Monday, February 10, 2014

Review - Red Sonja Berserker One-Shot

"Only my sword is for hire--nothing else."

Red Sonja has earned a reputation as an impressive fighter who refuses to sit idly by while those around her who can't defend themselves are picked on. In that regard, she's something of a superhero. Like many superheroes, there are many stories written about her, which includes Red Sonja Berserker One-Shot from Dynamite Entertainment. The issue is written by Nancy A. Collins, illustrated by Fritz Casas, colored by Mark Roberts and lettered by Rob Steen.

Another day, another adventure for Red Sonja. What starts out in the foothills of the Eiglophian (mountains of Asgard) moves through the Thirsty Dog and makes a stop in Dinander. Along the way, Red Sonja encounters a mammoth bear, drunken idiots, a ruler with the power gone to his head and a man running a gladiatorial combat ring. All that makes for yet another legend in Red Sonja's history, punctuated by her triumphant return to pay back and old debt.

At this point, Red Sonja is so storied and well-known that it's hard to tread new ground with her. Collins does a great job tapping into that mystique, offering a Red Sonja who's as feisty and fierce as ever. The problem is that it feels like every Red Sonja story is the same thing: Red Sonja is traveling, she's accosted by men, references are made to her being a weaker sex and she kills people and proves them wrong. It's not a knock against Collins at all; rather, just that it's difficult to make Red Sonja feel fresh at this point. Still though, Collins does weave a rather unique spin into this tale, offering up a new comrade for Red Sonja to share trials and tribulations with.

The illustrations by Casas are strong and effective. Red Sonja maintains all of her warrior persona despite the conditions and Casas handles the other characters well. Many of the warriors going up against Red Sonja are sufficiently threatening in appearance, ensuring that the obstacles thrown in Red Sonja's way effectively covey her ability to take them on. Casas does an especially good job with the mammoth bear in the story, who's a warrior in his own right and equally as capable as any of the other warriors in the story. The panels eschew the traditional layout, offering an almost staggering array of various insets, including a few full-page shots that are well illustrated.

Red Sonja Berserker One-Shot is a story that pits Red Sonja against another ruthless leader risking the lives of innocents. It's no surprise to say that she emerges victorious, considering she's one of the most powerful fighters in her world. Collins gives her a story that's equally as adept at giving fans the Red Sonja they expect as it is at offering an adventure for readers. Casas' art is also well done and matches the writing in a way that really helps the pacing of the tale. Fans of Red Sonja will definitely want to check out Red Sonja Berserker One-Shot and fans who've never read a Red Sonja story can find out what the fuss is all about.

Red Sonja Berserker One-Shot is in stores February 12.


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