Sunday, February 22, 2015

Red Sonja #100 - A Review

The trouble with anthology books is you can never be certain of the quality of all of the book's contents.  That certainly proves the case with Red Sonja #100.  While this issue boasts stories by some of the finest scribes to write tales about Red Sonja since her resurgence at Dynamite Entertainment, it appears that less care went into procuring artists of a similar temper.

Thankfully that doesn't prove to be true of the book's first tale, "The Snare".  The story by Eric Trautmann pits Sonja against a beguiling evil as she flees from Hyborean slavers.  The artwork by Chastity artist Dave Acosta proves a fair match to the weird horror roots of Trautmann's script.

Sadly, the artwork of Pablo Marcos proves to be a little too weird in the next chapter, Tresses.  This story by Roy Thomas comes closest to capturing the feeling of a classic Red Sonja comic and   Marcos's artwork has a hand in establishing that aura.  Marcos does a grand job depicting the Lovecraftian beast at the heart of Thomas' story but his human figures are oddly distorted, with Sonja's neck stretching to odd lengths in some panels only to disappear completely in others!

The middle chapter - Sticks and Stones - is definitely the weakest in the collection.  The story by Michael Avon Oeming is built around that most overplayed of sword-and-sorcery cliches - the hero fighting for their freedom in an arena. The cartoonish artwork of Taki Soma proves worse, however, delivering a Sonja whom looks more like Codex from The Guild than a seasoned warrior woman.

The penultimate chapter - The Torch - proves the strongest in the anthology, no doubt due to the pairing of current Red Sonja writer Gail Simone and experienced Red Sonja artist Noah Salonga.  This epic story (which features some epic poetry worthy of Robert E. Howard himself!) centers upon Sonja's chance meeting with a warrior woman who inspired her as a girl and Sonja being given a chance to bring a measure of peace to her idol.

The book's final chapter - Three Wishes - proves to be the most erratic.  The artwork by Injustice artist Sergio Fernandez Davila is all over the place in terms of proportions and appearances.  The story by Luke Liberman is serviceable but the action - centering around a wizard who has found a seemingly endless steam of wishes - is resolved far too quickly, though it ends sweetly enough.

All in all, Red Sonja fans will find much to enjoy in this centennial issue.  It is not without its flaws but the good far outweighs the bad.  And even the bad is not truly that bad.

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