REVIEW: ‘Red Sonja: Lord of Fools’ One-Shot

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Red Sonja: Lord of Fools is a one-shot published by Dynamite comics from the creative team of writer Mark Russel, artists Bob Q and Katie O’Meara, colorist Dearbhla Kelly, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. The issue opens with Emperor Dragan searching for a weapon while speaking to his wife Phatmos.

The purpose of this search is that Dragan is going to war. When asked about the purpose of his planned campaign, he tells his wife of a prophecy. In a flashback Dragan shows how he conquered Phatmos’ kingdom, killing her family and taking her as his bride. When they are wed Dragan learns that should he ever cease expanding his empire, it will crumble. Shortly after, Dragan’s son Cyril is introduced. He is distraught that his father is leaving for war again. Dragan reassures him and takes his leave.

As Cyril wanders the palace aimlessly the man who married Dragan and Phatmos, the Oracon, enters. The Oracon sees that Cyril is upset and explains to him the reason his father left. Later, as he is preparing to sleep, Cyril is visited by his mother with a story. She tells him the tale of an emperor and the Lord of Fools, a god. The emperor, after conquering the entire world, is visited by this god and offered a boon. Choosing to meet the other gods, the emperor is quickly overwhelmed by their magnanimity. The emperor panics, pleading with the Lord of Fools to return him to the obscurity of his own empire. But even as Cyril learns the myths of his father’s empire, more secrets soon emerge, and truths are uncovered with major implications.

The script from Mark Russel is a mixed-bag that isn’t quite as effective as it could be. At times the dialogue and writing feel appropriate for the setting but at others, it feels too modern. Scripts written this way are not always bad, but there’s something about how glib it feels that makes it difficult to be immersed in the setting. It also relies very heavily on broken-up flashbacks which hurt the pacing. Which is a shame because the story itself is compelling. Particularly the legend told to Cyril by his mother, which was a very well explained piece of lore.

The art from Katie O’Meara and Bob Q is well done. Of particular note is the artwork from Cyril’s story. The designs and imagery in this segment are fascinating. The otherworldly Lord of Fools has a fun and unique design but is easily the most reserved of the gods. This segment is a joy to look at, particularly the mind-bending appearance of the greater pantheon of the gods. Dearbhla Kelly’s colors feel somewhat muted but compliment the art well.  The letters from Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou are solid. The stylistic changes when the script calls for it is perfectly mirrored in the letters and the story is better for it.

Overall I wasn’t particularly impressed with this issue. The script felt all over the place and the art and letters were the only real strong point. Normally this type of story feels right up my alley, but for some reason this time it fell flat. If you’re a fan of Red Sonja, there might be more here for you than there was for me. If not, then I have a lot of trouble recommending it.

Red Sonja: Lord of Fools will be available in comic stores everywhere on July 31st, 2019

Rating: 2.5/5 Myths and legends