Dynamite keeps pumping out Red Sonja one-shots and I can’t stop eating them up! But hell, a one-shot can still be hit or miss (just look at how crappy most annuals are). Is it good?
Red Sonja Sanctuary (One Shot) (Dynamite Entertainment)
This issue spends all its time focused on Sonja joining what basically amounts to a convent. She makes her way to a haven for women who’ve been abused and hurt by men. She’s smoothly introduced to their ways and it’s then than she ponders giving up the way of killing and joining them in their purportedly peaceful, enlightened ways.
It’s obvious writer Marc Mason is going for a story that makes Sonja question her role as killer and assassin, but it falls incredibly flat. That’s because it spends so much time setting up the convent and a hell of a lot of time spent on characters yakking about how great it is living in peace beyond their safe walls. Once you reach the midpoint of the issue it grows rather boring hearing how great it is to not kill.
There is an interesting sequence where Sonja plants a tree and we visually see the tree grow — which hammers home the idea of peace and growth for Sonja that she’s never known. The problem is we’re all here to see Sonja kick ass, not go through a spiritual journey, and if it’s going to be a spiritual journey at least make it interesting enough to show some action.
When the story does take a turn and things crumble (which was obviously going to happen), it’s rather by the numbers stuff. Sonja must accept failing not only the people she called sisters, but her new life, and attempt to make a sacrifice. There’s some jargon in here about family and Sonja contemplating slowing down to build one, but it’s lost on this story. The problem is this thread about family is introduced, then goes away as the story focuses on peace and solitude, then comes back. There isn’t much family going on, as Sonja only really connects with one woman. A sense of the community is missing which hurts the message.
The art by Noah Salonga works when there is action, albeit there isn’t a ton of action in this book. His pencils remind me of Walt Simonson as they have a sketchy look that’s a bit raw but filled with energy. The problem is, this sort of look doesn’t do well in such stagnant, actionless pages.
Almost all the action in this book is contained in that knock! An exaggeration but still…
Is It Good?
This issue is a disappointment as there are some major themes that are interesting when it comes to the roving loner that is Red Sonja. The themes are there and that’s commendable, and the art works for the most part too — the comic doesn’t succeed overall though.