Thursday, January 8, 2015

Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #1 - A Review

It has been some years since Red Sonja tread the jeweled thrones of the world under her booted feet. She has traded her life of adventure for one of simpler pleasures and the joys of teaching the next generation of young warrior women. But when a demon rears its' ugly head in a nearby village and rumors speak of the Son of Set come to Hyboria to open the way for his father from the Outer Dark, Sonja may have to take to the open road one last time.

Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle #1 gives us a glimpse at the future of Red Sonja.  A future that is thankfully free of robots and laser guns, unlike some other comics about an older Red Sonja we won't mention. Thankfully, Nancy A. Collins - who wrote the excellent Red Sonja: Berserker - seems to be reigning in the worst impulses of Luke Lieberman, whose previous Red Sonja stories have left much to be desired.

Unfortunately, the artwork for this issue seems conflicted on a number of levels.  Frtiz Casas - who also worked on Red Sonja: Berserker - is a skilled artist with a good eye for action.  Unfortunately, there are some points where the artwork doesn't quite match the script.  Casas' Sonja, for instance, seems remarkably free of scars from what we see of her her body... and we see quite a bit of it!  This doesn't match up with Sonja's monologue about the scars on the body.  Indeed, the only visual signs of Sonja's advanced age are her crimson locks being somewhat faded and tinged with grey - a wonderful effect on the part of color artist Adriano Augusto.

The biggest problem with this issue is the apparently random censorship of the artwork. The opening pages (available here) depict a scene in which a temple virgin is magically impregnated and forced to give birth to a snake demon even as the life is sucked from her body. It is a horrific moment and the artwork is suitably disturbing. And yet, some censor apparently found the idea of uncovered women's nipples more disturbing than a the images of a young woman rotting away to nothing even as her belly bloats like an enormous egg!

How else do you explain the hapless virgin - and Sonja when we first see her getting out of bed later in the issue - having their breasts covered with oddly precise black dots that do not match the inking or shading in the rest of the panel?  There is no explanation, save that even on a 16+ book, someone is perfectly happy to depict a man's throat being ripped-out in vivid detail in a close-up panel but afraid that people will complain about the sight of bared breasts!  I am no prude nor pervert but it seems a silly division to me and the book suffers for the disparity.

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