Review - Conan Red Sonja #1

"Two hunters stalking the same prey?"

Red Sonja and Conan the Barbarian need no introduction. The two of them have been the subject of countless adventures, trials and stories. Yet it's still fun to throw them in the mix together from time to time, which is what Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Entertainment are doing with Conan Red Sonja #1. The issue is written by Gail Simone and Jim Zub, illustrated by Dan Panosian, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft.

Conan and Red Sonja become comrades to take down a sorcerer-priest hell bent on creating a dark new age in Hyborian warfare. While Red Sonja relies on cunning to achieve her goal, Conan relies more on brute strength to achieve his. What the two of them don't know is that they're after the same thing and their paths will converge before moving in the same direction for a greater good.

Team-ups are always exciting and while this isn't the first time Red Sonja and Conan have crossed paths, both Simone and Zub do a fantastic job of ensuring it's going to be one of the more memorable ones. It's entirely conceivable that the two will cross paths, yet Conan Red Sonja #1 offers one such scenario in a way that's both natural and emphasizes the two characters. Red Sonja is as quick with wit as she is with a sword, something she uses to her advantage to subtly infiltrate a palace; Conan on the other hand uses his uncanny combat prowess to reach the same goal. The possibility of their partnership is extremely intriguing, with Simone and Zub not necessarily revealing all the plot points off the bat. Instead, they've crafted a story that promises to unfold at a proper pace, all the while paying attention to the storied legacies of the two characters involved.

Since the two characters are so recognizable, it takes a lot to make them look a little less familiar. Fortunately, Panosian is up to the task, as he manages to breath new life in the looks of Red Sonja and Conan. His style boasts sharp, jagged angles and an abundance of shading, all of which properly contrasts not only Red Sonja to Conan, but the duo to everyone around them. Panels range in size and arrangement; some of them fill the gutters to great effect, while others detail action across multiples. Stewart's colors wash the book in a feeling of antiquity, further setting the tone for the Barachan Isles off the coast of Zingara. Where his colors especially pop is with Red Sonja's fiery red hair, which readily stands out amidst those around her.

Conan Red Sonja #1 is everything you could want from a crossover including Red Sonja and Conan. In fact, it oozes all the fantasy charm that the two properties are best known for, as well as blending two characters who at times seem to be so disparately different. Simone and Zub bring their best to the work and the way they deftly weave together the talents of the main characters is effortless and makes for a fascinating read. Both Red Sonja and Conan are larger than life in many ways and Panosian uses subtle techniques to embellish their renown through appearance. Conan Red Sonja #1 is well worth picking up and shows a feverish ambition to work towards something epic and grandiose and scale, befitting the travels of both Red Sonja and Conan the Barbarian.

Conan Red Sonja #1 is in stores January 14 with interiors below.