Red Sonja #13 – Review

I wasn’t going to read this comic, much less review it. Red Sonja is an anachronism in this age of feminist portrayals in comics. Red Sonja is an iconic, strong female protagonist, defined almost primarily by a chain mail bikini. At various times, her portrayal has sometimes defied that stereotype, and at others, has been defined by it. This dichotomy often leaves me unsatisfied by Red Sonja, so I wasn’t looking at giving this issue much thought.

I saw Ben Caldwell’s cover and was intrigued. Let’s talk about that while I review this issue.

Red Sonja Vol. 4 #13

Sonja by Ben Caldwell SaberCreative as Sonja

writer: Amy Chu, Erik Burnham
artist: Carlos Gomez
cover artist: Ben Caldwell
variant covers: Brent Schnoover, Moritat, Cosplay Photo Variant, Fernando Ruiz, Ben Caldwell

FC | 32 pages | $3.99 | Mature

Red Sonja and her time traveling companion Professor Wallace take a wrong turn on their way back to the Hyborian Age, and now they find themselves in…Hell. Can the She-Devil fight her way back out? Or is this where they finally belong?


Let’s get one thing out of the way first. If a publisher is going to have a cosplay variant cover, then they need to credit the cosplayer. UPDATE: The Cosplayer is SaberCreative, also known as Blondiee.

My hesitance for Red Sonja is often how she is rendered. The wrong way to do it is to rendering her as cheesecake. I think Ben Caldwell’s cover did the character justice in a way that didn’t overly objectify her, without getting rid of the chain mail bikini. The other cover artists did an admiral job, but they didn’t quite nail the eye-catching cover image like Ben Caldwell did. His cover features Sonja dressed in her Hyborian garb, but sporting modern sunglasses and wielding a rocket launcher instead of a sword.

I have stated that my reticence to read and review Red Sonja comics is in the way artists have a tendency to objectify her featuring her boobs and butt, to be blunt. Cautiously optimistic, I opened to the title page and saw my optimism crushed. The reader is greeted by Sonja’s butt crack as her chain mail loincloth flies up, possibly in defiance of physics. This is why I’m covering the art first instead of the story.

Carlos Gomez is a very good artist. In this issue alone, he convincingly makes Sonja the most imposing figure in every scene, which is a challenge with hundreds of undead surrounding her. He renders her consistently, which I can always respect an artist’s talent when it’s on display like that. I have issue with how much flesh is on display with Sonja. It’s not all that more revealing than Frank Thorne’s original design, but Gomez seems to make Sonja much more zaftig, without increasing the size of her top proportionally. It just seems excessive and geared more to the less discriminating readers of this title. Browsing at Gomez’s body of work, this is his wheelhouse, but I still find it sitting wrong in most of the pages.

The story is a simple escape, but has several false starts, which get to be grueling after it hits one too many. Sonja does project leadership and command of the situation of escaping from the various undead hordes. The story does have one major flaw. Despite a title page, there is no recap given as to how Sonja got into hell. It’s almost assumed that we’ve been reading the comic all along. I found myself lost as to why the characters are here. Since no explanation was given, I found myself not caring if I got one. Sonja’s characterization is good and consistent with what we know of her, but the story is lacking in its execution.

Preview Pages:

Final Rating: 6.0 (out of 10) This comic is slightly above average, but losing points for way too much Red Sonja skin on display.