegraph an environment to the reader and remains constantly in the background as a solution to the heroes’ woes. The violet used for Kulan Gath’s amulet is perfect, making it alien (as it’s the only time this color is used) and royal. And check out the colors 18, which are used to show the end of magic, spotlight the title character, and create a fantastic mist at the bottom of the image. Everything done by Mohan is top notch. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Tom Napolitano uses a wide variety of fonts on this issue to make even the text look visually pleasing. He has created scene settings, narration, yells, dialogue, sounds, screams, Kulan Gath’s unique speech, and a whimper. A sign of a superior letterer is when narration looks different from dialogue, and Napolitano accomplishes that here. He also uses a unique font for Gath’s dialogue, separating the villain from normal humans. The sounds on this are epic, be they gunshots or dragon wails. Perfection. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A surprise ending and superior visuals earn this my highest recommendation of the week. You’ve never read a Sonja tale like this! Chu has crafted a saga for the ages. I cannot get enough of this Red 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.
    One Comment
  • Nick
    23 June 2017 at 12:26 pm -

    Couldn’t agree more. Fantastic issue … #2 was more fun IMO but this was probably the most effective all round issue in the series, surpassing #4.

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