There are a few reasons why I haven’t reviewed this series yet. One, the current volume of Red Sonja usually comes out on my comic heavy weeks, and there’s usually a lot of other stuff I’d like to review. Two, it took me a few issues to decide how I feel about this series. And three, I ended up finding the previous run kind of underwhelming after a good start, causing a bit more hesitation here. But we’re three issues into the current volume of Red Sonja – 4 if you include the 25 cent 0 issue that mostly acted as a preview. That’s enough to get a general idea of how I feel, so let’s do this.
Written by Amy Chu, the premise for this series is fairly simple. Red Sonja somehow transported to the modern world from the ancient fantasy world of Hyrkania. Sure, it’s not the most original concept – there were tons of movies in the 80’s and 90’s with the same idea, and a lot of them sucked. So far, this series is entertaining though. Red Sonja is a bit of a barbarian landing in New York City, and immediately has run-ins with the cops. Thankfully, one of them speaks Hyrkanian like his mother, and he’s been trying to help Sonja acclimatize to modern life. It often goes hilariously wrong.
This issue starts with a brief flashback to her last memory in Hyrkania, and how she failed to save people from a fire breathing monster. Her thoughts are interrupted by a fight outside, which Sonja refers to as “the sweet sound of battle”. Great line. Her cop friend is fending off agents working for a sorcerer who also ended up in the modern world. This soon turns into a brief motorcycle chase, which leads to my sole complaint about this series so far. More on that in the next paragraph. I won’t spoil how the rest of the comic goes, but it does end with Sonja meeting the sorcerer face to face. It’s nice that the comic isn’t wasting any time in getting the story moving.
Red Sonja is having a lot of trouble adapting to how civilization works. She doesn’t even try to comprehend what a speed limit is, nor does she grasp anything about modern fashion. She’s amazed at how baths can consistently bring out “magic warm water”. This is all perfectly fine and well handled. Yet not only is she learning English a bit too quickly, but she learns how to drive a motorcycle just by watching others, when her world doesn’t have any kind of motorized technology of any kind? That’s a bit far-fetched. I won’t complain too much when it’s entertaining either way, but I can’t ignore it either.
The art by Carlos Gomez is good for the most part. The flashback shows a very well detailed medieval style town, complete with a variety of people in a market, decorations above the streets and even birds singing in the background. The very next panel shows that same town in complete ruins in the aftermath of the monster attack. The fight scene I mentioned earlier shows a variety of thugs, some in green hospital gowns with bandages on their heads due to the injuries they sustained in their last fight with Red Sonja, and the others in suits. The cop is holding a garbage lid like a shield – nice touch. Although Red Sonja’s battle bikini rides so low on her breasts it’s ridiculous, none of her poses during the fight are exploitive, and during the motorcycle ride, the bike usually covers everything up. There’s a good variety of environments in the background, all of them well detailed, so I won’t mention anything in particular. Facial expressions, while exaggerated at times, do a good job at conveying emotions. There’s Red Sonja’s delighted grin while driving the bike that’s so much faster than her horses, her curious look when checking out different products in the bathroom, the look of fascination in this one Hyrukian history study when she meets Red Sonja, and the worried look the cop gives her when he tries to tell her not to kill any of the sorcerer’s guards at an annual dinner scene.
Back to some of the weird art though. The opening page, along with another quick moment, shows Red Sonja naked, usually with some creative way of covering up her specific naughty bits. I’m not necessarily complaining about the cheesecake moment. If you’re reading a comic about an armoured bikini wearing she-barbarian, you shouldn’t be complaining about the occasional cheesecake moment here and there. That said, only her thumb blocks her one nipple. This, along with a moment in the second issue and the fact that her battle bikini rides very low as mentioned before, makes me wonder if this iteration of Red Sonja has nipples at all. It’s a silly thing, sure, but it’s another minor complaint that kind of takes me out of the comic. Anyway, the colouring by Mohan is great.
Despite my hang-ups here with both the writing and the art, this is a fun comic and I don’t think it’s meant to be taken too seriously. It’s a bit of a cliché story, sure, but Chu makes good use of it and throws in a couple fun twists. This is definitely worth checking out for Red Sonja fans. If the story sounds entertaining to you, why not give it a chance?