What do you get when you cross Conan the Barbarian with Wonder Woman, but add the temperament of a rattle snake and an unquenchable thirst for ale? You have the She-Devil of Hyrkanian, AKA Red Sonja of course! If you’re like me, the first exposure you ever had to Red Sonja was the 1985 film starring Brigitte Nielsen that didn’t leave much of an impression.
If you haven’t even had that, I’ll briefly fill you in: There are a few different versions of Red Sonja’s origin but they all pretty much boil down to this: When Sonja was a little girl she witnessed the senseless slaughter of her entire village and vowed revenge against those who committed this heinous act. She wandered the countryside sword in hand, helping those in similar situations. All the while becoming stronger and honing her skills in battle.
I am thoroughly enjoying the current ongoing series from Dark Horse titled Conan The Slayer written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Sergio Dávila, so I was really looking forward to this new series by Dynamite Entertainment. This new volume of Red Sonja is written by Amy Chu (Wonder Woman ’77) and drawn by Carlos Gomez (Dresden Files).
Without giving too much away, the story starts off with Sonja fighting a monster in the Hyborian Age (a time set after the destruction of Atlantis and before any known civilizations) that’s threatening a village she was paid to protect. She then discovers an old nemesis of hers is actually behind the attack. The next thing she knows, she’s waking up with a hangover level headache deep in the subway tunnels of modern day New York City. As she struggles to survive in this new time and place without her weapons, Sonja starts to realize not everything is as different as it seems.
I really enjoyed Amy Chu’s writing. This is my first time reading any of her books. The story is set at a good pace and she tells Sonja’s “fish out of water” perspective quite concisely, without being too wordy or pretentious.
Carlos Gomez’s work here is beautiful. There’s a full page panel that depicts Sonja standing in the middle of Central Park in the winter that’s absolutely majestic. The colors are lush and pop at just the right moments. The layouts are clean and never get convoluted or distract from the story.
This chapter in the Red Sonja saga is part Hercules in New York, part Splash and a slice of Cloverfield. It’s a fun and charming read, never predictable and keeps you gripping the pages. The supporting characters are surprisingly well conceived and add life to the story instead of just getting in the way. The book never gets too intense, for the most part it’s kept on the light hearted side. In fact, that’s my only complaint about this tale. I was really looking forward to some epic Hyborian era action in here. However, when the dust from the battle finally settled I was overall quite taken by Amy Chu’s fresh perspective and new direction for the character.
4 out of 5 Couch Cushions