An altercation between a demonic sorcerer and our Scarlet Swordstress sends Sonja to the modern day, but is it good?
Red Sonja Vol. 4 #0 (Dynamite Entertainment)
When you boil it down, it doesn’t take a lot to make a good Red Sonja book. Throw some monsters at her, let her swing a sword, tastefully cover her naughty bits with chain mail that couldn’t stop a mosquito bite – it’s a time-tested formula that even worked with Brigitte Nielsen swinging the steel.
That’s precisely where we start in this preview issue for Dynamite’s upcoming series about the Hyrkanian she devil, as our heroine is slicing up some shapeless tentacled (always tentacled) demon. Before she can deliver the killing blow, however, Sonja is enchanted by the sorcerer Kulan Gath – waking later in a subway tunnel in what appears to be modern day New York.
First and foremost, the art of Carlos Gomez is a high point. Though the issue itself is relatively light on character moments, Gomez does a decent job with a limited stage. Sonja’s battle poses – which, sure, tend toward the pin-up style – call to mind the sort of paintings you’d see in an old Heavy Metal magazine, but with a pencil style that is more Joe Madureira than Frank Frazetta.
The more stoic moments are also well rendered, with Gomez successfully capturing the surprise of the character’s fish-out-of-water experience as well as one sequence revealing the she-devil’s affection for her sword. No, that’s not a double entendre.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t give readers a lot of opportunities to develop opinions on the writing of Amy Chu. The dialogue is sparse, but heavy with exposition, though it feels like more of a necessity of the function of the #0 issue than faulty plotting. Harder to defend, however, is the inordinate amount of time before the “big reveal” of Sonja’s time displacement. We spend literally twice as long with our heroine running through some sewer tunnels as we did in the battle that sent her into the future. I think most of us would rather see a more pitched battle with Kulan Gath than Sonja’s burgeoning friendship with a local sewer rat.
Still there’s enough promise in this brief issue to give the series a shot, as it’ll be interesting to see how this creative team handles it when they get to stretch their legs.