Review - Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1 (@DynamiteComics)

"Once upon a time there was a warrior..."

Red Sonja has no shortage of opponents to square off against and typically she's triumphant. When the odds are stacked against her, however, as they are in Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1 from Dynamite Comics, things could get tricky. The issue is written by Erik Burnham, illustrated by Jonathan Lau, colored by Celeste Woods and lettered by Carlos S. Mangual.

The past meets the present with the future of literally everything at stake! The warrior Red Sonja has a plan to keep freshly killed wizard Kulan Gath from resurrecting himself again - but when the plan backfires, it allows a whole new kind of Chaos! to infest the Hyborean Age! Will these new beings be any easier to deal with than Kulan Gath, or has Sonja called a worse evil to her world? It's the first chapter of a brand-new quest for the She-Devil - and it may be her hardest yet as for the first time ever, Red Sonja meets the badass characters of Chaos!

Unlike many other Red Sonja stories, Burnham gives readers a Red Sonja determined to prevent an opponent from rising again with a longer-term strategy beyond just the typical beheadings. The irony is that despite her best efforts, there are still bad actors who will stop at nothing to still make life for Red Sonja a living hell which is where the Chaos players come into play. Burnham's script is pretty much a whirlwind tour through all of the Chaos! main characters, each of whom are coming at the crossover with a different motivation. Burnham successfully weaves the disparate personalities together well in an attempt to give the crossover a broader sense of cohesion as the characters' dialogue exchanges are very much on-brand for each of them. There's plenty of challenges ahead for Red Sonja as she struggles to contain the impending madness, yet Burnham still manages to give the story higher stakes.

Lau is tasked with blending together a variety of different character visual styles and does an admirable job. Each of the characters are very distinct in their appearance and mannerisms and Lau's successful in focusing on the frenetic action. Lau does plenty of inset and overlay panels throughout the issue to keep the reader slightly off-balanced, embracing the madness that ensues when multiple characters with individual motivations converge on the same target. There's not much detail in terms of the backgrounds, although that does allow Lau to focus more on the action (and interaction) at the forefront of each panel. Woods' colors are largely darker and fit well with the aesthetic of darkness.

Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1 is a lot of fun. There's a lot of ground to cover in the first issue and Red Sonja is poised for one of the more challenging fights of her storied combat career. Burnham knows what makes each of the characters tick, imbuing the issue with a sufficient level of chaos fitting of the publisher's namesake. Lau's illustrations are very clean and refined considering the madness. Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1 is a very accessible book that doesn't require a previous knowledge of any of the characters and really seems like it's going to be an enjoyable read.

Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1 is available now.