Red Sonja #1 Review

Amanda Conner cover

Red Sonja #1 Review
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Mirko Colak
32 pages $3.99

Solicit: No man knows the place of her birth, nor where she learned to wield a sword to shame many a male. They know only that she is called The She-Devil of The Hyrkanian Steppes. That, and RED SONJA. MARK RUSSELL (The Flintstones) and MIRKO COLAK (Conan) bring a savage tale of metal and blood. A world conqueror possesses a massive army and a fatal prophecy. A bastard sorceress craves revenge. And a fearsome red-haired warrior is made wartime ruler of a homeland set for decimation.

Red Sonja has become a violent feminist icon in comics, thanks to Dynamite letting mostly female creators lift the character from her chesty cheesecake books of yesterday, and allowing some very talented female creative teams to inject some intelligence into her character. Much to the chagrin of Comicsgate trolls, the experiment has worked. Sonja titles saw an uptick in sales and the girls proved they could do anything the boys were doing with the character better.

In this new series, Dynamite hands the reigns back to a male team but Russell and Colak aren’t shying away from Sonja’s independence or intelligence. In fact, artist Mirko Colak gives readers a much more clothed She-Devil with a Sword than we’ve seen in quite a while.

Russell’s name has become synonymous with smart comedy after his work on DC’s Flintstones and Snagglepuss, both of which are must-reads, but you’ve heard us screaming about that enough. Here, Russell’s smart and snarky sense of humor makes its way into the script, but this Sonja story is far from a comedy.

While I love Conan the Barbarian stories, they can become painfully serious and completely dry, making them a bit of a slog. Russell injects just enough humor here so as not to interrupt the feeling of this fantasy, but keep us reading characters we can relate to.

Speaking of which, I’ve always liked the character of Red Sonja but I can’t say I could relate to her. Russell’s script sets Sonja up as a fish out of water thrust into royalty and dealing with the biggest male ego the realm has ever known.

Kolak’s art here is exceptional as he channels Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan and Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant. The guy just gets better with every book he puts out. Colak’s paneling paired with Dearbhla Kelly’s colors and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering give the book a Silver-Age-fantasy feel with modern technique.

This was an outstanding first issue with very little sword-play that’s setting up a classic, scrappy underdog versus well-armed overlord story, and though we know how it’s going to end, I couldn’t be more excited to read this new Red Sonja series.

Rating: BUY IT