In Review: The Legends of Red Sonja #2
The covers: Jay Anacleto created the Main cover with Sonja up close and personal. Though she wears her standard chain mail bikini, she’s also wearing a full cloak lined in fur, which she’s using to cover her head. In her hands is a fierce battle axe reflecting light. I’d give her some distance! The Subscription cover is by Frank Thorne with Sonja bearing shield and bloody sword, striking a pose to protect her right. The image is imposed over a snowstorm and it looks great! I’m absolutely loving that these covers by Thorne resemble the 1970′s Marvel comic books. Overall grades: Main A- and Subscription A+
The story: The framing sequence of the riders is written by Gail Simone and they’re good introductions to the tales. The first story is “The Undefeated” by Meljean Brook and it’s outstanding. The teller of the tale is Gordrak, a Khorajan who overstates his machismo and Sonja’s weaknesses as they seek a ruby within a beast’s chest. Page 3 has plenty of action and a few smug laughs. The relationship between the two grows as they make their way to the prize and the conclusion on Page 8 was just awesome. I would love to have Brook return to Sonja anytime. Though the bar was set high in the first tale, Tamora Pierce also contributes an excellent story with “Double-Edged.” This time the teller is a young tween relating the story of how Sonja was compelled to help her and her mother get to Duke Edecon, whom her goddess deemed she dance for. This wasn’t the constant action of the first story but instead showed the relationship between Sonja and those she’s taken in as charges. Sonja’s comments to the mother were fantastic because she’s rarely shown acting this way; it was a treat of see her like this. The stories in this issue, as a whole, were much better than the previous issue, so my hopes are high that this high level of writing will continue. Overall grade: A
The art: As with the stories, there are three different artists on this book. The framing sequence is done by Jack Jadson with the tavern looking good and the last page looking great. Stealing the book is Mel Rubi’s art on “The Undefeated.” Sonja is stunning on every page, with her looking amazing on Page 4, panel three and Page 8, panel one. This Sonja is an absolute heartbreaker! Gordrak also looks amazing, especially on Page 3. My favorite image was the top of Page 6: I dare you not to think of Frank Frazetta’s majesty in this gorgeous panel. The battle, though short, was magnificent. Cassandra James is the artist of “Double-Edged.” James is outstanding on characters’ faces and their actions, as clearly evidenced on Page 14, but Sonja, rightfully, steals the show with every panel she’s in. Her haggard look on 16 made me smile, her posture at the bottom of 17 made me giggle, and her final appearance on 21 made me laugh. She looks great on every page. I did not like the layout of Page 20, however. I was confused that the man kneeling in the second panel was the man killed in the third, and the transition between panels three and four, and four and five, with the fate of this character in the sixth panel unresolved because of the distance from the characters. Still, I was more than pleased with the art this issue than last issue. Overall grade: A-
The colors: The Salvatore Aiala Studios was responsible for all the colors in this issue. I liked that the first story’s colors were muted to show the reader that this was a tale from the past, with the present being down in vivid colors. I loved the darkness in the awakening of the unconscious character on 7 and the blood splatter on 8. The coloring in the tavern was nicely muted, too, which was a good contrast to the bright day that begins the second tale. I was happy with the coloring of this story until Page 19 when the battle begins and then the coloring for no apparent reason becomes muted. I cannot understand why this was chosen. Good coloring returns for the final two pages, but what happened during “Double-Edged”? Overall grade: A-
The letters: Also working the entire books was Simon Bowland. Tons of dialogue and narration, with one instance of scene setting, but no sounds whatsoever. The action occurs in flashback, so the absence of noise was understandable. Overall grade: A
The final line: Highly entertaining and enjoyable read of two untold Sonja tales that contribute to the She-Devil’s legend. Worth checking out. Overall grade: A
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 since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.