Review: Red Sonja 1973
We get review copies from several companies in our e-mail every week, and in most cases, we don’t review them because of the comics review policy we have of using reviews to promote the best that comics have to offer unless a comic is being so heavily promoted that it’s in the interest of our readers for us to review them. This week, Dynamite sent us some review copies and I decided to take a loot at a Red Sonja special, Red Sonja 1973, which has several short stories featuring the She-Devil With A Sword as she was called back shortly after her 1973 debut.
Writers:Cullen Bunn, Eric Trautmann, Roy Thomas, Luke Lieberman, Gail Simone (w)
Artists: Ivan Rodriguez, Rich Buckler, Rod Rodolfo, Kewbar Baal, Bilquis Evely, Jonathan Lau, Ivan Nunes, Marcio Menyz, Arison Aguiar (a)
Cover: Ed Benes (c)
FC • 48 pages • $7.99 • Teen+
Since her fearless debut in 1973, the She-Devil with a Sword has redefined the fantasy genre thanks to the efforts of acclaimed writers including Gail Simone, Roy Thomas, Luke Lieberman, and Eric Trautmann! Joined by first-time Sonja writer Cullen Bunn and a handful of amazing artists, these titanic talents each contribute tales of derring-do to this supersized, action-packed anthology. Everyone’s favorite red-tressed heroine battles monsters, rivals, and ne’er-do-wells in Hyborian adventures retro-tinted to capture the flavor of her classic comics era!
Red Sonja is one of those characters that can be written poorly and easily drawn in a sexist manner. Fortunately, since being published at Dynamite, less of her stories fall in the former category, and this issue continues that tradition, I’m happy to say. Unfortunately, even at Dynamite, too many of her covers fall into the latter category and this comic is no exception. I look forward to seeing what the Escher Girls tumblr has to say about this one.
If you can get past the cover, you have a selection of stories about a warrior woman who is ruthless in dispatching those that would terrorize and prey on others. Of all of the stories in here, only the last one, completely silent fails to meet this theme. One of the two stand outs in this comic are “Arena of the Dead” by David Walker and Bilquis Evely, which serves to set up a longer story, and starts very unlike Red Sonja, but fortunately explains it. The second comes right before that with “The Hanging Tree” by Gail Simone and Kewbar Baal which shows two sides of Sonja, getting completely wasted between adventures and actually being cunning, which is a side that we see far too infrequently. For those that prefer seeing Sonja swinging her sword around and killing people and things, there’s plenty of that, too, but it’s not my preference for a Red Sonja story.
Covers like this one need to stop, though.