Red Sonja is all kinds of badass, and in this critic’s humble opinion she outdoes Conan in a lot of ways. From her ability to not care what people think of her (while Conan is all kinds of arrogant) to her desire to protect those who are weaker, she’s a real hero but just as ruthless and barbaric in battle when need be. With a new story starting this month, is it good?
Red Sonja: The Black Tower #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Coming from a guy who loved all the fantastical and mythical elements from Kurt Busiek’s run on Conan the Barbarian, this issue sets up to be one fantasy-laden tale. I’ve read my fair share of Red Sonja books, and I’ve always loved the character, but it was always most interesting when she tapped into the fantasy element. Like the time she was turned into a werewolf, or the time she got pregnant from a tree spirit. Those are the stories that transcend the mold of a barbarian woman looking for trouble and nothing more.
This issue opens with Sonja entering a town unknown to her, with a thorough explanation of where she’s coming from. I’m sure hardcore fans will appreciate this so they know where the story fits in her timeline. What she comes upon is a bunch of marauder types hurting the regular folk and moving to rape a woman. Of course Sonja jumps in to kick some tail and she does so, in excellent fashion.
Probably the only weakness I could find in the issue is any backstory on Sonja herself. If you have no idea who she was or what her deal was you’d probably be a bit lost and a not very interested. You get a good taste of her attitude in the issue, but without knowing anything you’d probably think she was just some wandering lunatic.
What kicks off their attacking is, you guessed it, the Black Tower that’s sprouted up from nowhere. This thing is tall, black and looks to be made of shadows. Sonja doesn’t like this one bit, but for the most part writer Frank Tieri keeps the focus of this issue on the tease of the tower and the action sequence between Sonja and the marauders. There’s plenty of attitude from Sonja in this book and Tieri nails her inflections and badass nature.
This is in large part thanks to the exceptional art from Cezar Razek. Razek draws with great detail and I’d say it’s not overly sexual either. Given Sonja’s costume it’s hard not to see this as sexualized, but never was she bending over or doing something unnatural, so mad props there. I also love the wispy nature he’s done on the Black Tower as it looks not only mystical in nature but darkly evil. Nice work all around!
Is It Good?
This is a great first issue if you know the basics of Sonja’s character. It’s got a ton of action, great beginnings of a mystical story in the works and some exceptional character work. Bring on issue #2!
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