Red Sonja #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Out of all of the Dynamite properties, Red Sonja is probably my favorite. Gail Simone’s run introduced me to the character, and it has some of my favorite moments in comic books. Both Marguerite Bennett and Amy Chu’s runs were worthy follow-ups, but never quite had the same magic. Now the Hyrkanian queen is in the hands of Mark Russell and Mirko Colak with an arc that has the potential be an epic.
The first issue of Red Sonja focuses on an empire with unchallenged expansion. The emperor, a feared conqueror, takes kingdoms without worry and is mostly unopposed. Writer Mark Russell uses the majority of the issue to establish the might and ruthlessness of the emperor. Through dialogue between the kingdom’s new subjects, the state of politics and brutality of their situation is made clear. Mark Russell’s dialogue is a tad stiff and most of it only exists as exposition. The characters’ conversation only exists to inform the reader of the situation, as its clear that they themselves understand the severity already.
Red Sonja herself isn’t actually introduced until about halfway through the issue. Her introduction is as fine as any reader could ask for, establishing the character as her usual strong and resourceful self. Sonja’s opening scene has mediocre action that is made enjoyable through monologue boxes that explain her actions. This scene is short and is followed up by her interactions with the new empire.
Red Sonja actually isn’t in this issue much, which is pretty disappointing considering that its the first issue. New readers won’t get the opportunity to see what all the fuss about the character is (at least in this issue). Outside of the lack of the titular character, this issue isn’t too entertaining, which is a shame. It’s decently written, and the intrigue is interesting. It’s just overall an uneventful issue that suffers from being just a bit too boring. Fortunately, the final few pages set up for what could be an exciting arc.
Mirko Colak’s art isn’t particularly impressive, but it isn’t offensively bad either. Like the writing, the art is mediocre, with no astouding pages throughout. Colak’s bold lines lead to a messy style that compliments how dirty this world is. There is a panel in particular that features a closeup of Red Sonja’s face, and it doesn’t really look anything like we’ve seen before. It just doesn’t look like the character, aside from the iconic red hair.
Most of the issue’s stylistic choices are great. Red Sonja doesn’t wear her iconic bikini mail. Instead, her tattered clothing look more realistic and representative of the setting. The panels are laid out wildly, allowing for the few action scenes to appear chaotic. Dearbhla Kelly’s colors capture a desolate and hopeless world for most of the characters. Yellows, reds, and oranges set an appropriate tone for the issue.
Red Sonja’s new start doesn’t feel much like a Red Sonja book. It is full of political intrigue and high stakes, but the titular character is mostly missing here. Still, there are a few moments in here that may be iconic later, and this debut could be setting up something big.
Red Sonja's new start doesn't feel much like a Red Sonja book. It is full of political intrigue and high stakes, but the titular character is mostly missing here. Still, there are a few moments in here that may be iconic later, and this debut could be setting up something big.