Published on February 16th, 2015 | by Steven Roman
Review: Red Sonja #100
Red Sonja #100? you ask. How is that possible? The most recent issue of her current series is only up to #15! Well, it’s an accounting trick that’s become somewhat commonplace for publisher Dynamite Entertainment—after all, 2014 saw the release of Warlord of Mars #100, and this year we’ve already seen Vampirella #100, and neither of those series had yet to reach that magic number…unless you do as Dynamite has done, adding together all the series, miniseries, and one-shots they’ve published starring those characters. And now it’s Sonja’s turn.
“The Snare” by writer Eric Trautmann (Vampirella) and artist Dave Acosta (Chastity) kicks off the anthology. Sonja, pursued by slavers, rides into a wasteland and settles down for a night’s sleep. But it’s in her dreams that she’s attacked by an enormous spider queen and must battle for her life. This ten-pager moves quickly, and Acosta draws an appropriately hideous monster that may have you brushing imaginary arachnids off your arms.
“Tresses” by writer Roy Thomas and artist Pablo Marcos marks a return for Thomas to the character he helped fashion, back in his Marvel Comics days when he wrote the adventures of both Sonja and her barbarian counterpart, Conan. In this play on the fairy tale of Rapunzel, Sonja and a male warrior encounter a beautiful woman locked in a tower, with climbing her lengthy hair the only means of rescuing her. Unfortunately, comics legend Marcos’s art is a shade of what it used to be, but his storytelling skills are still much in evidence.
“Sticks and Stones” is by writer Michael Avon Oeming (best known as the artist and co-creator of the superhero procedural Powers) and artist Taki Soma (Oeming’s collaborator on Rapture). A prisoner of an evil king (are there any but evil ones that Sonja encounters?), Sonja must battle her way out of an arena, facing off against a warrior I’m pretty sure is meant to be a stand-in for Dave Sims’s Cerebus the Aardvark, even though this opponent doesn’t possess Cerebus’s habit of referring to himself in the third person. The cartoonish stylings of Soma, though, are a distraction, turning the story into the equivalent of a bad cartoon.
“The Torch” by current Red Sonja series writer Gail Simone (Batgirl, Secret Six) and artist Noah Salonga (Red Sonja: Sanctuary) could be considered a meeting between Sonja and Xena, Warrior Princess—here, a stand-in named Amena, whose adventurous tales inspired Sonja as a young girl. The torch alluded to is the passing of the warrior princess title from Amena to Sonja—a quirky circular approach, considering it was Sonja who inspired Xena’s creation. Salonga’s art is serviceable enough, but does little to really complement Simone’s story.
Closing out the special is “Three Wishes” by writer Luke Lieberman (Queen Sonja) and artist Sergio Fernandez Davila (Red Sonja: She-Devil With a Sword). What starts out as the conclusion of a fairly typical Sonja adventure—kicking the ass of a bothersome wizard—ends on a surprisingly quiet, introspective note, and a good way, both in story and art, to end the anthology.
Bottom line? A decent collection of Sonja stories, marred in some cases by lackluster artwork, makes this a hit-or-miss anthology. If you’re a devoted Sonja fan, you’ll probably want to pick it up, otherwise you’d probably be better served using the money toward your purchase of the recently published, expensive but superior Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja Art Edition, Volume 2, or the no-doubt-forthcoming collection of the miniseries Red Sonja: The Black Tower.
Red Sonja #100
Stories by Roy Thomas, Gail Simone, Eric Trautmann, Michael Avon Oeming, and Luke Lieberman
Art by Pablo Marcos, Dave Acosta, Taki Soma, Noah Salonga, and Sergio Fernandez Davila
Main cover art by Ed Benes
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
48 pages • full-color art
On sale February 18, 2015