Monday, February 17, 2014

Red Sonja: Berserker - A Review

Red Sonja: Berserker is proof that a work of fiction can be enjoyable while still being predictable.  Canny readers will quickly recognize the classic tale that this story it is based on.  However, they will enjoy this comic in spite of that because of what writer Nancy A. Collins adds to the mix to turn it into a legend of Red Sonja.

Collins writes a great Sonja and her script is notable in that it seems to answer a question than some fans have speculated on since Gail Simone's recent revamp of the Red Sonja series - did Sonja, in this reality, take an oath of chastity to a goddess in exchange for her amazing fighting skills?

Simone's take on Sonja's childhood suggested she was a capable fighter without such an oath and did not depict any vision of any goddess as she retold the story of how Sonja's family was killed.  Likewise, Collins presents us with a Sonja who speaks openly of drinking dry the first tavern she comes to, "...And the same goes for the first man who takes my fancy."  So much for the famous oath of chastity, save to men who can best her in combat. 

Of course Sonja is still a lady of standards and reacts badly to any man who calls her a whore, much less tries to hire her as one!  That leads us to the one thing about this book that I didn't enjoy.  Sonja gets called a harlot or some variant of that word so frequently that it is comical.  Given enough friends, you could drink a tavern dry if you made a drinking game out of doing a shot every time someone in this comic calls Sonja a whore, treats her like one or otherwise suggests she is a loose woman of negotiable affection. 

Artist Fritz Casas is an old hand at drawing Red Sonja stories, having previously worked on Queen Sonja.  His Sonja is somewhat inconsistent facially, with her nose changing somewhat between panels.  Still, any artist who depicts Sonja as dressing sensibly in cold climates cannot be wholly without merit.  Casas does a fine job of depicting the action and his story-flow from panel to panel is quite good.

Bottom Line: This is an enjoyable comic and a must-read for all Red Sonja fans.  The story is a bit predictable and the artwork a bit odd at times.  Yet the final product is more than the sum of its part.

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