In Review: Red Sonja #9

Action and adventure cross time lines and state lines as Sonja seeks to stop a gang's drug dealings.

The covers: Eight covers for the ninth issue of this fantastic series. The A cover by Mike McKone has me hearing C.W. McCall’s famous song as I look at it. Sonja has gone trucking, as she’s driving a big rig, with most of her features lost in the shade of her cab. However, her iconic hair and interesting armband identify her, as does the door that states Big Red Trucking with a Celtic knot underneath. This looks great and gives a great tease of something in the book. CP Williams III is responsible for the B cover which is awesome. Sonja, in feathered cape, strides in among some powerful businessmen who are revealed to be monsters. Behind her is a red sky with a large full moon, a skull above it — complete with fangs — with an upside down skyline of the city at the very top. I love Sonja, the creatures, and the layout. Just so darned cool. Sonja meets the modern age as she hits the city streets and several people take out their cellphones to take her picture. She doesn’t look pleased, but I sure am by Jonboy Meyers on this C cover. Sonja looks fantastic and I’m impressed that Meyers had different types of phones taking her picture, rather than just one. The coloring is also good, with everything in blue, while Sonja gets the brighter hues. Cover D is the Cosplay Photo Variant featuring a tattooed model in some white mist against a rosy background staring at the reader. I have no idea who this person is, but she looks great. I continue to thank Dynamite for using cosplayers on their covers as there are so many incredible versions of Sonja out there thanks to dedicated fans. Looking relaxed at the reader, Sonja has her sword sheathed under her left arm. She appears uncaring on this E cover by Mel Rubi with colors by Omi Remalante, even though there are three creepy flame holders behind her. This looks great. Rubi continues to impress and Remalante does a great job creating the environment with the orange and red colors. There’s also a Virgin Cosplay Photo Variant that’s the same as the D, just sans text. If you like the D cover, you’ll love this. There’s a Black and White Variant of the A cover, which features the same art without any colors, save the logo on the truck door and the title of the book. This is really nice. There’s a Black and White version of the Rubi’s cover as well, lacking only Remalante’s contributions. This, too, is really cool. An Exclusive cover from Groupees features Sonja on the back of a monstrous ogre with a chain around its neck to throttle the creature while she raises a knife to stab it. Solid cover from Craig Cermak, with the antagonist being wonderfully grotesque. Overall grades: A A+, B A+, C+ A, D A, Virgin Cosplay Photo Variant A+, Black and White McKone Variant A, Black and White Rubi Variant A, and Groupees Exclusive A

The story: “Deep in the northern woods of Hyrkania…” an unwilling sacrifice has his throat slit so that his “blood will now serve a higher purpose. To strengthen the immortal master…To heal his wounds…” The priestess pours the blood into a large flaming colander and Kulan Gath is resurrected. His robed form emerges from the flames, only to look back into the fire and say, “Find me an army. I will destroy my enemies once and for all.” Amy Chu’s story then moves “Near the southern border of Hyrkania” where Max Mendoza and Lera and Taya are confronting a troll. The women are racing at the beast on horseback with swords drawn. Before they can engage the creature, Max tells them to wait and introduces himself and the women to the troll, asking it what its name is. “Zercat. My name is Zercat. No one’s asked my name before.” He then tells Zercat his history, allowing Chu to catch readers up with the previous eight issues of this series. His tale has a fun effect on Zercat that amazes Lera and Taya. Meanwhile, Sonja, Spike, and Holly are the latter’s father’s Lamborghini speeding through Taos Gorge in New Mexico. Sonja’s on a quest to stop the drug dealing of the Las Aranhas. When asked by Spike if she has a plan for doing so, Sonja responds, “I have one. Destroy the source of the drug. Kill everyone inside.” The women are unaware that they’re being chased by FBI agents, surprisingly one agent on his own and a pair who are unaware of the lone wolf agent. The ladies discover the manufacturing headquarters and Sonja does what Sonja does best. The action is great, the dialogue even better, with Sonja uttering lines that should be cliche, but Chu has them come out as gold, such as at the bottom of Page 14. The fate of one of the heroes is in doubt by the time the action ends, and a mysterious observer takes note of what transpires. In the past, Max, Lera, and Taya reach a surprising locale. I love the characters, I love the action, and I love the lines. I love Amy Chu’s writing on this book. Overall grade: A+

The art: Carlos Gomez is also making this book amazing. The first panel of the book would be a budget buster for Hollywood, with an elaborate setting with fire, cultists, masonry, and a waterfall. It’s gorgeous, were it not soon to be used for a killing. The violence inflicted on the innocent man in the second panel is graphic, with the slice across his neck sending a spray of blood that trails the path of the blade. Kulan Gath’s resurrection is great, with the wizened old man standing dramatically in the flames. The action of Lera and Taya galloping to Zercat is a great action panel that starts 3, with the Taya’s streaming headgear adding to the motion. The three panels used for the tale/flashback on 4 is incredibly detailed. This detail continues throughout the book, especially in the settings in Hyrkania. The introduction of the protagonists on 6 looks beautiful, with the characters clearly shown (always a bonus when reading a comic book) and the car and setting stunning. Sonja doesn’t use a gun when she battles Las Aranhas, but a crossbow, and she uses it to good effect. Her reveal to these thugs is dramatic, gorgeous, and heroic in a large panel on 12. The motion that Gomez creates in this melee is fantastic: check out the reaction from Sonja’s kick on one poor soul at the top of 13, as well as the effect of one man that’s hit with a chair. The full-paged splash on 16 is perfection, with figures flying, debris spraying, and a enormous cloud of destruction. The magic that swirls about the artifact an unseen watcher is using is also really well done, leaving me anxious to see more supernatural elements in this book. The last two pages of the book close out with a incredible looking location. It’s not a place I’d want to visit, but it is amazing. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Look at how the colors set the tone of the book in the first panel: bright flames, beautiful water, and sprigs of green to accentuate the wild. Mohan’s colors solidify this setting as not part of the real world. The background becomes a pale orange to intensify the killing of the sacrifice, whose blood stands out in a dark, horrific crimson. The swirl of wind that surrounds Kula Gath’s return is nicely conveyed with blues, grays, and dulled whites. Page 3’s panels from the past are aged well with rust colors, though Sonja stands out in her single panel with her normal colors. The women’s car is an envious shade of power blue. The interiors of the gang’s plant are given a sickly green to make their production of drugs sickening. The blues and whites at the bottom of 17 are beautiful, while the browns and grays that are on the final two pages increase the tone of the setting. Mohan is all aces on every page. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text for his book includes scene settings, a chant, yells, dialogue, diner signage, and Sonja’s narration. Tom Tapolitano does a great job right out of the gate with some very slick looking scene settings, which are in big, bold letters that are slightly slanted, inspiring the reader to quickly dive into the story. The sounds make reading the fight scene fun, with the largest to be found on the full-paged splash. Sonja’s narration is my favorite of the book because lower case letters are used when she thinks, making her narration seem as though it’s been written in a book, making the text more of a personal experience. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Action and adventure cross time lines and state lines as Sonja seeks to stop a gang’s drug dealings. The characters are fun, their dialogue fantastic, the action big, and the visuals outstanding. This is one of the best series available. Highest possible recommendation. 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
    20 November 2017 at 4:13 pm -

    Great review for what is probably the best issue in Chu and Gomez’ run so far IMO. #10 is loads of fun as well but Sonja puts away the weapons for that one, rolls up her sleeves and puts up her dukes. The results are glorious.

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