REVIEW: ‘Red Sonja,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Red Sonja

Red Sonja #1 is published by Dynamite Entertainment, written by Mark Russel (The Flintstones) with illustrations by Mirko Colak (Conan), colors by Dearbhla Kelly, and letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The issue marks the start of a new volume, complete with a brand-new creative team, for the famous red-headed warrior.

Red Sonja #1 follows the fierce warrior after the death of her father figure, Sonja finds herself drawn back by the stars to the land of Hyrkania, her birth land. Now she is set to face the leader of the Zamoran Empire, and his great army, who has his sights set on conquering her home. Crowned queen by the elders, Red Sonja must face her past and lead a reluctant tribe into battle despite the rising odds.

Red Sonja is a powerful character who has been gracing comic pages since 1973 and is partially based on Robert E. Howard’s characters Red Sonya of Rogatino and Dark Agnes de Chastillon. Prior to her 2005 debut at Dynamite Comics, Sonja was found on the pages of Marvels comics where she was a contemporary of Conan the Barbarian and shared a lot of his tragic and violent backstory. She has become a feminist icon and her signature chainmail bikini defines her as a woman who is both strong, brutal, and in tune with her sexuality. Dynamite carries on its tradition of updating these strong female characters for a new audience.

This new creative team gives an interesting spin on “the chosen one” narrative with Sonja being crowned queen of Hyrkania because the elders have reluctant to fight their own impending battles, instead of slapping her with a glorified title and all the responsibility. Even after realizing this, Sonja takes the impending doom of her home with stride promising a hell of a fight from her tiny underdog land. Sonja doesn’t know her home as much as they seem to know her. It gives her past an air of mystery and the murky nature of who she compliments the overall themes of revenge and redemption within the book.

Additionally, this book packed a lot more of an emotional punch than I was expecting. Russell’s writing portrayed a lost and saddened by trauma Sonja who despite her trials continues forward to honor those she lost. Sonja’s outlook is shaped by her now-deceased mentor. His calming nature and wisdom differ greatly from her otherwise brute and strong-willed approach. Sonja reconsiders how she fights and how troops should fight thanks to his teaching. All of that knowledge becomes incredibly useful when she finds herself thrust into an impossible war with the Zamoran Empire.

Colak’s art on the issue is solid and Kelly’s coloring is immaculate. Even in the background, Sonja’s fiery locks stand ablaze to the rest of the panel. My one gripe with this issue is Sonja does not wear her signature chainmail bikini. While I have no doubt it will be on display soon, it was disappointing to see it missing from the classic character.

Sonja without her bikini is like Batman without a cowl. It isn’t impossible but it just feels off. Otherwise, Red Sonja #1 is a great introduction to the character and offers an easy entry point for new readers jump into while older readers can still enjoy this new story that pays homage to Sonja’s past.

Red Sonja #1 is available now in comic book stores everywhere

Red Sonja #1
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TL;DR

Sonja without her bikini is like Batman without a cowl. It isn’t impossible but it just feels off. Otherwise, Red Sonja #1 is a great introduction to the character and offers an easy entry point for new readers jump into while older readers can still enjoy this new story that pays homage to Sonja’s past.