Sunday, September 19, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Red Sonja #51

GOOD THING: The series has rebooted itself and with the new start comes a return to the Hyborian mythos. From the opening narration, which establishes our location as being on the border between the Hyborian nations of Shem and Argos, to the run down of Sonja's new supporting cast (a motly crew of hired mercenaries from many nations), this issue makes it abundantly clear that this book is firmly set within the same time and place as the adventures of Conan.

This is quite welcome after the formless and generic fantasy written by Brian Reed, which was nominally set in the same reality as the Hyborian-based stories written by Mike Carey and Michael Avon Oeming, which seemed to be based more around finding ways to allow the artist to put Sonja in a variety of different outfits than it was on any prior established setting.

BAD THING: There is a gratuitous bathing scene where we get the series' first use of full nudity. I'm not a prude by any means but to have true nudity in a book that had been more timid in its' use of cheesecake (remember the magical disappearing/reappearing leather boy-shorts?) is somewhat jarring. Particularly considering that Sonja is in a much more realistic - to say nothing of protective - outfit this time around, having traded her scale-mail bra for a true chain-shirt.

Still, in some respects, this is a welcome change. This series has always been promoted as being Older Teen (16+) and one might argue that nothing should stop the creative team from going all the way, as it were. Still, the "woman warrior ambushed while bathing" cliche is not a good thing for inspiring confidence that this new Red Sonja book will be something new.

The Final Verdict: Meet the new Red Sonja. Same as the old Red Sonja. The new creative team opens strongly, returning Red Sonja to her roots as a leader of mercenaries and firmly establishing her within the realm of Hyboria. Apart from some gratuitous cheesecake - which includes the series first example of full nudity - in one cliched scene, this issue is perfect and a good start for the new team. If you've been at all interest in the world of Red Sonja, now is the perfect time to jump in.


  1. Red Sonja started off with a mail byrnie in her first few appearances in Marvel's Conan the Barbarian: this isn't so much a "new" costume, so much as getting back to her roots. Still, I appreciate it too.

  2. Well, her original costume had leather hot-pants with the chainshirt. This new costume is the first time she mixed the chainshirt with a chainmail breech-cloth, so I'm willing to call it a new costume since this is our first time with these two elements mixed... in so far as I know, anyway.