A year after she refused the crown of Hyrkania, Red Sonja has returned to find the land peaceful and idyllic. But it seems just a little too peaceful; what dangers lurk under the calm surface? How does it fare?
Red Sonja #1 starts out on the wrong foot. Writer Marguerite Bennett’s narrative, accompanied with artist Aneke’s artwork, doesn’t mesh together at all. Bennett writes, “In its villages, voices shout.” However, the image is of a theatrical play depicting a battle scene. This continues into the next panel as she writes, “In its tribes, horns call out the news.” Aneke gives us a picture of a shepherd with his flock standing atop a hill looking at a thunderstorm. Bennett and Aneke don’t seem to be on the same page.
It doesn’t get any better from there. After revealing the cause of the voices shouting and the horns calling out the news, we are taken to a very awesome double page splash page depicting Red Sonja fighting a Thunder Bull. It takes another three pages before we figure out why exactly she is fighting this creature. It is just quite baffling.
There are also weird dialogue occurrences once Red Sonja meets the King of Hyrkania. After she has just boasted about her loot, she begins acting as if she is disgusted by it. It seems completely out of character. The dialogue begins to improve once she finally starts engaging with the King; Red Sonja’s rationale behind her decision is portrayed very well combining Bennett’s dialogue with Aneke’s artwork.
However, once it seems like we are finally getting somewhere, Bennett all of a sudden skips an entire year, having Sonja venture to foreign lands only to return to an idyllic Hyrkania. While Red Sonja laments about how bored she is, you might find yourself snoozing as well. Nothing interesting happens until the last page. Instead, Bennett beats us over the head with just how utopian Hyrkania has become under the new King. It also leads to awkward dialogue as Sonja goes off and pouts under a tree at one point.
Even after Bennett finally begins to move away from the utopian Hyrkania, she continues to struggle with dialogue.She sets up a dream sequence in what appears to be what Sonja might become in this new Hyrkania. However, what the dream sequence really unveils is who her consorts would be, which had been mentioned two panels before when she was about to fall asleep.
Aneke’s artwork is pretty good. There are some awkward images where Sonja is holding her sword at her crotch making it appear to be a penis. It’s apparent this was done on purpose, but I’m not really sure what point it is making and it just makes her look awkward as she readies for battle. There are also other combat sequences where Aneke has Sonja’s flowing red hair whip up and cover her entire face, practically blinding her.
There were some awesome scenes as Red Sonja takes on the Thunder Bull. Aneke shows just how formidable the Thunder Bull is through its massive girth and a close-up shot of its ferocious mouth with its three tongues hanging out. Sonja’s body language and facial expressions were on point, detailing surprise, boredom, determination, mild amusement, and other emotions effectively.
Jorge Sutil did a good job with the coloring. He sets the tone with his contrast of light and dark. When it is a time of sadness, he uses much darker colors or has the events take place during the evening. In contrast, when the story is showing how utopian Hyrkania has become, the events take place during the day with bright colors. His use of light also brings certain scenes to your attention. At one point he has the sun peaking through treetops to shine right on Sonja as she sleeps in the saddle.
Red Sonja #1 is a rough start to the new chapter being helmed by Marguerite Bennett and Aneke. The dialogue doesn’t match the artwork in the beginning, and then continues to create awkward moments for Red Sonja that don’t seem to fit her character. The artwork for the most part is good, but it too has some flaws with awkward sword positions and some confusing action panels that leave you scratching your head trying to figure out what happened. You are better off passing on this one because you might end up like Sonja and be utterly bored.
- The conversation between Sonja and the King
- The coloring did a good job of setting the tone
- Aneke's artwork in regards to facial expressions and body language was solid
- It was boring
- The dialogue struggled mightily throughout the issue
- There were some head-scratching actions scenes and just plain strange positions