In Review: Red Sonja #2
The cover: The Main Cover by Jenny Frison has a gorgeous image of Sonja on a horse surrounded by banners and pikes. I love the coloring! Sonja looks lackadaisical about the whole affair. Maybe she’s stoned. The Variant Cover is a terrific image you’re happy to experience in comic form but not in real life. Sonja is a fighting frenzy, reaching for the reader with her left hand, while her right shows her sword in hand about the skewer! Good cover by Nicola Scott. I just wish the colors weren’t so faded! The Subscription Cover by Stephanie Buscema is cartoon cuteness as Sonja trudges through a swamp, a torch in one hand, her sword in the other. Emerging from the muck behind her are two swamp monsters. Overall grades: Main A-, Variant B, and Subscription A
The story: I was interested to see what Sonja’s battle with her fellow survivor of the slave pits, Annisia, would be like. Both women fight one another as their armies battle around them. Sonja does what any warrior does when attacked by a mounted combatant–kill the horse first. Annisia tumbles off and the two engage, sword versus axe. As they fight, Sonja ponders what brought her one time friend to be her foe. There is a two page flashback that hints at a secret, but nothing is revealed. This is a fairly typical battlefield brawl with the predictable give and take in dialogue where fighters question and condemn the other. I was waiting for writer Gail Simone to drop a surprise into this common tale and she delivers on Page 14. I can’t imagine anyone seeing this coming, and Sonja’s reaction mirrored my own. Now if this wasn’t enough of a “wow” moment, 17 will floor you and the first two words and the large image on Page 21 will give you something I’ve never read or seen before in a Sonja tale. The final page puts our heroine in a situation that matches the emotion on her face. The last seven pages are much better than the first thirteen and makes me eager to see what will happen to Sonja next month. Overall grade: B
The art: A nightmare for an artist has got to be when a writer hands them a story where two armies do battle, but the protagonist and antagonist must be easily seen fighting among the throngs. Artist Walter Geovani rises to the occasion and creates a well drawn issue. The first page establishes Sonja will be fighting Annisia, while behind her an army runs forward. Pages 2 and 3 is a great double-paged spread of Sonja taking out Annisia’s horse. The entire battle looks good, but the jailer in the flashback looks terrible. It’s like he belongs in a different book. IN fact, I’m not really thrilled with the monsters in Annisia’s army. Check out Page 11: they look like members of Davy Jones’ crew from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Now, Page 12, that’s a great montage of the battle–Outstanding! The great image is on 21, plus 22 is also really good. So, save a few odd monster, great art. Overall grade: B+
The colors: Adriano Lucas does some good coloring on this battle filled book. Page 1 shows Lucas has got some skills! A gorgeous clear blue sky, Sonja’s dazzling hair, Annisia’s big grey steed, and the thousands running to attack. Nice. The next two pages have an amazing yellow sky in a tight close-up of Sonja’s hair and revealed skin attacking the horse. I love Annisia’s white hair and war paint. Lucas is good at using solid colors for the background to charge up a scene. Overall grade: A
The letters: The usual excellent dialogue, scene setting and Sonja narration from Simon Bowland, but not one sound effect. You’d think there’d be some. Nope. Nada. This battle is sadly mute. Overall grade: B-
The final line: You have to go 14 pages to get somewhere, but once you do it’s good. Overall grade: B
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s now at a high school where he taught 9th grade last year and currently 10th. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.