Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Red Sonja: Unchained #2 - A Review

Red Sonja Unchained #2 continues the epic tale started by fantasy author Peter V. Brett in the Red Sonja: Blue one-shot.  Despite this being only the third issue of the storyline, Brett has kept the story moving quickly with multiple conflicts and plot threads being introduced in each issue.  In this way, this story feels more like a novel with chapters than a comic book storyline with issues.

The main plot follows Sonja has she explores the tomb of a famed warrior queen, searching for a journal on behalf of her historian employer.  After a random encounter with the standard crypt-guarding monster, Sonja discovers that the rumors of the queen's death are greatly exaggerated.  Indeed, dark magics have kept her alive and trapped for many years and she requires Sonja's help to be freed.

Brett provides a rather neat little in-joke for long-time sword-and-sorcery comics fans and a slight tip-of-the-hat to legendary Red Sonja artist Frank Thorne.  After he ended his run on Marvel Comics' Red Sonja book, Thorne worked on a number of independent projects - most of which were mature in nature.  Perhaps the most famous of these was an erotic sword-and-sorcery series detailing the exploits of the courtesan turned amazon Ghita of Alizarr.  
To say that Ghita borrowed heavily from Sonja (or, at least, Thorne's idea of what Sonja should be) would be something of an understatement!  Still, it seems only fair that if Thorne could borrow from Sonja to tell his own tales, Brett can borrow from Thorne for his Sonja story to give us the figure of Queen Gheta.  Sharpe-eyed fans may note that the names of Queen Gheta's court wizard and sworn enemy are anagrams for Ghita of Alizarr's own wizard companion and her sworn enemy.  It's a jest only one reader in a thousand may get but it speaks to the detail and attention that Brett pays to all the other aspects of this story.

Sadly, the artwork by Jack Jadson is more problematic but it is no less enjoyable.  Jadsen has a fine gift for expressions, reminiscent of Kevin Maguire and his action-scenes flow neatly.  Sadly, some of the physical poses he places Sonja and Getha in during their fights seem somewhat improbable.  There are also some panels which seem curiously undefined and under-inked.   Despite this, I'd still recommend the series to all fans of a good ripping yarn and anyone curious about Red Sonja who cannot wait until Gail Simone's new series starts later this year.

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