Friday, August 1, 2014

Review - Red Sonja #0


"Sonja. Sonja. How could ye go to the gods and leaver yer defenseless husband behind? SONJAAA!"

Red Sonja needs no introduction. It's something that typically works in her favor as she travels the countryside, seeing as how she typically gets what she wants with little fuss. It's also something that would likely benefit those close to her, as they could capitalize on their relationship with her as a means of getting stuff themselves. It's likely Red Sonja wouldn't be too happy knowing there were people close to her doing that though, as in Red Sonja #0 from Dynamite Entertainment. The issue is written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Noah Salonga, colored by Elmer Santos and lettered by Simon Bowland.

It's pretty clear that everyone on the coastline is living in fear of Malak, a beastly marauder. He also claims to be the husband of the late Red Sonja, something which has made him a very wealthy man in some ways. The thing is, Red Sonja isn't quite dead and isn't quite aware of Malak living a lavish life in her name. When she returns from her latest adventure, she quickly discovers that the villagers are a little less hospitable towards her than she remembers.

If there were ever a case where Red Sonja played a role in a romantic comedy, Red Sonja #0 might be it. Simone's story is pretty jovial at times, despite maintaining many of the fierce characteristics that readers have come to expect from a Red Sonja tale. It's amusing to see both Malak and Red Sonja tell their versions of how the two first met, as they contrast sharply with one another. Malak is presented as something of a scam artist of sorts; somehow, he's actually clever enough to come up with a plan to get free stuff despite being fairly oafish in demeanor. Red Sonja's triumphant return is handled very well by Simone, who at this point definitely has a handle on the character and what makes her tick: ale and getting her way.

The art in the book looks very polished and presents the characters in a way that makes them very easy to distinguish. Malak is almost a bigger, male version of Red Sonja in appearance, making the thought that it's very slightly possible he could be telling the truth about their marriage. The characters feel sufficiently medieval in a way that's befitting of a Red Sonja book, demonstrating a look that synonymous with medieval countryside poverty. There are a few panels where Red Sonja looks truly terrifying and every bit the warrior that the legends make her out to be. Salonga deftly moves back and forth between the past and present in the book as well, showing the past as a little more cheerful considering it's mostly being recounted by Malak and his rather simpleminded approach to life.

Red Sonja #0 is a pretty solid book that takes a lighter look at Red Sonja's lifestyle. She doesn't need to be married in order to get wealth like so many other citizens in her universe, so the thought that someone would claim to be married to her for that reason is pretty clever. Simone's story is paced very well and offers a slightly more comedic Red Sonja, adding a touch of levity to a character who's usually covered in the blood of her opponents. Salong handles the art duties in a way that keeps that tone going through the illustrations, providing characters who at some points exhibit an almost anime-like level of facial expressions. Red Sonja #0 is a book that fans of the character will be interested in, but at the same time it does offer a fun story for newcomers to check out.

Red Sonja #0 is in stores now.

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