Review - Killing Red Sonja #1 (@DynamiteComics)

"You won't be scared of Sonja the Red when we find her, will you, Josef?"

A lot goes into running a kingdom, the least of which should be a plot of revenge. In Killing Red Sonja #1 from Dynamite Comics, revenge is what compels the main character to do what he does. The issue is written by Mark Russell and Bryce Ingman, illustrated by Craig Rousseau, colored by Dearbhla Kelly and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

In order to become queen, Sonja The Red had to defeat an evil emperor. But that emperor had a son. And that son will do ANYTHING to exact his revenge...even if it means embracing horrible magics he does not understand.

There's a very deliberate pacing to the script by Russell and Ingman which allows the story some time to breathe. Cyril is a newfound emperor thrust into the role, yet already with a singular focus on avenging his father's death at the hands of the aforementioned Red Sonja and providing the basis for the plot. The writing duo use the spectre of Red Sonja as a pervasive, terrifying undertone of sorts throughout the issue, effectively building up the tension without including her at all to be honest. It's inevitable that Red Sonja will be underestimated by Cyril to some extent, although Russell and Ingman provide varying points of view from the other characters through different degrees of dialogue. These points of view are great at giving Cyril different approaches in how to deal with Red Sonja when they encounter one another while at the same time providing more characterization for Red Sonja herself.

Rousseau's art style is an interesting choice for the book considering it's something of a modern take on a "historic" character. The roughness of the linework adds some of the older sensibilities to the book as Rousseau defines the characters with thick, bold lines. There's also some blockiness to the art approach that gives all the characters an additional weight, underscoring the pageantry affiliated with their medieval garb. The majority of the issue contains the linework from running too roughshod with cleaner panels and creating a very nice flow. Kelly's colors are relatively lighter throughout the issue and reinforcing the sense of old.

Killing Red Sonja #1 is about as ambitious a title for a Red Sonja book can be and it remains to be seen whether or not the characters will live up to the title. Cyril is the main character in the issue as he seeks out Red Sonja. Russell and Ingman offer a script that's well-plotted and engaging, building up tension towards a larger battle. Rousseau's artwork is a surprisingly good fit for the book considering it looks a bit more of a modern approach than one would expect for the property. Killing Red Sonja #1 is a relatively new take on the character that will likely continue to attempt to plumb new depths with a very familiar franchise.

Killing Red Sonja #1 is available now.